Monday, April 15, 2019

Mob Programming Conference 2019 - A Comeback

Remember my joy last year when I got invited to the Mob Programming Conference 2018 as a moberator for the first time? Imagine my joy when Woody Zuill invited me back again for this year's conference! Truth be told, I wholeheartedly hoped for this opportunity and booked my flights for the preceding TestBash Brighton accordingly, allowing me to fly to Boston shortly afterwards.

So, here I was, back in Boston, seeing so many lovely people again, and getting to know many more. It was a wonderful experience. Here's a glimpse into what happened.


When I learned that Lennart Fridén would be back on board, I was super happy. We met last year and had some great conversations together, already on the very first evening. This time we could continue, meeting for dinner on the evening for the conference. A wonderful way to get into conference spirit!

The Conference

The first day was kicked off by the amazing Linda Rising with her keynote "Experiments: the Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful". It's always a pleasure to listen to Linda's thoughtful and inspiring talks! She's a real master on stage, and a huge role model as well.
Afterwards it was my time to facilitate a mob session. This year I chose the topic of "Mob Exploratory Testing", evolving a workshop I gave both for another company on my last year's Testing Tour, as well as my own company just recently as a cross-team, cross-role, cross-location mob. It went well and also triggered many new ideas how to improve my mob sessions further. Mission accomplished!
After lunch it was time for a  lean coffee session. I found myself helping out as facilitator at a table full of co-workers. That really made me think how to encourage people better to spread out and learn from other people's experiences. I get why we prefer to stick together, and yet it feels like a missed opportunity at conferences. On the other hand: this experience proved again why a lean coffee session still makes total sense to have in your own company as well. People came from different teams and learned a lot about each other's challenges and solutions they had no idea about before.

For the afternoon I chose the mob session hold by Chris Lucian from Hunter Industries, where the "original" mob evolved. He introduced us to the "Mob Programming Roleplaying Game - A Powerful Learning Experience". It was developed by Willem Larsen and all material can be found on GitHub for people to give it a try themselves. What I really liked about it: the purpose is to show good behaviors in a mob and thus level up your mobbing skills.

The second day started with a great keynote by Karin Tenelius: "Learning from Self-Managing Organizations". What an impressive journey she is on for a long time now! Karin gathered lots of data why self-managing organizations area win-win for everyone. By the way: I loved the fact that both keynotes were given by strong, knowledgeable, inspiring women. True role models, again.
Next up I chose the mob session by Colin Snyder: "When The Mob Encounters 'The New'". He jumped in as replacement for Lisa Crispin and Stephen Vance who unfortunately could not make it to the conference and were dearly missed. I liked Colin's idea of learning something new together as I used this topic myself several times for mob sessions so far. Our little mob ended up in doing first steps in Pearl by doing a coding kata together. Paying nicely into my #CodeConfident challenge! ;-)

After lunch I was very tired, so I spontaneously decided to skip the open space and instead talk with Andrea Zuill and Lennart. What a wonderful, re-energizing and inspiring conversation! One thing that stuck with me after talking with Andrea, who is a children's book author and illustrator: Sometimes it takes a ton of sketches to get a character right. So draw many sketches quickly without trying to improve any of them; instead, instantly move to the next one. If sketches are too refined, they are not sketches anymore ;-) Wise advice and applicable to other areas of life as well.

The last session I chose was Scott Ford's "Mob Programming with Legacy Code". He used the Gilded Rose refactoring kata translated to many different languages by Emily Bache. A wonderful exercise I got first introduced to by Maaret Pyhäjärvi's awesome talk at Selenium Conf India 2018. Alternatively, check out her blog post "Exploring Gilded Rose".

The Social Side of Conferences

I learn a lot from the content shared at conferences in talks and workshops. I learn even more when doing things hands-on together with other people. That's not everything, however. Often I take the most things away from the socializing opportunities offered by or evolving around conferences. Like the evening reception after the first day. Great conversations throughout the evening!
After the conference ended, many of us joined for dinner and the evening was full of inspiring talks as well.

That not being all, the day after the conference, Lennart accompanied me on my sightseeing tour through Boston. Loved it! By the way, in case you'd like to see photos from my conference travels, I've just recently started my own Instagram account. It's private as of now, yet feel free to request access.

To 2020!

The 2019 edition of the Mob Programming Conference came to an end. Yet there are already plans for next year being made! And we know one thing already. We need more moberators, meaning people who facilitate mob sessions, so we could offer more smaller ones to make the conference even more focused on hands-on practicing and learning with each other. If you have mob experience and would be up for facilitating, feel free to reach out to Woody! Or alternatively, Lennart. Or me, as it seems. Time will tell ;-)

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