I spent the last one-and-a-half days at the SoCraTes conference. I'm still kind of stoked about all the great people I met and were able to talk. It's such a great feeling to be part of such a clever and diverse community. Thanks to Nicole, Andreas and all the others to make this event happen.
Fishbowl Discussion at SoCraTes
I'll certainly talk/blog more about SoCraTes and Software Craftsmanship in general on this blog in the next weeks and months. But for now, I want to summarize the outcome (if you can say, there was one) of the Fishbowl discussion, that was taking place on Friday evening, the conference's first day.
The discussion started with Andreas , Ade, Uri, Markus and Sandro. For the uninitiated, I might add, that Sandro and Uri both started very successful Software Craftsmanship communities in their respective cities.
The first question was (paraphrased) "what are the next concrete steps, to get the Software Craftsmanship community in germany off the ground". And although the question was not answered in a definitive way by anyone throughout the whole discussion, there were a lot of possible steps, tips & tricks shared, that I want to note down as a reference. Note that I might paraphrase one or the other in order to better convey the point (or at least the point that I understood):
- "Find people who are committed to run the groups"
This is kind of obvious to most, but still the first and most important point there is to actually starting the communities. Period.
- "Focus on small geographical areas"
We do not and should not aim to build geographical disperse communities/groups. So this is almost abvious. Go for the people in your vicinity, in your city. This does not mean, that you cannot cooperate with groups in other cities, like visiting "partner-groups" regularly or organizing joint-events every now and then.
- "Define what's not included"
Ade brought this one up, which generally falls under the category of "expectation management". But putting it in these exact words is so much more tangible and to the point.
- "Talk about basic principles and skills first (in the meetings)"
This was Uri's suggestion. I think this is meant to fulfill the "Raising the bar" tagline of the Software Craftsmanship Manifesto quickly and demonstrate to attendee's of community meetings, that it's not about talk & discussion only.
- "Promote to people outside the normal groups"
I can't remember anymore who said it, but it sure is a way to make sure, that a Software Craftsmanship community/group is not just like any other tech-specific group. Software Craftsmanship groups should aim to encompass a broader goal. It's not about technology xyz, but about pushing boundaries, getting better at what we do.
- "Work with other local communities // cross-promote events"
Which boils down to: Be a good & respectful "citizen". Don't try to "steal" members, but rather work together to foster great communities, not just one great community.
- "Put limits on how many people are coming" This is not a next step or tip per se. It was meant as advice for a later stage, when meetings may get out of hand (with regards to size & scope) and is meant to be used in conjunction with point 3. above.
What I think are next steps:
It was decided during the Fishbowl on Friday evening, that a session would be held during the conference's Open Space on saturday, in which concrete next steps on how to start/launch the Software Craftsmanship community in germany would be decided.
However, I was not able to attend the conference's second day. So I decided to contribute to this Open Space session from afar and put forth the next actions, that are necessary and sensible from my point of view:
- Create a mailinglist for group organizers, to allow for event coordination and exchange of ideas, tips, tricks & motivation. Everybody who joins this mailinglist declares to organize a new or support an existing Software Craftsmanship group in his/her german city.
- Have at least 2-3 Software Craftsmanship groups across germany by December 2011.
Sergey proposed that the Global Day of CodeRetreat would be a good setting for promoting the forming of Software Craftsmanship groups. (this also aligns perfectly with my plan to organize a CodeRetreat in Frankfurt or Rhein-Main area, so I might be biased)
That's already it. From there on, the local group initiators/organizers will have to organize and promote their groups. And this of course will depend on the local circumstances. But the mailing-list can serve as a back-up for all group leaders to work together and support each other.