Martin Fowler (@martinfowler) wrote a great article about the RapidFTR code jams we've been hosting every Tuesday night in New York and with varying degrees of regularity in London, Melbourne, San Francisco, Porto Allegre, and Chennai. His article pretty much runs down the recipe that Zubair Khan and Tom Elkin put together in London and was then polished into a smoothly running machine by the shockingly unlinkable Chris George. He's definitely the champion that Martin refers to here:
To make meaningful progress, you need someone to prepare for each code jam by breaking down work-items into something small enough that people will be able to finish them during the time at the jam. Whatever people may say and hope, they'll rarely work on the project outside code jam hours, and the schedule is too infrequent to want half-done things hanging over. Small tasks allow teams to make perceptible progress each jam - which helps keep motivation high. We like to put these tasks online before each event so people can prepare if they want to, or just get a feel for what we're working on. We also set up a mailing list to keep up regular communication on the jam and support anyone who does contribute outside of the jam.
Our regular code-jams succeed best when the group has a couple of champions who take the lead in organizing the event. It's best to have more than one champion, to cope with the work load and provide some resilience if they are absent for a while.
The other ingredients, of course, are beer and pizza and chocolate covered pretzels, and music. We've dabbled with Spotify and TurntableFM and Tim Cochran's Radiohead collection, but have recently been working to a Pandora channel that's become increasingly bizarre. Each person adds a song or artist every week, with no repeats. After all, you can't change the world without mariachi, 90s corporate rock, acoustic folk, dubstep, and plenty of Beyonce. Listen here.
Read Martin's post on his blog.
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