The invention of IDD (Ice-cream Driven Development)

By Robin Stevens, Head of Software Engineering @ xyzt.ai

Leuven, June 2021 – When starting a new (development) team, it always takes some time and experimenting to find a way of working that … well, works. In software engineering there are already plenty of options available and a host of literature on each of them. Data Driven Development, Test Driven Development, Behavior Driven Development, Model Driven Development, Acceptance-Test Driven Development, … basically any noun you can think of followed by the words “Driven Development” seems to be a thing.

And as of today, Ice-cream Driven Development can be added to that list. Let me tell you the story behind its invention.

We must thank Covid-19 and the resulting working from home for this new methodology. Starting a new company and/or team is always a challenge. Doing so in the middle of a global pandemic makes it even tougher.  One of the main obstacles is getting to know each other and getting everybody on the same page.

Even though these days we have Zoom, Slack, Teams, … and a bunch of other options to keep in touch with each other, it still isn’t the same as proper face-to-face contact. That’s why our CEO Lida decided to introduce the Tuesday-afternoon-walk. The concept is very simple: instead of sitting behind your laptop on Tuesday afternoon, we would come together and go for a walk (while respecting the mandatory distance and other Covid rules).

The first walks were in our own neighborhoods. We trudged through the snow on cold but sunny winter days to discover some looks-a-bit-like-a-cow-but-clearly-isn’t-one animals in the SonianForest (Zoniënwoud).

Scottish Highland cows, Groenendaal, Hoeilaart

We learned something about the history behind one of the statues in the forest around Rotselaar, and visited the old wall just in time before it got destroyed a few weeks later.

H. Hart, Wezemaal, Rotselaar

Some of us didn’t have a forest to offer but could compensate that with a golf terrain including a tower from which you could overlook the whole 18 holes. Not sure if it was Covid or the cold and wind that caused the absence of people that day, but the view was still stunning.

The National Golf, Sterrebeek

This was already a nice change from sitting behind your desk all day. It was however during the first walk in spring weather that we realized we could improve things further. While people were cursing their choice of jackets and long trousers, somebody mumbled something about needing some ice-cream. Heads immediately turned in the group, and everybody started nodding in agreement. Yes, ice-cream would improve things. Say goodbye to showing off our neighborhoods during the walks. From now on, walks need to have an ice-salon on the route.

Overijse

And that’s how Ice-cream Driven Development was born. Do your best to make your deadlines and finish your work on time so that you have time left to do a walk on Tuesday afternoon with some ice-cream. And whatever you do, don’t plan meetings in that time slot !

Robin Stevens, Head of Software Engineering @ xyzt.ai