Water of Leith

This week, the Octoberth of August, was my first ever visit to Edinburgh. It was also the first of my tour stops to be scheduled. I’d met Barney Dellar a few months ago at the Mob Programming Conference. When I announced my coding tour, and he realized the best week for his team would be during the height of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, he moved quickly and decisively to book my lodging and travel. I was grateful to know well in advance that I’d get to visit at least one company — Canon Medical Research Europe — and that as such my tour would, in fact, exist.

Monday

  • Joined a mob (2.5-minute rotations!)!
  • My worst-facilitated Gilded Rose ever: OS+keyboard mismatch, AND language (C++ version wouldn’t build in IDE beforehand, so… Java)
  • Took in Barney’s talk at C++ Edinburgh
  • Ate irresponsibly
  • Walked lots

On the way back from Barney's talk

Tuesday

Learning Hour: Gilded Rose kata

Wednesday

Thursday

Learning Hour: Intro to TDD

  • Paired with junior developer (with extremely Scottish name)
  • Test-Driven Development intro: 3 slicing options, then Roman numerals
  • River walk with tech lead concerned with how new hires learn
  • Dependency setup hell
  • Nap and dinner chez Barney, beach walk and 🍻

Friday

  • Mob 2 refactoring in smaller steps — 3 commits in an hour!
  • Use whiteboard to write observations down and stay focused
  • Learning Hour: “Strangle Your Legacy Code”
  • Tech lead’s exercise: practice code design skills
  • Review the week

Here are all #CodingTour tweets from the week.

Reflections

After my visit here, which needed to be planned well in advance, I’m also appreciating the corresponding just-in-time planning that made sense during the week. Rather than choosing all five Learning Hours up front, each morning we selected what sounded best to us that day.

Another useful contrast with my previous tour stops: this week I programmed with a total of two teams. Mostly with Barney’s team, and also twice with another that’s newer to mobbing. I found it easy and comfortable to get to spend more time with fewer people, to get to know each other better, and to accumulate more solved problems together. If I were staying longer, I’d really start to feel part of the team.

Neither team followed a strict Driver-Navigator rule, and in neither case did it seem important to ask about it or otherwise draw attention to it, because there was never much crosstalk or persistent disagreement about where to navigate. Barney’s team rotated especially smoothly and frequently (every 150 seconds!), pausing after each Mobodoro to retrospect and take a short break. I’m a fan of extremely short, on-the-spot retros whenever we notice something. Now that I’ve seen Mobodoros up close, I’ll likely adopt this practice as well.

A bunch of us got together Friday afternoon to share some of our highlights from the week. Have a look.