On arriving at Agile Coach Camp Germany in Rückersbach (about an hour outside Frankfurt) I could already feel a difference from my experiences of US Coach Camps. Instead of a city center, we were atop a hill overlooking a village. Instead of streaming in each morning from various hotels, we were staying on-site. Instead of a company’s office or a meeting space, we were at a dedicated venue.

We were simply together — including meals, late-night gaming and other activities, and for many of us, double rooms. This gave the weekend a consistently higher level of intensity, which was easy to tune to my liking by going for a walk in the woods, throwing a disc with a fellow Ultimate enthusiast, or sitting down with some code. And it consistently afforded opportunities for serendipitous conversations until at least 3am. In short, the “Camp” part of the name suddenly makes way more sense to me.

In the flow of mob programming

I offered my now customary two sessions:

  1. Test-Driven Development for Non-Programmers
  2. Mob Programming for Non-Programmers

And also my customary anti-session:

  • Interrupt me anytime (except in the bathroom) for 15 minutes’ chat about any Agile technical practice: try it with me, watch me do it, ask about a situation…

Positive feedback (in both senses)

I continue to offer these because I believe that the most significant influence a coach can have comes through modeling behaviors, and the most important team behavior a coach can model is utter openness to joining others in their work. Coaches who disqualify themselves from joining in technical work are modeling behavior we’d all advise Agile teams against, while simultaneously constraining the potential depth of their connection to the people who do that work.

Coaching is hard enough without these extra challenges! I offer these sessions in the hope that more of us feel more comfortable opening more of ourselves to more of the folks we serve. I’m grateful to receive feedback suggesting it’s effective. So I’ll keep doing it every chance I get. The next Coach Camp for me will be Ann Arbor in September.

Speaking of creating joyful shared programming experiences, the first stop on my summer coding tour is in just two weeks. Can’t wait to start sharing what I learn. Stay tuned!