John Ferguson Smart

Create high-performance, high-impact teams

The most comprehensive programme in BDD, Test Automation and Software Craftsmanship on the market.

Our mission is to help you create high-performance, high-impact teams with state-of-the-art skills in BDD, test automation and software craftsmanship. Teams passionate about delivering value to their organisations, and with a self-sustaining culture of excellence and continual improvement.

 

Rethinking how to build great teams

The Serenity Dojo Programme involves a powerful cocktail of immersion, mentoring and active learning to help your team become 50 to 200 percent more effective at delivering business value and high quality production code and automated tests. We flip conventional training and coaching on its head, using the latest research in Learning Science to provide a battle-tested programme that goes above and beyond in terms of cost-effectiveness and measurable outcomes.

Three Streams

The programme curriculum is deeply rooted in learning practical and applicable skills. Participants hone their skills from three different and mutually-reinforcing perspectives, with focus on their preferred speciality:

  1. Software Craftsmanship, which focuses on core development skills, such as Test-Driven Design, Clean Coding practices and design patterns
  2. Test Automation, which focuses on how to write high quality,robust and maintainable automated acceptance tests
  3. Behaviour-Driven Development, which focuses on discovering the fastest path to delivering valuable features through conversations, concrete examples, and executable specifications.

How it works

The programme can be broken down into three phases:

1. Onboarding

  • Initiation

  • Preparation

This phase is designed to determine the needs of the team, establish baselines, and prepare the team for the immersion phase. It involves two steps:

Initiation
An initial 1-2 day workshop evaluates the team's current level and establish a tailored programme suited to the team's specific needs.

Preparation
During the period leading up to the first immersion, team members become familiar with the online course material.

2. Immersion

  • Interactive learning workshops

  • Coaching on real- world projects

This phase uses individual and group workshops, mentoring, and active learning exercises to draw out the full potential of each team member, and to help them apply the practices to their own real- world projects.

Workshops
During this phase, onsite face-to-face workshops helps participants validate and build on what they learnt during the onboarding. Progress is made visible and celebrated with formal grading and award ceremonies.

Applied coaching
Assisted by their mentors, team members learn to apply what they have learnt to their real-world projects.

3. Accompaniment

  • Ongoing coaching and mentoring

  • Follow-up immersion workshops

After the immersion ends, teams go back to their routine. But the learning process doesn't stop there!

Remote Mentoring
Team members continue to benefit from the support of their dedicated mentor, in the form of remote coaching and mentoring sessions.

Followup workshops
Every 6 months the team members get to attend a followup immersion to help them further consolidate and expand their skills.

Immersion Workshops

The immersion workshops are at the heart of the programme, and is where much of the real learning and professional growth occurs. Since course material and exercises are all available online as part of the preparation (see "The Flipped Classroom"), we don't need to teach the basics. Instead, the immersion workshops are about mastery and perfection of the technical and non-technical skills participants need to reach the top of their game.

We run one longer immersion workshop at the start of the program, then shorter immersion workshops at periodical intervals (usually every 6 months).

The first part of the immersion process involves a tailored mixture of interactive learning and hands-on individual and group exercises. Because participants have already learned the core material and done many practical exercises, there is no need to teach the basics again. Instead, we can focus on developing the strengths of each participant, and helping them learn to work more effectively as a team.

The second part of the immersion process involves the participants working on their real-world projects, where they get the opportunity to be guided and assisted by their mentors. During this whole process, the interactive mentoring and coaching activities continue, allowing participants to apply their growing skills to areas where they will have the most impact.

Flipped Classroom

Professional education is currently in a phase of profound disruption. From the Khan Academy to Ivy League universities, theoretical teaching is moving from the front of the classroom to the world of online videos and exercises. Participants study course material in their own time and at their own pace. The classroom becomes a place of applied learning, where the instructors help the participants on their specific challenges, and where learning soars.

This idea of "active learning" is central to the approach we have chosen for the Serenity Dojo programme. We have created an online platform that contains a rich library of video material that would be delivered in the classroom in our conventional training format. With currently over 50 targeted videos, hundreds of exercises and more material being added each week, the Serenity Dojo platform provides a unique opportunity to realise your full potential as a software development professional.

Our onboarding phase means that you get access to this material from the word go, well before any face-to-face workshops. After a short initial onsite evaluation, we prepare a tailored curriculum for each participant, to guide you through the material, providing regular checkpoints, visibility and feedback as you prepare for the immersion workshops. Thanks to this innovative format, many participants have even managed to gain a belt level or two before they arrive!

The Belt System

Participants go through different stages of learning, and the training material and exercises that will benefit them the most varies at each stage. A key part of the programme is understanding where each participant is situated in their learning journey. We use a system of coloured belts similar to those used in many martial arts to model this progression.

Participants climb the belt ladder through a potent combination of theoretical training and exercises, practical work on real-world projects, mentoring and coaching. Participants are formally graded at the start of their journey, and at regular points along the way.

The practical impact of climbing the belt ladder can be seen in improved productivity and throughput and higher quality work. Productivity is measured by net business value delivered. Developers deliver higher value, higher quality features with fewer defects. Test automation specialists write more relevant, more informative and more robust automated tests that are cheaper to maintain as the test suite grows. We find that a blue or brown belt developer is on average 2 to 3 times as effective as a white or yellow belt.

    Level Theme
Black Expert Mastery
Red Strong Proficient “The bigger picture”
Brown Proficient “Thinking out of the box”
Blue Strong Competent A deeper understanding
Green Competent Good foundations
Orange Advanced Beginner Knows the theory
Yellow Beginner Knows the basics
White Novice Ready to learn

In the teams we see in most large organisations, junior developers can typically be situated between Yellow and Orange Belt, and most senior developers between Orange and Green Belt. In more advanced teams we often see individuals at the Blue Belt level. However it is common for those individuals to be under a heavier load, since they need to both deliver the business value and also support more junior developers, with the latter impeding their ability to do the former.

The speed participants climb the belt ladder varies on their starting point and the amount of work and practice they put into the program, but it is fairly common for teams to climb on average 2-3 belt levels over the course of six months. As an example, one recent team went from Yellow/Orange belts to an average level of Blue/Brown belt over a period of six months.

Onsite Coaching and Mentoring

Immediately after the immersion workshops, participants benefit from a period of onsite support where their mentor ensures that they continue to apply what they have learnt on their real-world projects.

Remote Mentoring

Remote Mentoring is one of the cornerstones of the Serenity Dojo, and something we are very proud of. Teams are assigned a dedicated mentor to provide guidance and instruction throughout the programme. You will benefit from regular scheduled coaching calls with your mentor to help keep your learning on track, as well as more focused sessions such as pair-programming or coding dojos. More than just a simple phone call, these mentoring sessions use the latest in screen sharing and remote pair programming techniques so participants can feel like their mentor is sitting right next to them!

Monthly Webcasts

Every month, participants benefit from a webcast and group conference call. This is a great opportunity to hear about new techniques or approaches, or get better insight into the ones you already know. These webinars are also a great opportunity to ask questions or share your latest "Aha" moments with the Serenity Dojo community.

John Ferguson Smart is an international speaker, consultant, author, and a well-regarded expert in areas such as BDD, TDD, test automation, software craftsmanship and team collaboration, and author of BDD in Action, Jenkins: The Definitive Guide and Java Power Tools.

 

Jan Molak is a speaker, consultant, trainer and full-stack developer specialising in Continuous Delivery and all those aspects of a software delivery process that help make it happen. Jan is the author of the Jenkins Build Monitor, helping thousands of companies worldwide keep their builds green and the delivery process smooth.