Last Saturday software developers and IT enthusiasts met in Münster to take part in the Software Craftmanship community day “SoCraMOB”. The event was organized as Open Space and provided a great and encouraging platform for everyone who took part.
The SoCraMOB Open Space – hashtag #MOBenSpace – takes place roughly every second month and aims at people from the area around Münster, Osnabrück and Bielefeld. It has usually around 20-40 people and focuses on discussing modern and agile software development in these days, independent of the programming language. The background organization behind it is the German Softwerkskammer, an initiative to bring together software developers.
For me as a project manager it was a great opportunity to meet people from “the other side”, listen to their thoughts, exchange ideas and getting an idea of the current brand new technologies and strategies for software development. One of the sessions for example was about the possibility to add gamification to business software to reward users for example with badges when they accomplish dull tasks earlier than necessary. During the discussion I realized the potential of the attempt, but it also spiked my curiosity in how far I can introduce gamification into my daily project manager life.
Another session dealt with Event Centric Modelling and the difficulties to talk to a customer. For this session the host invited a real-world customer: a person with no IT background whatsoever, who nevertheless needed a web platform. The task for the software developers was to gather all needed information from the customer in roughly 15 minutes. Since the customer was a non-IT person, the developers for example had to avoid technical phrases or details.
What sounds like an almost trivial task showed painfully the difficulties of talking to a non-technical customer: the developers tended to talk to discuss with themselves, they almost forgot about the customer. Additionally, they constantly assumed answers instead of really asking the customer, they kept circling around minor technical issues, and so on. In the end the host even had to intervene to bring the developers back on track.
While I know these kind of problems from my daily work I would not have expected them to be so urgent. So the lesson did teach everyone a lesson – but that was exactly what it was for =) Additionally, to me the session did prove how important it is to first of all have a strong moderator for such discussions, and to have people who are able to speak to customers in a language the customer can actually understand – for example a project manager 😉
Overall I can say that the SoCraMOB was worth the visit, even as a non-developer, and I hope to be able to make it next time as well. As far as I got it from the retrospective and the feedback of the others, it was a great event for them as well, and it tends to be that full of energy every time, so I can only recommend the event to anyone living in that area to attend that meeting once in a while!
Also, thanks OV software for sponsoring the event with space and the typical developers food =)