Earlier in the week, I posted about an introduction to agile development that I gave at work. Afterwards, I talked to several of those that attended and figured out that I left a lot of things out of the presentation. This was partly due to some inadequate preparation on my part and a pretty narrow time constraint. As a result, I presented a lot of information without a sufficient amount of supporting information. I also failed to provide enough clarity as to how these new methods would integrate with our existing processes.
To address the issue, I scheduled a Fish Bowl to have an open discussion about agile development methods. We arranged the group into an outer perimeter and set up four chairs in the center of the room. I took a chair and two other volunteers joined me and I started the discussion. I opened with some general conversation about the items presented in Monday meeting. The participation from that point forward was wonderful — everyone took a seat in the fish bowl and shared their concerns, asked questions, and proposed solutions.
The end result was a greater understanding by the group of:
- why we are looking at using agile methods in our organization
- how these methods can address some of our problems
- what we expect to achieve by adapting agile processes
Based on my original experience with the Fish Bowl at ALT.NET in Austin compounded by another great experience this week, I highly recommend the format for group discussions in any organization.