Upcoming LeanCoffee at Viewpoint

Join us for Lean Coffee at Viewpoint Construction Software on Wednesday, August 5 at 7:30am. Viewpoint is located at the east landing of the Hawthorne Bridge, at 1510 SE Water Ave. Come to the Tech Center on the eastern side of Water Ave.

Lean Coffee is a simple, efficient, and fun way to discuss open ended topics in a small group. We’ll tend to focus on agile software development, but welcome any and all topics of interest. Porltand Lean Coffee is always an open, free community event.

For more on Lean Coffee, check out http://leancoffee.org/

And We’re Back

Lean Coffee PDX is back. Our next event will be on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at Old Town Pizza, 226 NW Davis Street, Portland, OR.

We’re going to try something a little different for the next few months. Instead of one event on a regular schedule and at the same place every week, we’re going to try a variety of events at different times, different days and different locations.

July 30, 2014

This was our first meeting in the new 29th floor lunch room at the New Relic office in Portland, up from the 28th floor.


Discussion topics :

  • Is wearable technology ready for adoption?
  • “Sexy Tech” (Node, go, Core OS, Docker, etc)
  • What defines a good interview question?
  • Conference Behavior
  • Human Speed
  • What is a computer (VM, container, cluster, etc)

March 12, 2014

Board, March 12, 2014


  1. Time to test vs. time to Develop
  2. How long is too long for a commute
  3. Balancing Dev & Support
  4. Have you used Lean Coffee elsewhere?
  5. Product Release: Marketing vs. SiteOps
  6. Retrospective frequency
  7. Attracting Talented people to Portland
  8. Cars vs transit vs bikes. How can communities support multiple models?

And we had a beautiful view:

View, March 12, 2014

December 4, 2013

Thanks, once again, to Colin Dabritz for compiling these detailed notes.
Topics that made the cut:

What should you ask potential employers

  • Objectives behind this? Important to know, but also ask good questions can affect how you are perceived
  • How do you figure out if you really want to work there?
  • Ask about exact tools you are using? (Some say DON’T ask this, ask more general questions)
  • Some think you should ask about broad things, mission, vision
  • Questions that show company culture – e.g. what version control, favorite editors, libraries
  • Developers should have opinions, what tools in detail is my first question to potential hires
  • Tools is valuable, because it isn’t an idealized answer, it’s specific
  • What do developers do? e.g. what do you feel developers jobs are, what is the work that they do? (Should have informed opinion, match might matter)
  • List of questions going in
  • Contextually intelligent questions
  • Questions that help answer concerns the business might have
  • What types of problems? (e.g. are you doing something interesting)
  • How do you challenge your developers?
  • Ask business model questions, where does the money come from?
  • What value do you provide?
  • Satisfaction is most importantly your direct boss
  • Tell me about management philosophy, who would be my supervisor, can I talk to them
  • How supported do you feel?
  • Can I talk to some of your workers, one on one?
  • What real role do you have, what is the real responsibility of this position?
  • The box they perceive they are putting you into affects you hugely
  • Major factors Autonomy, mastery, purpose – will you have these? Investigate
  • What books have you read recently?
  • ongoing career development
  • Personal development, e.g. conferences, training, more opportunities, technologies 

Agile/lean and “enterprise solutions” – Will it blend?

  • Continuous integration, huge process?
  • Are these enterprise solutions compatible with the agile work style
  • “UK government digital services manual” 500 pg online book, how to use lean/agile
  • DOD has a similar one
  • Often the difference is agile is “good enough” and get better
  • “Locking things down” is boring an unfun
  • Internal deployment vs external deployment
  • Huge companies sometimes have no plan, agile, e.g. mozilla with 500 engineers
  • agilefluency.com (website)
  • Interactions with contracting?


  • Surveillance society
  • “Surveillance” vs “Suveillance” (su = from the bottom up, e.g. citizens recording government workers)
  • Historical context – there has been an information asymmetry
  • If you even got to “symmetry” can it be equal when one side has more power?
  • Secrecy to gather information, backdoors, MITM, compromising security
  • “You should write as if everything you write your grandmother may read”
  • If you don’t think your privacy is important, no one will

Conferences – Which ones to go to?

  • What is the right number?
  • Which ones do you go to?
  • Diversity – different areas or topics e.g. IT and Not IT
  • broad? deep? Between?
  • Focused area – pick at least one deep conference
  • One broad industry conference
  • People – Do you have a community there?
  • Are you working? Speaking? Networking?
  • Starting your own conference?
  • Biased toward open conference, conference style
  • Look like an exchange, unstructured? Hardwired speaker? Tracks? Or dog and pony show?
  • Learning – go to open space conference, networking any kind of conference?
  • How much are you willing to pay your own way? If your business sends you, they may expect reports, notes, re-presentation etc.
  • Cost – who pays? How much?
  • ROI – Myself? Management?
  • Can be exhausting, don’t push too hard. Can you find the time/energy?
  • Maybe smaller alternatives, conferences area big chunk. Things like lean coffee get a part of it.
  • “Kind of like a CD when you just want one song” just that ONE speaker..
  • How is the conference actually run
  • Suggested:
    • Nonprofit Developers Summit
    • Oscon
    • PDX Barcamp
    • Agile Open NW

Human bug tracker – What are we bad at?

  • Hardware bug – eyesight issues (write this up)
  • Need a faster dev cycle – Continuous integration
  • Pokemon model? (Evolution of the individual)
  • The redundancy isn’t good enough
  • Logic fallacies
  • Are our heuristics up to date with our current context? (e.g. emotions, cold logic is very expensive)
  • Need to deprecate some features that no longer apply
  • Is the system deterministic, or nondetermistic?
  • Emotional intelligence not up to leadership challenges
  • Huge psychological part to quality (Deming)
  • Constancy of purpose – drive fear out of the workplace
  • Bug tracker is too big, needs a specific purpose 
  • NOT EVERYTHING IS A DEFECT – It’s not a bug, it’s a feature
  • Buddhist conception – the only thing that’s wrong with you is that you think there is something wrong with you
  • Decision making is a big thing
  • Am I picking the right tool for the job?
  • What does it mean to be the right tool?
  • “I am not a test case”
  • What heuristic do we use? “Is everyone using it?”
  • Pairing? Issues with teams, groups, collectives, interrelations
  • Can we depend on the wisdom of the crowd?
  • “Good decision making” Is it technically sound, does it result in higher quality, will it be implemented, does it help to build the competence of the group (provide value)

Where do you find beauty in unusual places?

  • Overcast days
  • Unusual thing that impressed you
  • Simple, effective systems
  • Humanity – people being people
  • Solving the same problem with less code
  • Technical/professional excellence, e.g. an amazing waiter
  • “I find process improvement beautiful” -> “I find that unusual”
  • “I cry at training videos, where people get a lot of job satisfaction out of them”
  • Biggest Loser when the contestants break out and explain “why I don’t deserve to be happy”
  • Unexpected patterns or congruencies – driving along catching a beautiful moment
  • Unique moments, nonrepeatable
  • Deciding to see something as special, has to feel fleeting
  • The unexpected
  • Unintended beauty in art – e.g. a mural, where it being faded adds beauty
  • Can be beauty in mass produced – owning it makes it yours
  • Unique – Imperfections and wear

Working alone vs socially

  • Some people like to work alone (after planing). Some people like working together, e.g. groups, pairs. Is it ethical to want them to change?
  • Needs of individuals, vs needs of the work
  • Some work demands collaboration, who do you assign where?
  • Maybe if you want people to change, they don’t fit that need
  • e.g. Different tools for different cases
  • Extroversion vs introversion – tend to see introversion in engineers, continuum
  • Need alone time to recharge
  • “I thrive in social programming”
  • Even alone, still need to communicate
  • Is the work still getting done? If it is, it doesn’t matter how as much
  • “Software groups are like rock bands” e.g. pop-punk vs sellout, vs shared vision
  • Signals you can send to others, this is not a social time e.g. headphones
  • What happens when there are clashes between work styles – bad one: “Everyone will work like I work”
  • Negotiating a place in between is important


  • Score square worked well, easier to sort (square in corner, votes go in square)
  • New guy: Loved topics # covered, time boxing, kept energy up
  • Sometimes I was surprised
  • Broadness of the questions works well – right scope
  • Reget not splitting – people showing up right up to the last minute – group was a bit big. Four seems too small.
  • converse – really enjoyed larger group, constant discussion “woah, one conversation at a time” more energy. harder to dominate conversation.
  • Could we force split early? Hard after intro/voting
  • new relic rule – arrive before the meeting starts, always get done with at least 5 minutes until hour (or half).
  • Tardiness is a problem
  • Could have a lagging group
  • second – actually liked larger group – don’t like having to choose (e.g. what people? topics? room for me?)
  • Hard to hear all the way down the table
  • Other discussion format only enjoyed as much as this – the liberty fund socratic session format (indicate what you have to contribute, e.g. small amount, large amount to add, hand signs)