8 March 2016 – London Agile Coaching meet-up – Phoenix Project, BDD and Speccing Sessions

Back on the 8th March 2016, Greg and Veronika came along to the London Agile Coaching meetup. Amongst many things we spoke about The Phoenix Project book, about how BDD isn’t just about testing, and BDD speccing sessions.

Here’s my write-up of the meetup, which I shared with them.

The Phoenix Project book

This is one of the best books I’ve read about a corporate transformation rescue mission. Through a storytelling form it talks about the Theory of Constraints, getting disparate confrontational teams to cooperate, key-person dependencies, pulling all-nighters, and dealing with stress.

At times it’s almost philosophical.

Behaviour Driven Development is more than just testing

Something that Gojko Adzic, the author of Specification by Example, advocates is that BDD isn’t about testing per se.

It’s more about getting a shared understanding of the business problem/opportunity throughout the value chain (i.e. end-user, stakeholder, product, marketing/sales delivery team, operations), and arriving at a consensus in a style that business people understand and in a form with which solutions can be built and maintained.

By exploring the business case together teams form a common understanding, expectation and vocabulary that carries across the business area.

BDD Speccing sessions

One technique for developing the common understanding I described above is to intentionally encouraging divergent opinions. This is something a department in the Financial Times do very well. They use an emergent diverge/converge facilitation technique where a large group of people are briefly introduced to a user story, and then break out into teams (they diverge) to develop the scenarios independently.

After about 40 minutes they then regroup to talk through their thinking. Different opinions and perspectives are valued and discussed. With the guidance of Product, a common consensus is formed (they converge), scenarios and acceptance criteria are documented, which then goes towards building and maintaining the behaviours of the business systems they’re changing.

Quoting Dan North “If we could develop a consistent vocabulary for analysts, testers, developers, and the business, then we would be well on the way to eliminating some of the ambiguity and miscommunication that occur when technical people talk to business people.”

I’ve facilitated such speccing session before. Here’s a few seconds from one I facilitated: https://goo.gl/photos/a947QpEkA7EdXCV6A

About the London Agile Coaching Network

London Agile Coaching Network meetups is different to the typical Agile meetup because they’re intentionally kept to a small number of people. This allows folks to have an open and more in-depth set of discussions, and perhaps have a more frank and honest debate. It’s an open forum with no upfront agenda.

Look out for the next London Agile Coaching Network meetup.