The qualities that the audience brings — enthusiasm, energy and engagement; experience, knowledge and ideas — are the keys to a successful participatory session. So, thanks to all the Yorkshire Agilists who braved the January gloom for our Extreme Hour. And a special shout from me to Grant Crofton, who paired-up with me as co-host.
An Extreme Hour is a process miniature illustrating facets of XP. Famously XP leavens a tiny process with practices and philosophy, tools and techniques. XP teams often add optional extras into the mix, for example iterations, which occasionally obscure XP's essential simplicity.
One hour flows by fast: it makes sense to select themes and arrange the focus on them. This time, we stripped down the process to essentials and set out to challenge communication and collaboration through user stories in the planning game between customers and developers. Our rules-for-today required that each story be written on one card using the classic "As a, I want" template.
Team building happened first and fast: focusing relations within, and limiting ties between, teams. Next, customers were separated and grouped, presented privately with an open, undirected product challenge, then left to brainstorm. This set up customers as domain experts — limiting independent developer knowledge.
The twist thrown into the mix this time was paper prototyping. Teams were challenged to create dynamic interfaces from paper, card and stickies using scissors and pens. This went really well — though testing wasn't feasible, pair programming was: with the driver operating the pens and scissors, and the navigator owning the story card.
I left happy.