Welcome back to the Meet Our Team Q&A series. My name is Daniela Williams, Project Manager at ISE, and I’ll be asking ISE team members questions to help give insight into what makes us tick.
Today I'm interviewing Dennis Corpman, Senior Software Engineer, and resident Agile Coach for the ISE Scrum practitioners.
Q. How long have you worked at ISE and what did you do prior?
Dennis: I've been with ISE since March, 2010. Prior to ISE, I worked for Intermec Technologies Corporation headquartered in Everett, Washington, which specialized in building ruggedized handheld computers and software for applications like Direct Store Delivery (DSD) and Field Service. Before Intermec, I worked for ACT, in Iowa City, Iowa developing Financial Aid Software for managing individual student financial aid packages by college or universities.
Q. You are currently leading the Scrum Master Community of Practice (CoP) at ISE. What impact has this had at ISE?
Dennis: It's been a great way for our Agilists to learn more about Agile and share their experiences, successes and failures. The team coaches each other beyond the basics of being Scrum Master so that we each improve our skill sets.
Q. What piece of advice do you have for other companies that are interested in starting a CoP?
Dennis: There are two that I see as being the most compelling: commitment and facilitation. First, the enterprise needs to be committed to allowing the CoP to meet regularly, engaging individuals who are committed to learning, sharing and interacting on a regular basis, and acting upon the recommendations given by the CoP. Second, you'll need a facilitator to ensure everyone is meeting regularly and maintains the group cohesion by creating a positive atmosphere and engaging all team members in group activities. A good facilitator should help the group decide on the structure and process for the meetings, keep the meeting focused, regulate the flow of discussion, and deal with conflict.
Q. This year you have organized a couple of hackathons for one of our clients. What advantages have you seen from this approach to problem solving?
Dennis: Hackathons are a great way to bring concentrated and uninterrupted focus on a tool or for proving out new technologies. The short time frame, say a day or two, forces the participants to narrow their creativity to one or two areas instead of getting distracted by too many options. The goal is to bring enough people together to exercise a new tool or develop proof-of-concept implementations of a new technology to make a decision whether to pursue further investment. Successful hackathons conclude with participants demonstrating their results to the other contributors and stakeholders as soon as possible after the completion of the hackathon.
Q. What do you do for fun?
Dennis: Since I was very young, I've enjoyed bicycling. Starting sometime in late 1999 or 2000 I got interested in long distance riding. By long distance, I mean leisure group rides where we go from town to town accumulating 40-100 miles in a ride. I also enjoy auctions. There's something about the rhythm of the auctioneer, the thrill of outfoxing another bidder, and buying an item at a bargain that draws me in.