Interview with Gil Zilberfeld

Interview with Gil Zilberfeld

Is Unit Testing worth the effort? What is Test Driven Development? Which are its benefits?


Gil is a well-known speaker in the area of Agile. What is interesting is his expertise in unit testing and TDD and that is why I think his talk would be really interesting and relevant for us as developers. He is also running a workshop in Agile Greece Summit 2016 on Advanced Agile Programming Techniques. It is a full day workshop of coding, for developers who want to improve their design, coding, and testing practices.

Let’s see his interview.

We are really excited to have him in Agile Greece Summit 2016 and looking forward to his speech. Did you get your ticket?


Q: Could you briefly introduce yourself?

My name is Gil and I’m an agile coach. I’ve been in software for more than 20 years now and have done almost everything in many ways, some more successful than others :). In the last 10 years, I work with developers (on development practices, proper design techniques, unit testing, and TDD), testers (strategy, automation, and planning) and product managers (building MVPs, creating roadmaps and backlogs and living in peace with the development team). And of course, working with the entire teams and management to be more effective and productive.

Q: What will your talk be about, exactly? Why this topic?

I’m giving two sessions as part of the summit. The first one is a full day tutorial called “Advanced Agile Programming Techniques”. This is a full day of coding, for developers who want to improve their design, coding, and testing practices. I’ve done this tutorial a couple of times, and people learn different things every time. Some see how they can use the techniques the next day, others want to learn more about refactoring – different learning experiences. All say it’s a lot of fun!
On conference day, I’m giving a talk called “Why Test Driven Development is important to everyone”. There’s a nice story behind this talk. A few years ago, I gave a small TDD workshop about building a spaceship. Instead of the usual developer crowd, I was surprised to see people walking in without laptops, some with iPads. I thought they came into the wrong room…

In fact, they were a group of testers and business analysts who wanted to learn about how to convince developers in their teams start working with TDD. The workshop we did (made up on the spot, and got great feedback by the way), turned out to be the session we’re going to do at Agile Summit Greece. It’s an interactive session, where we’re going to discuss and live-code TDD, go over principles and coding practices that everyone should know, and in some cases demand, from the developers. For the people who know me: Examples, of course, come from the Star Wars universe 🙂

Q: What do you think could be the main gain for participants in your session?

The tutorial presents different approaches to solving problems in coding. One the responses I get a lot is “I didn’t realize there was so much to learn about coding”.
For the TDD session, it’s the understanding how TDD can fit into the work of an agile team, not just as a developer activity, but as an activity for design, testing, and correctness of the solution. The name of the sessions sums it up 🙂

Q: Can you give some advice to teams/organizations that are transitioning to agile?

Get a good coach and have patience. A good coach will not just tell you to “do stand up meetings” or teach you planning poker. These are nice techniques but they are more successful in a favorable context. A good coach realizes what the team needs and helps them improve based on that, not inflicting practices on them.

Patience is very important. Transitioning to a new way of work takes time, and is full of learning, which requires failures and frustration. Be kind, patient and use those learning events to improve.

Q: How do you see the evolution of Agile in the future?

Agile is evolving as we speak. It really is hard to define it anymore, because it covers a whole lot of material, practices, technologies. But I think “true agile” will continue to be true to the Agile Manifesto and its principles. “We are uncovering better ways of developing
software by doing it and helping others do it.” The only thing that I’m hoping will evolve is “developing software” to “any work”.

Q: You have given many interviews/presentations about agile. Is there a question you wish to have been asked but no one ever asked you?

I’d like to hear the question “Is agile right for everyone?”. We assume that agile has all the answers, and if something doesn’t work, we are not “doing” it correctly. Agile is a set of principles help to navigate in uncertainty, without a guarantee for success. If we understand this, our lives will improve. We have options to try other methods that work may well in other contexts.

Q: What you like to say something in advance to the Greek Agile community?

First time for me in Greece, and I’m looking forward to meeting new friends, discuss agile topics and be challenged!

Get your tickets for Agile Greece Summit 2016

Agile Greece summit 2016


George Psistakis

I am a lousy singer and painter. Co-founder of the easiest data management platfrom. Ever… Blendo (
– I love Agile. Got certified as a Scrum Master and, along with more friends, a founding member of (
– I like community management and I am co-organizer of the API Athens (
API-Athens/) and the Agile Greece ( meetups.
– I do some blogging too and contribute to Developer Economics and write my own blog.