XPDay Keynote: Rachel Davies

This year we’ve invited co-author of “Agile Coaching” book, Rachel Davies, to give our keynote speech. Rachel has been coming along to Extreme Tuesday Club since 2000 and is a past chair of XPDay conference. She currently works at Unruly, the leading programmatic platform for social video advertising. Rachel is also organiser of Extreme Programmers London monthly meetup.

Here are a few words from Rachel to introduce the theme of her talk:- Where Did Our Bottle Go?

“Back in the day, I was in the first flurry of software developers who got excited about eXtreme Programming (XP). The practices of writing automated tests and pair programming were radical at the time. After years of being stuck in waterfall hell, we got to speak to real users and deliver code – it was a wonderful time to be a developer! Extreme Tuesday Club was a place where enthusiasts would get together in the pub to discuss how we could apply XP at work.

Fifteen years later, it seems that early burst of energy around being extreme programmers has fizzled out. Agile meetups are now full of project managers and business analysts with hardly a developer in sight. It’s becoming harder to tell that “Agile” was originally about how we approach software development. Post-agile generation developers even roll their eyes when they hear the A-word mentioned, they’ve become detached from a movement that seems to be about dragging them into more meetings and away from their beloved code.

Meanwhile the community of developers who count themselves as XP practitioners and software craftsmen has settled into a comfortable version of XP that often equates to practicing TDD under the direction of business analysts with an occasional spot of refactoring. An evening at Extreme Tuesday Club is more often like a depressing episode of the TV show “Grumpy Old Men/Women” bemoaning the state of the industry than a refreshing debate of new ideas about how we can approach software development.

Despite this apparent complacency, most organisations have an increasingly yawning gap between software developers and the business they work for. In my keynote at XPDay, I’ll be reminding you all that XP was originally about programmers working directly with customers to deliver software iteratively. Courage is a core value in XP and I’ll argue we need to revive this value and attempt to bridge this gap in our current work situations. Assuming we care about delivering value over retreating from business people to polish code, are we bold enough to stop navel gazing and try to make a difference? If so, how do we make a start?”