LAST Conf MEL 2018

Agile Developer Immersion Workshops – Inclusion and access program

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Workshop participants at a previous LAST Conference

For a couple of years, we have run workshops that allow participants to learn or brush up on important technical skills that support agility in software development. Technical excellence is at the heart of agility, so it’s important to us to offer this for the community.

The format of the sessions is inspired by the Coderetreat movement, with some changes that have been introduced by the facilitators of the sessions, especially the Refactoring session. Unlike the official Coderetreat days, we do charge a registration fee. This is mainly to cover costs. At $120, we really think this it’s a really affordable opportunity to learn from some great, experienced colleagues.

Nevertheless, we want to encourage people who might find the registration cost prohibitive, so are sponsoring a number of free or discounted seats.

We envisage this to be for University (especially Swinburne) students, very recent graduates, those who have been between jobs or are switching careers, or people who may be from what could be considered under-represented groups. In general, if you are in paid employment, where your employer would pay the registration fee ($120), you would not be eligible for this application process. Register here.

Apply for workshop

NOTE – Applications will close at midnight on Tuesday 10 July. 5pm on Thursday 12 July.

Find out more:

Basic Workshop on ConfEngine

Refactoring Workshop on ConfEngine

There is also more, general information in this blog post.

Skilful management: Dan Prager

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Dan’s article originally appeared on his blog and is re-posted with permission.
Dan and Jemma Ritchie will be running a session called, “Levelling up management: Beyond carrots, sticks, and kumbaya” at LAST Conference Melbourne 2018
If you would like to attend:

Skilful management: Beyond carrots, sticks, and kumbaya

Different contexts call for different styles of management. An over-simplified summary:

The two key points:

  1. Self-organisation requires a high level of team maturity
  2. Relying on carrots and especially sticks is disastrous for complex work

Theory X and Theory Y

It’s over 50 years since Douglas McGregor introduced his Theory X and Theory Y characterisation of managers, or — as we might say today — management mindsets.
Theory X managers believe that people are largely extrinsically motivated, by rewards (yummy carrots) and punishments (beatings with sticks) and accordingly must be strictly managed. By complete contrast Theory Y managers believe that people are intrinsically motivated by the likes of Connection, Automation, Mastery, and Purpose, and function better when given support and encouragement.

In principle Theory X managers tend to favour a command-and-control style of management, while Theory Y managers will opt for self-organisation and servant leadership, sometimes parodied as everyone gathering around the campfire singing kumbaya.

The risks of Theory X command-and-control management are well-documented when it comes to knowledge work: demotivated, uncreative employees.
On the other hand the risk with “the stand back and let it happen” style of “management” as an attempt at Theory Y is that if self-organisation doesn’t spontaneously break out there can be a strong tendency to fall back into command-and-control. This is particularly the case when the manager doesn’t have any other strings to her or his bow.

Work Complexity and Team Maturity

Context is at least as important as individual mindset.
In a crisis for example, command-and-control can be appropriate. But be very wary of a manager who manufactures crises to justify a preference for personal control. Carrots and sticks can be also be effective for low-complexity work. [Here I’m using complexity as a catch-all for volatility, complexity, uncertainty, and ambiguity (VUCA).]
For high-complexity work a mature, compatible, motivated, and suitably skilled team can figure out what to do and how to do it. In this context self-organisation is key and the management role reverts to setting overall direction and providing outward facing support. In this happy context, kumbaya management works.
But what if the team is lacking in the necessary maturity to self-organise, or is short on a few key skills? Throwing them together and hoping that they gel seems like a dubious bet. That’s where skilful management (and coaching) can be of great value.
In the short term, a skilful manager can act as glue and internal support for the team while also helping them to develop in maturity to the point where they can self-organise without additional managerial support.


Really skilful managers adapt to the people and to the context. Working with people is a complex endeavour in itself and the wise learn from experiment as well as theory.

* * *
Astute readers will have noticed that I haven’t defined skilful management (yet) … stay tuned.

Dan’s Original post.