I spent three days in Oulu, Finland, attending the XP2006 conference. I have attended other agile conferences, but this was the first time I attended this conference, which was the 7th in series of XP conferences. I have to say I was impressed. The conference is about practitioners to the degree that you really get to sense the belonging in a community of practice. Authors of best selling books, key note speakers, most successful agile consultants in the world, signers of the original agile manifesto, other practitioners from all around the world, all open for discussion on this shared passion, without trying to close a contract before telling more.
I saw that strong passion of doing things right as the combining force of this community.
(Some) People are passionate about religion, too. This is why I think agile thinking is sometimes compared to religion, and comparison of agile and waterfall like methods is said to be a religious war. I saw nothing like religion (at least in a bad sense) in this conference. Instead lots of presentations and hallway talks alike concentrated on balancing methods, applying best from the both worlds, taking existing organization culture into count etc. I do not see this resembling fundamentalist religion at all, do you?
I have to say that in the early days of agile movement I sensed that strong black and white positioning as well. I participated in that. This I believe was the result of so strong survival anxiety after being so fed up with the situation and just wanting to get rid of the old ways of doing stuff all at once. The brilliance of agile methods is manifested in what we are experiencing now. We use continuous retrospectives to improve the method and to adapt it to changing situation. This is possible because practitioners are passionate and enthusiast and put lot of effort into keeping the method fit and healthy.
Sean Hanly from exoftware pointed out in his key note that we must be careful not the end up in the process graveyard with the famous "failures" like RUP, CMM(I), Waterfall and numerous others... By saying this Sean meant that the interpretation of original methodology is in danger to get twisted when number of interpreters increase. When agile development is moving into mainstream we are going to see a lot more practitioners without this passion, but just making the use of a new tool.
There are photos from the conference...