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The hidden secrets to re-on-board developers in Agility

23 Jul 2019


Yoan Thirion

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Like we have seen in the previous article,, Agility has been diverted and no longer belongs to developers. The aim of this article is to provide some keys to re-on-board developers into agility.

The software craftsmanship

In 2008, Uncle Bob, one the 17 from the agile manifesto, shared this kind of concerns about agility. For him agile was too much focus on the process(how to build the product fast and how to build the right product).

For those reasons, he wanted to add a fifth value in the agile manifesto: "Craftsmanship over Execution" ("Craftsmanship over Crap" in the first version).

software craftsmanship manifesto

Well-crafted software

We need to create high quality code :

  • Automated tests
  • Business languages in the code
  • Simple design

Steadily Adding Value

  • Constantly improve the code
  • Apply the boy scout rule

A Community of Professionals

  • We teach anyone with a willingness to learn (sharing, mentoring)

Productive Partnerships

  • We partner with our customers to understand their business.
  • We do not propose solutions until we are sure we have found the right problem.
  • We are not factory workers, so we need to say NO when it's for our customers good.

eXtreme Programming (XP)

If we think about the way products are built with waterfall approaches everything is disruptive in a framework scrum.

  • Test Driven Development: an extreme approach to software development that ensures every line of code is tested because before writing any line of production code you must start with a test.
  • Pair programming: 2 developers on the same computer to write code collaboratively (improve quality, knowledge sharing and reinforce the collective ownership feeling).
  • Continuous integration: integration of the code in a central repository every day multiple times.

Refactoring (the practice of improving code continuously) is at the center of everything in XP because by essence nothing is definitive, we are continuously adapting.

Developers need to be trained and coached on XP because it provides a lot of practices that make possible to build and deliver a product in an iterative and incremental way.

XP should be more pushed as an alternative to Scrum. It could re-conciliate developers with agility.

Invest on technical/craft coaching

It is what we do at Agile Partner we strongly believe that developers are really the key to an agile transformation and companies need to on-board them from the beginning in their agile travel.

Since many years now we have developed an approach and tools that help us to train and coach developers on the technical side of agility.


It's for us the best way to have everyone on-board and guarantee the success of our clients.

Value developer's work

With agile values and principles developer's work should be valued and they should work in an environment where they are not considered as "code monkeys".

As agile enthusiasts we need to help people to give feedback to each other's.

When you think about the skills required to be a developer at the moment (front-end, back-end, security concerns, architecture, operability, …) you easily understand how much they are keen to learn new stuff every days. Not that much jobs are like this.

Being a developer requires a lot of intrinsic motivation to learn and master new stuff every day. Developers push organizations to innovate and they should receive more feedback for doing it.

Change the HR processes

Developers should be proud to be developers but in many companies the peter's principle is applied:

  • A very good developer has success, so he is promoted as tech lead
  • As a good tech lead, he is promoted as software architect
  • As a good software architect, he is promoted as CIO of the company and at this position he fails.

He fails because skills required for a CIO position is not technical ones, is more about management skills and maybe this developer was only a technical guy that wanted to work on technical stuff.

As agile enthusiasts we need to help HR to change and really promote this culture of being proud of being developers. We need to help them revisit career path.

Avoid agile dictators

Agility requires pragmatism, so we must demonstrate it and incarnate it everyday.

Some of our Agile Partner craft tools

Here are some craftsmanship tools we have created that you could use in your companies :

  • Craft-challenges : a card game you can print promoting craftsmanship culture and practices.
  • Our open source technology radar version developed with jekyll (a static site generator) allowing you to organize technologies used in your company.
  • Craftsminator : an escape game with cards for developers that we use during our job interviews.


This article has been built based the Luxembourg Agile meetup "Lost in agile" from Adrien Muller and Yoan Thirion

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