Skip to main content

Retrospective: The First Coding Dojo


After attending OneDevDay and CodeRetreat, I was gung-ho to get some regular nerdly fun going at my place of business. Accordingly, I pulled together a Wiki site, scheduled a meeting, and "just did it".

It went better than I had hoped it would. I got some great positive feedback from the attendees in our brief retrospective. I got a good vibe from everyone as we were going through the exercise.

I wanted to keep things as informal as possible, but we did follow this minimal schedule:
5:30 - 5:45 Food & Conversation
5:45 - 6:00 Description of Dojo Format. Choose topic & Codebase
6:00 - 7:20 Coding!
7:20 - 7:30 Retrospective

The team came up with the following in our retrospective:


What went well What could have gone better

  • Taking the initiative to do this.

  • Logistics / room / projector.

  • Welcoming atmosphere helped everyone dig in.

  • Small problem domain made it easy to focus on skill.

  • Everyone wrote code - even the managers!


  • More QA people should attend

  • Next time, have someone available to go on a food run.

  • More developers should attend.

  • Promote the event more - many people weren't aware of it.




We also came up with a set of ideas for future topics:

  • Refactoring

  • Selenium

  • Ping-pong pairing

  • Code retreat format



My plan is to tackle the first two over the course of the next few months. I'm not sure about the third, and I want to get in touch with Corey and/or Patrick about using their format. I think they encourage doing retreats, but they don't want the meaning of it to morph into something else, so it may not fit into a 2-hour twice-monthly meeting. If not, I'll just borrow the ideas I think will work & call it something else.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Agile Performance Management: Why Performance Reviews Suck

Many thanks to Mary Poppendieck, who wrote about this topic in 2004, and proposed a comprehensive solution.  She is the inspiration for much of my thinking on this subject.  She is also a better writer than I am a cartoonist.


Performance reviews suck.  I don't know of anyone who goes into their appraisal without some trepidation.  Your boss is guaranteed spring some surprise criticism on you that is ill-informed or misses the point as you see it.  It's a real challenge not to get defensive about that.

The only thing that makes your own performance review suck less is having to give them.  As a manager, I have dished out quite a few, and some of them went pretty badly.  (To the people at my first management job: Thanks for helping me learn how to get better at them.  Your sacrifice was not in vain.)  Since then, receiving one isn't nearly as gut-wrenching, if only because I try to make it easier for the guy on the other side of the desk.  I've been there, and I know how …

Do. Not. Optimize.

You've probably heard this quote before:
Premature optimization is the root of all evil.
 - Tony Hoare
Speculative optimization is always wasted time.  In the absence of an actual performance problem, you're just burning time that could be better spent on refactoring your code to make it clearer.  This is exacerbated because performance-optimized code is usually harder to read than code which hasn't received such treatment.

Here is what you're doing when you optimize:
Adding code that now must be maintained.Obfuscating the existing code.Spending time writing code that doesn't add value. But what's that you say?  You have the experience and know-how to decide when optimization is needed?  Maybe, but probably not.   The people at Sun and Oracle may or may not be smarter than  you or me, but they certainly know more about optimizing Java bytecode than we do.

For example, some people think that having a large number of classes is slower than the alternative.  This …

Showing Off: How to Do a User Demo

Rather than repeating what has been said elsewhere, here is a nice short post on agile-for-all that covers the basics.

Here are a few things for my own future reference and teams that I'm working with...

Try to keep each demo to 5 minutes or less.   If it's longer than that, it's possible that you should be demoing more than one story.  More likely, you're just being too wordy.

TALK LOUDLY.   No, louder than that.  Louder.  Do you feel like you're yelling?  OK, that's about right.  You need to put your voice in public-address mode for 5 minutes.

Focus on why your audience should care about the story  This is particularly important for back-end work.  For example: Your story generates a feed of XML that will be consumed by another application. Show the output, and point to a couple of salient features in it.  Then be done.

The important part of the above is "show the output."  Showing the end users how to interact with your service is a separate sit-d…