Simon Baker is cofounder of Energized Work, an energetic software development lab in London, and recipient of the Agile Alliance’s Gordon Pask Award. In this interview, author, speaker, and agile tester Lisa Crispin speaks with Simon about the approaches and tools his lab uses.
Lisa Crispin: Your team makes such effective use of big visible charts. Is this something you’ve done from day one? How do you keep thinking of new ones to try?
Simon Baker: Visibility has always been a big thing for me. Teams need to see what's important so they can make informed choices and use time effectively. Basic questions must be easy to answer: How are we doing? What's going on? What could we do next? How is this going to delight the customer?
Over the years, we’ve evolved through countless information radiators. Our boards have always been an integral part of our approach, and their design has become a continuous experiment to visualize the work and give us insight into possible ways to improve how we are working. Experiments like this customize our environment to work better for us and our customers.
I think it's pretty easy for us to come up with new ways to visualize information precisely because we have such a visual workspace and we’re so plugged into our working environment. The lab is like our nerve center. It shows all kinds of data for everything that’s going on. It keeps us focused on the big picture and reminds us why we’re doing things. It also helps us get to the bottom of things when they don't go as expected. Because we’re collocated and our work is powered by conversations, it’s easy for us as part of our everyday routine to feel when information radiators aren’t working. Occasionally though, we change things around just because we're bored and want to try something disruptive to see what comes of it.
Lisa Crispin: When I visited your lab, I enjoyed talking to Gordon Conroy. He’s a tester, but he’s obviously as much a part of the development team as any programmer. How did you integrate testers so seamlessly into the development team?