FNB Codefest: Agile culture matters, brilliance follows

The Agile Manifesto provides useful principles for improving software projects; the Codefest demonstrates some of these quite effectively.

At the recent Africa DevOps Day hosted by Standard Bank I spoke about our journey in setting up an Agile-supportive culture. I shared seven lessons, three of which correlate strongly with the environment that emerges in the Codefest “play space”; co-location, being agile about being agile and a supportive, trusting environment.

Codefest is an annual 6 day sprint at FirstRand which includes a 48 hour programming marathon and brings business together with over 200 IT developers who innovate with the latest technology, watch the video below to see more

Co-location, co-location, co-location; it’s not just estate agents that recite this mantra – experienced Agile practitioners often point to this as a key enabler of project success.

With distributed teams it is not always possible, but silos in large organisations can and should be broken down by co-locating project teams in a well equipped space.

Codefest occupies the biggest venue in FirstRand for a full week from tech setup on Monday to judging and awards on Friday; the collaboration, teamwork and focused energy could not be created without it.

Read here about being agile to become Agile; it’s all about living in the grey – not everything works first time in every environment.

Be flexible and experimental about introducing Agile practices and tools; always be guided what really drives business value, not by pet preferences for jargon and silver bullets.

2016 FNB Codefest Is Around the Corner

We have learnt lots of lessons in the 2 codefests we ran last year, participants and stakeholders were very clear about what worked and what didn’t; at this year’s event on 3-7th October we will try and incorporate these lessons.

A supportive, trusting environment will protect and encourage the self-organising, self-managed team ethos that is so important in Agile projects. Today’s rock star programmer knows more about her work than the manager; he must ensure a safe space for her to work magic with code.

At codeFest we’ve “taken the bureaucracy out and put business together with IT”; people arrive at Codefest knowing they have autonomy for 5 days – it’s always incredible to see what they can achieve in this type of environment.

Peter Drucker famously said that “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and this is particularly true for the new world of Agile software programming.

Creating the right environment for skilled people to do their best work can have dramatic effects; the above principles worked at Codefest, experiment with your Agile environment to find what works for you.

These cultural principles are crucial but don’t forget two other needs on the programmer’s Maslow hierarchy; without them they can’t (won’t!) write a single decent line of code; industrial strength wifi and unlimited, good coffee!

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