When I first heard about JB coming to HolidayCheck to work with us I was excited. I hadn’t heard much about him then, so I began googling him. I did know the fantastic 7min 26sec talk but not really anything beyond that. The more I was reading about him, the more I was looking forward to meet him in person.
We arrived at the venue at around 9am. JB was already there, preparing. I approached him, shook his hand, exchanged few words. He made a very friendly first impression.
As the first day kicked off with a keynote, I sat down in the second row to make sure that I wouldn’t miss anything. The experience was as engaging and exciting as his 7-26 talk - just several hours long :) JB really has this skill to attract people attention.
The topics that I was most interested in hearing about at #JBHC17 were TDD and Craftsmanship. When these hardly came up during the first day I started to get a bit worried. It was all really interesting yet not what I was looking for. Little did I know, that JB had a plan.
He introduced a way of working in order to solve one problem: bottlenecks. And he did a great job. We learned how to find what slows us down and how to tackle this. He showed us how to work efficiently and what eventually matters - our clients, time to bringing features to them is the most important thing. The shorter the better, as that is all that matters.
He started off with Winston W. Royce’s waterfall model, then, step by step, changed it into test first approach. From queueing theory, test first programming to TDD and BDD. He spoke a lot about throughput of our work, from raw material to final product. How it flows through the system, where the constraints lie. JB described how value stream mapping works, which is the technique used to discovering bottlenecks. You think you have a high efficiency in your team? 30-50%? Think again :) We did the exercise and it was ~6%. No kidding.
The first day introduced a lot of very useful knowledge, and went by fast. It ended with a very nice dinner at a pizza restaurant. We had a chance to talk about anything with JB. You really need to meet this guy in person.
On that day we split into two groups: programmers and product people. First group had two exercises to choose from. I picked the one where we were supposed to build a cash register. From very simple tasks (scan one product, show price) to advanced features. The reason for this was to practice TDD approach (don’t mistake it with TFP). Why this? JB showed us a very simple diagram, a loop which is all about TDD: red - green - refactor. As for the refactor part, JB mentioned two most important things to do, which refactoring boils down to:
- Removing duplication
- Improving names
It was a very nice experience. Step by step, when I was adding features, I saw how easy it was to add another one if code I produced was left in a good shape. It involved removal of duplication, introducing abstraction, providing better naming, etc. It felt great doing this.
After the exercise, JB continued talking about the cost of introducing TDD: it is an investment, but one that pays of in long term (not that long!). As the day went by, JB told us also about few other, very interesting facts and figures backing up test first approach.
This day ended with a really big surprise. JBHC17 will happen again! It will take place on 11-12 December. I already know I will go. It’s one of those things you can’t miss.
JB is a very nice person, he’s very smart and he’s a real professional. During those two days I learned more about him, his personal life, how passionate he is in what he is doing. If I were to recommend a speaker to come and visit your company, that sure as hell would be JB.
Thank you JB, for coming and see you next time. Thank you, all of the organizers and HolidayCheck, for making it happen.