Mentoring trajectories in an evolving agile workplace

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



© 2016 ACM. Agile approaches to software development offer flexibility and autonomy to developers, while demanding discipline and attentiveness. At its best, agile constitutes an idealized vision of Wenger's Community of Practice: one where the essence of the software practice is freely negotiated by participants following self-determined trajectories of identity within the community. While agile frameworks prescribe ways of doing, in reality these codified practices must adapt to a real workplace. Nowhere is this more plainly seen than in the onboarding stage of new employees: this is the point where newcomers establish an identity and establish means of participating within the development community. We report on the evolving nature of onboarding and mentoring at a mature software development firm that has practiced Scrum for a decade. As the firm has scaled up to an international purveyor of specialized engineering software and services, the way in which new employees are brought into the community of practice has changed profoundly. We view this history through a series of lenses: those of workplace participants entering the firm at different stages of the firm's history. We follow the history of the onboarding process through the perspectives of several employees, and we focus on the trajectories of certain key employees as their roles change from novice to mentor.

Publication Title

Proceedings - International Conference on Software Engineering