cyber-dojos at accu conference

Here are some photos of the first of three cyber-dojos Olve Maudal and I ran at the accu conference. In a cyber-dojo the developers at each laptop all do the same kata exercise via a web browser. Every so often a small bell rings and each laptop has to then get to green (all tests passing). Only when all laptops get to green does the 'improvement cycle' end (I've decided I'm not going to use the word 'iteration' any more). At the start of each improvement cycle the developers create new groups and move to a new laptop.

I have observed that even when given explicit instructions that the kata is a team exercise and not a competition, once a small group of developers has settled at a laptop a strong "silo" mentality takes hold; N laptops leads to N silos. I've only run a few cyber-dojos but already I have seen examples of players explicitly asking if they are allowed to talk to the other groups! Of players about to ask a question to the other groups and their partners stopping them, etc. Is there anything we could introduce to cyber-dojo to help participants break out of this mentality? To "think team" when at a laptop? I welcome any ideas.

Mike Long (who attended the 2nd accu cyber-dojo and is a thoroughly nice bloke) has written a blog entry on his cyber-dojo experience.


  1. It as probably because I turned up a bit late, but I didn't get the "team effort" message and spent a lot of time trying to work out if we were meant to be trying to compete or not - and whether, if that was left ambiguous, it was a prisoners dilema (you don't know if everyone else is cooperating or competing, so you have to assume they are competing).

    Learning afterwards that it was meant to be a team effort was a bit of a let down :-)

    It was great fun, though, either way. It was certainly fascinating to see how the solution emerged holographically.

  2. as for how you can break the silos - I think putting up on a big screen or poster, that's omnivisible, the words, "it's ok to talk to other teams", should do it.

  3. That fits very well with another Olve and I had. Thanks.

  4. Another thought that is.