SoCraTes Germany 2018

Francesco Gigli · 28 Aug 2018

SoCraTes Germany 2018 is over and it has been a great one. Many insights, new ideas, and opportunities to reflect. Here are my notes.

Friday

It started with learning how to make a coffee with an Aeropress and KanBan. A delicious example of how feedback loops and reflection can make you go faster.

Next I tried sketching and we discussed how sketching can be used for note taking but it can also aid communication, for example during a meeting or in a presentation. It creates visual memories that can be referred to later. The header picture is my own attempt at it.

Non symbolic drawing was a surprisingly challenging session for me. We don't normally see with our eyes, we see with our brain. The first exercise was to draw the negative space of an object, eg. The "holes" around a wrapped up cable. It is an experience in seeing. Next we went on to representing the weight of an object with scribbling, the heavier the part of the object the denser the scribbles. The paper is scary, but you need to not be afraid of making mistakes. Also don't judge your drawings. Frustration took over for me, I tilted. Thanks for your kind words Yulia. I've learned that I need to be more compassionate of myself, accepting my failures, defects, limitations, and shortcomings.

This is the kind of surprise I go to SoCraTes for. Mind flipped and ego shrunk I headed to the sauna.

Saturday

I cannot share the content of the next session, the topic was Sexism. I hope by hearing examples of bad behaviours I can learn to recognise them, in myself and in others. I think hearing them told directly made me empathise. A simple suggestion, as an ally, was to compliment colleagues. I want to read more on this subject and these seems like simple suggestions.

OWASP Juice shop (one of the few technical sessions I went to). Run a node application on your laptop and try to hack into it. I think this was marvelously gamified, each hack awarding a new achievement in varying difficulty levels. Wow!

The most important takeaway from the next session, working with intercultural teams, is that culture has an influence in how we think about power distance, the need for rules, and the balance between individualism and collectivism, long and short term thinking, and "masculinity and femininity". These differ from person to person and do influence our ability to communicate and collaborate. One everyday example of this is that the perception of time is culturally mediate: "5 minutes" actually means something different depending on who are you talking with.

Refuctoring was another "technical" session: start with a plain Fizz-Buzz implementation in JavaScript and turn it into the most diabolically intricate piece of code we could. The insight for me happened when the code crossed my mental ability to model its behaviour, which happened upon inlining a function. Immediately after my brain just gave up, my mental model was gone, garbage collected. My mind was empty and it took me a good 10 minutes to understand that part of the code again. To recreate a mental model. Fascinating.

There was more, we talked about the five languages of love, played board games, heard about the book Accelerate, discussed code reviews and continuous delivery, and collected a lot of laptop stickers.

I had an amazing time and I'm so grateful to the organisers and everyone that come to SoCraTes Germany this year. Franzi in particular, for being a great travel buddy and facilitator.

See you again in a year!

Craft on,

Francesco

Francesco Gigli Image

Francesco Gigli

Francesco started in Italy as a Software Developer and System Administrator and his career changed dramatically when he arrived in London. He embraced DevOps, Self Organisation, and Software Craftsmanship. He implemented systems using Event Sourcing and React. He attends Open Conferences like SoCraTes and DevOpsDays.

The two most important learnings, so far, have been the need for a Mutual Learning mindset for effective teamwork and the ubiquity of trade-offs.

Some things have remained the same: the desire to understand the behaviour of systems, the fearless crossing of system boundaries and responsibilities, and the love for good design and usable interfaces.

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