16 years of legacy code with mob programming and Lego | Joe Wright

Feb 13, 2017 by Madalina Botez in  Announcements
Enjoy the following series of interviews with the speakers, top-notch software crafters from across Europe, joining  I T.A.K.E Unconference, Bucharest, 11-12 May. Discover the lessons learned and what drives them to challenge the known path in their field. 


Joe Wright, Senior Developer, Coach & Architect, helps people deliver software that’s well designed, fully tested and released early. You will learn from his case study at #itakeunconf about how a team can go from individuals to a mob.




#1. Share with us 5 things from your experience that helped you grow & become the professional you are today


# Make time for deep work
Set a few hour blocks aside each week that you will dedicate to improving yourself or creating something each week. As a parent, I’ve had to start doing this by getting up early to grab two hours each day. During this time you can learn a skill, practice coding, write a book or make a podcast. It’s far too easy to let distractions rule your life. Make time to do something you are proud of.


# Become a facilitator
I think everyone is terrified of public speaking. It’s an unnatural thing to do. Our ancestors learned this behavior as a survival instinct – if lots of carnivores are looking at you then you are probably the dinner. Time to run.
Getting over this is an important step that enables you to have all sorts of life experiences. Speaking at conferences, leading workshops and meeting interesting new people. The way I beat the fear was by volunteering to co-organise a well-attended meetup. Each month I would have to get up in front of a room of my peers and say some boilerplate about welcome and the agenda. But just that act of getting up and speaking was enough to dull the fear over time. I’ve not been made into dinner yet.
As well as building yourself up as a speaker, it helps improve your network of people. People like speaking to the host at an event and it gives you an easy opportunity to learn about those people, then take a mental note when you might want to get into contact with them in the future.


# Ask for help
Don’t feel you have to figure everything out yourself or read up online. Reach out and ask people for help.
As you spend more time in your career you meet more people – and one day you’ll have a question you’d love to ask them. It’s even easier now with social media and video conferencing. People will give you 30 minutes of time online or meet you over coffee to give you their advice if they think you’ve got an interesting question to answer.
I always have a list of three things I want advice on. You never know who you are going to meet.


# Improve in more than one dimension
At first, newly minted developers want to get projects released and in users hands. During this, you try to get better at creating software that can be changed to meet their needs. Eventually, newer technology comes out, which promises to solve the problem of getting code out quicker and is easier to change.


It’s quite easy to fall into the trap of just learning technology stacks. This can be rewarding, but that’s not the only way to improve as a developer and meet people’s needs.
Seek out opportunities to see the world from the other functions in software. If you tester goes on holiday then volunteer to stand in for them. If you have an ops team then ask to pair on making the release process smoother. Facilitate a retrospective for another team. Run a usability session with real world users to see how your product is used. Stepping into another roles shoes helps build empathy, which will allow you to work better with others people in the future.
If you tech stack isn’t challenging you then concentrate on improving your “soft skills”. Teach someone how it works. Figure out ways to promote and resolve conflict on your team. Fix the root causes of communication and process issues that slow you down.


# Find people that will challenge you
It can be hard to get feedback about how you are doing. Are your ideas valid? Often you can’t get this feedback in your workplace. Seek out a group of people or a person that is willing to challenge how you think.
For me, this is the Lean Agile space and my local code craftsmanship group.
Consider these people that challenge you your core group. The way you work should be consistent with the ideals of that group. So don’t ever worry about saying what you think at work, just make sure you stay true to the principles of your core group.


#2. What challenges will the participants find solutions to during your session at I T.A.K.E Unconference 2017?

  • How can I reduce communication, approval, and tech debt issues from slowing down my team?
  • How can I measure and improve how a dev team spends their time?
  • How can I get started doing this at my work?


#3. Recommend for the participants 3 sources you find inspiration from and would help them better understand you

  •  Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport (book)
  •  Facilitation advice – available here
  • The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox (book)






Want to join Joe, +30 international speakers and ~300 software crafters from around Europe?

Register now for I T.A.K.E Unconference 2017!

Do. Or do not. There is no try: Be a speaker at I T.A.K.E Unconference 2016!

Nov 11, 2015

Simon Brown_ 2015

Simon Brown, Keynote speaker I T.A.K.E Unconference 2015


We are proud to announce that in May, 2016, in Bucharest, we will host the 4th I T.A.K.E Unconference, bringing together 300 top-notch programmers, software craftsmen, architects, DevOps, technical managers, team leaders, startup CEOs, CTOs, technical consultants, and business analysts from more than 10 European countries.

James Shore is our first confirmed keynote speaker for this edition.

Each year, we strive to raise the standards for our participants. We are looking forward to offer them practical, hands-on sessions like workshops, smart talks, and best quality presentations. Side events, like Kata Lounge or programming contest, and networking opportunities will be included in the schedule, so get ready for one of a kind event!

As always, an invaluable role will have our speakers. Each of them brings personal experience and amazing insights, making the unconference the best place for finding inspiration and ideas for your work.

At this moment, we have just launched our call for speakers and we are looking forward to receive your submission!

If you want to make an outstanding contribution at one of the regional most vibrant events, get your proposal ready and submit it here.

We value practical, hands-on sessions, strong case studies, and personal experiences, delivered in an attractive manner. Our event is technology agnostic, so us, and the participants, expect a session that will apply to more technology stacks. No, talking only about Java or C# won’t go the finals!

While you prepare for taking the stage, take a look at what speakers and participants said about their experience:


Last week I had the chance to attend both as a speaker and an attendee my first un-conference (…). The overall agenda and the way the event is structured is very intelligent and it makes people communicate more and exchange ideas in various ways. (Patroklos Papapetrou, Speaker 2015, full blog post here)

The speakers proved to have deep understanding of the topics, and the information was clearly presented in easy-to-read slides. Nice job! (Adriana, participant 2015)

Open Space – very interesting. It’s like a round table. Everyone has the chance to say what he/she wants. Short sessions (as these: 35’, 40’) – OK. (Participant, 2015)


You can find all the details about the call here, and make sure to submit your ideas here by December 22nd.

Questions? Share your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter, using #itakeuncof.

How to successfully manage remote teams

Apr 26, 2016

Enjoy the following series of interviews with the speakers, top-notch software crafters from across Europe, joining  I T.A.K.E Unconference, Bucharest, 19-20 May. Discover the lessons learned and what drives them to challenge the known path in their field.

Hugo Messer, founder of Bridge Global, will join I T.A.K.E Unconference as speaker. In his workshop, the participants will learn more about how to successfully manage remote teams.



  • ​Starting my own software development firm, offering IT outsourcing
  • Focusing 10 years on growing the company and learning how to grow a company, manage IT projects and people
  • Always reading a lot of (management) books to keep educating myself
  • I attend conferences and trainings regularly
  • The last years I’ve invested in learning how to share my experience and knowledge with others through speaking and training

#2. What challenges will the participants find solutions to during your session at I T.A.K.E Unconference 2016?

During the session they will find out more about:

  • ​common pitfalls within distributed teams > how to make distributed teams work
  • communicating across cultures, distance and timezones
  • how to apply agile to distributed teamwork

I’ve shared about the session in this video as well.


#3. What else would you like to share with participants

​I’m an entrepreneur and have worked in the software development world for over 10 years. I am a pragmatic person, most of what I learned was by doing it myself. I love starting and building companies and I also love figuring out ways to make things work better. I’m passionate about working with distributed teams, because I believe it enables people to work from anywhere, it enables companies to hire great people everywhere. I’ve seen that people struggle when working in distributed teams and I’ve created the ‘distributed agile path’​ to help people with this. I’ve also written 6 books about managing distributed teams.
I love reading books about management, entrepreneurship and spirituality. I also love the stuff of Tim Ferris. My hobbies are cooking, travel and playing with my kids.
logo ITAKE 2016


Want to join Hugo and many more software crafters from around Europe?

Join I T.A.K.E Unconference 2016!

Countdown to I T.A.K.E Unconference 2016

Feb 05, 2016

Great news! The final preparations for I T.A.K.E Unconference 2016 program are done!

Our team of reviewers finished the draft program. 100 proposals, from speakers from 20 countries, were received to the Call for Speakers. We are looking forward to let you know which of them will make it to the final program.

As a sneak peak, we can tell you that lots of live coding and exciting talks & workshops are in row. As we are finishing up the details about the 4th edition of I T.A.K.E Unconference, we invite you to have a look at the previous editions.

Here it is a selection of our favorite highlights:



I T.A.K.E Unconference has become a unique meeting place for top notch technology craftsmen. During a 2-day program, they get involved in talks and workshops that foster peer-learning and challenge the known paths.



A great line-up of keynotes speakers enables the inspiring and dynamic learning atmosphere.


We wrote code, talked code and presented code





Both the participants, and the speakers could join a technical Open Space, where they shared ideas and learnt from each other, engaging in professional conversations, Q&A sessions and live coding.




The participants, passionated coders, competed with their peers, taking a set of challenges that put their skills to the test. Gadgets like a drone or an iPad were the rewards for the winners.



Women speakers, as well as academic speakers enriched the I T.A.K.E Unconference participants’ experience with valuable insights and stories. Additionally, the women in IT campaign brought into the audience’s attention some of the most amazing ladies who made a contribution to the development of the tech field.



Happy we’ve had the chance to work with amazing speakers, participants, volunteers, partners, and sponsors. Looking forward to the next editions, too!




We would love to see you in I T.A.K.E Unconference 2016 top moments! Stay tuned for the program announcement and registration opening! If you would like to hear the news first, sign up here

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