The following is printed with permission from Keith Ray. It originally appeared here. The post is preserved here in unadulterated form. In this post he makes certain assertions that start to link Agile practices with the ability to manifest a Learning Organization. This is a great read.
Continuous Learning. I’ve always said that XP requires a Learning Organization, and this practice make it explicit.
and this one…
“….If everybody isn’t learning, then learning becomes a subversive activity.”
At the BayXP meeting last night, Joshua Kerievsky, Russ Rufer, Somik Raha, and Tracy Bialik of Industrial Logic gave a presentation on their version of XP that they have developed over the last several years. They named it “Industrial Extreme Programming” (IXP). What follows here are taken from my notes. Any errors are my own.
IXP is what Industrial Logic has been doing the past few years as they work with their clients in training and coaching XP projects. Joshua said he was concerned with recent “blendings” of XP and other methods (DSDM, FDD, Scrum, Crystal) because some of those blendings were throwing away XP’s planning practices (one of the most valuable aspects of XP). Many of these blendings were for the most part untried and unproven, as well, though the unblended methods have records of success.
IXP doesn’t remove any of the core practices of XP (except Metaphor, and few teams have really felt like they successfully used XP’s Metaphor practice). IXP builds on XP, adapting it for survival in larger companies, highly political companies, and large teams.
Kent Beck defined four values of Extreme Programming, values he felt were essential… other values were good, but he wanted to emphasis four in particular. XP’s values are Communication, Courage, Feedback, and Simplicity. Agile Modeling adopted those four and added Humility.
Joshua and his team have chosen five values, which they not only want to emphasize, but insist that the absence of these values in the project or company will cause failure and unhappiness. The IXP values are: Communication, Simplicity, Learning, Quality, and Enjoyment.
The value of Enjoyment is sometimes deemed controversial. Joshua considered Fun, and probably felt Enjoyment sounded better. People who enjoy their work are more likely to want to learn I’ve always said that XP requires a Learning Organization). People who enjoy their work and enjoy working together are more likely to have the teamwork that XP requires.
Quality is “we know it when we see it.” Quality products, quality code, a quality process, quality people.
These are the original XP practices that IXP includes (more or less), sometimes with modified names and meanings: [names in brackets are the original XP names, or the names I prefer over Kent’s names.]
The name changes are for clarity and to expand things beyond just coding — people can pair on other things besides code, collective ownership can extend beyond code.
The new practices are:
Readiness Assessment answers the question “Are they able to transition to IXP?” See http://www.industriallogic.com/xp/assessment.html.
Viability Assessment answers the question “Is the project idea viable? Profitable? Feasible? Does the project have the necessary resources?”
Project Community expands on Kent Beck’s “Whole Team” concept. “People who are affected by the project and who effect it.” (Hope I got that quote right.) This includes QA staff, middle and upper level managers, tech support staff, programmers, DBAs, customers, end-users, and probably marketing and sales. (Reference to David Schmaltz / True North Consulting’s Project Community Forum.)
Project Chartering provides the Vision and Mission, as well as the definition of who is in the Project Community. A light-weight exercise that seems to be necessary for clarifying the project’s goals.
Test-Driven Management requires objective measures be defined for the success of the project. External results like “support 100 users by December 2003.” The Whole Team cooperates to achieve this goal. Also defines return on investment.
Sustainable Pace. They considered renaming this to “Slack” (see the book by Tom DeMarco). An example of the value of slack is that it can provide the time for someone to write the tool needed to increase development speed — too much focus on getting stories implemented quickly can be sub-optimal.
Storytelling. I think Joshua separated this out from Planning Game in order to emphasize that story-telling is a natural way to get requirements (sometimes after a bit of coaxing). IXP stories are not necessarily “user-centered” stories, since they may address concerns of administrators, maintainers, etc. “A story is an excuse to have a conversation.” Conversation is required to understand some stories — a story that can’t be understood can’t be implemented. Five words for a story title was also mentioned.
Storytesting. One word, to parallel Storytelling. This is defining the acceptance tests, but not writing them. IXP coaches help their clients in both Storytelling and Storytesting. Ideally, you do want “executable documentation” and they talked up Fit by Ward Cunningham – a framework that allows anyone using any editor capable of creating HTML tables to be able to specify acceptance tests. (Programmer help is still required to plug an application into Fit’s acceptance test framework.)
Planning Game. Joshua says that it is very weird that some of the hybrid methods are throwing away the planning game. This practice is so useful that many of Industrial Logic’s clients, who did not adopt all of XP, did adopt the Planning Game. Still, the concept of “velocity” (work done per iteration) seems to elude some clients
Frequent Releases – frequent end-user releases — same as XP’s practice. Enables rapid return on investment. Releasing to end-users provides opportunity for feedback, to find issues in deployment, issues raised by real live users. “Without learning, feedback does no good”.
Small Teams — for large projects, set up networks of small teams, with their own code-bases and coding rooms. A 30-person project might consist of teams as large as ten people and as small as three. Sometimes there might be a testing team and/or refactoring team that join the each of other teams at various times and then move on. Industrial Logic practices Pair Coaching, which does not require that both coaches be together at all times. Pair Coaching does enable coaching larger projects than a single coach could cope with.
Sitting Together — Joshua says that the term “Open Workspace” turns some people off, but it is the same concept. He has seen a 40-person XP team in one very large room, but that’s unusual. He has also seen one or more people give up the office they worked hard to get, because pairing in the same room as other people let them focus better and learn more. Sitting together / pair-programming can be done via internet collaboration, so it isn’t limited to open workspaces. The gave an example of a team split in two time-zones, who decided to synchronize their hours to allow more “virtual pairing”.
Continuous Learning. I’ve always said that XP requires a Learning Organization, and this practice make it explicit. Examples… Study groups who are not just allowed, but encouraged to get together for three hours a week, during office hours, because they know this helps them advance in their careers. XP Coaches who assign practice drills to the programmers or QA testers. “Lunch Break” learning groups show that management doesn’t care enough about their employees learning. An XP coach in Italy spends an hour a day teaching his junior programmers — whose skills are rapidly advancing. I think an member of the audience said “If everybody isn’t learning, then learning becomes a subversive activity.” Joshua also said that “resume-driven-design” tends to happen because programmers are starving to learn, but not given opportunities to do so.
Iterative Usability. The UI must be usable and tested regularly. Management-Tests should be tied into Iterative Usability. Redesign the UI as soon as feedback shows its flaws. Paper-based GUI design was also mentioned.
Time was running out, so the remaining practices were discussed quickly…
Evolutionary Design. Drives all design. Their tutorial has ten practices for this. (http://www.sdmagazine.com/documents/s=7928/sdmsdw3d/sdmsdw3d.html.)
Coding Standard. Have one.
Pairing. As per XP, but not just programmers.
Collective Ownership. As per XP, supported by tests, pairing, etc.
Retrospectives are a critical practice. Some clients are reluctant to get 40 people together for 2 or 3 days for a full project retrospect, but they should do it for the unexpected learnings that come from it. Also do mini-retrospectives each iteration.
Refactoring. Early and often as per XP. Don’t let “refactoring debt” accumulate.
Domain Driven Design. Even though never officially a part of XP, it has been done by every good XP programmer that Joshua knows. The Model objects are kept separate from the rest of the code (GUI, etc.) The acceptance tests normally operate on the model objects, skipping the GUI. See the book on this subject at http://domainlanguage.com/. See also Erik Evan’s “Ubiquitous Language”.
Story-Test-Driven-Development. First write a failing acceptance tests. Then use the TDD cycle (failing programmer test, code to make programmer test pass, refactor) until the acceptance test passes. This is “top-down” TDD, and it best avoids writing unnecessary code.
Continuous Integration. As per XP.