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Re: [agile-usability] roles, skills, and hats

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  • Scott Preece
    Robert Biddle writes: But it seems to me that roles have significant positive aspects. ... * cognitive, where having a role makes one focus strongly on
    Message 1 of 4 , Aug 15 6:32 AM
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      Robert Biddle writes:

         " But it seems to me that roles have significant positive aspects. ...
         * cognitive, where having a role makes one focus strongly on fulfilling it.
          and allows others to disengage somewhat from concern
         ... For example, I engage many times every day in activities that involve
          other people whose jobs I rely on, even though I could do, or
          potentially do, those jobs. It seems to me that we all benefit.

          Might this be true in software development?"

      This matches up with research done at Maryland in Vic Basili's group. Instead of "roles", they refer to "perspectives", particularly in the context of peer reviews of software. Having a group of people who are reading the code from specific perspectives is more effective. A lot of mistakes get made in software development just because there are too many factors in play; it's hard (or cognitively impossible) to keep them all in mind. Hence the use of checklists. Hence the use of perspectives - subdivide the issues and make individuals responsible for each area.

      regards,
      scott
      ----- Original Message ----
      From: Robert Biddle <Robert_Biddle@...>
      To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Thursday, August 14, 2008 5:38:14 PM
      Subject: [agile-usability] roles, skills, and hats

      Ron:

      > I observe that collaboration goes most smoothly when people take
      > off their hats.

      So, spurred by Ron's suggestion above, I would like to discuss the
      question of roles. Of all the agile discusson groups, I think this one
      has the largest concern for this question.

      I agree that people should not take roles too seriously, and I
      certainly agree that people with roles should have the skills
      necessary to perform them.

      But it seems to me that roles have significant positive aspects.

      I can several kinds of advantages.

      * legal, where certain kinds of roles have legal obligations
      * cognitive, where having a role makes one focus strongly on fulfilling it.
      and allows others to disengage somewhat from concern
      * social, where having a role suggests one is valued by others

      The advantage that I'd like to concentrate on is the second. For
      example, I engage many times every day in activities that involve
      other people whose jobs I rely on, even though I could do, or
      potentially do, those jobs. It seems to me that we all benefit.

      Might this be true in software development?

      I think it might. As a programmer, I think I might be happy to rely on
      a customer to be responsible for busines value, and a UI person to be
      responsible for usability. And as either of those, I might like to
      rely on a programmer to make sure the code works well. I am
      big-headed enough to think that I have skills in all those areas, and
      would be willing to contribute, and raise concerns if that work looked
      like it was in trouble. But I would be happy to think they were
      primarily someone else's responbility, at least until things get
      stressed.

      Ron said: "I observe that collaboration goes most smoothly when people
      take off their hats." Yet it seems to me that I see many instances of
      successful collaboration that work well because of people wearing
      hats. I have conducted studies of agile development teams where the
      success seems to stem from what one of my colleagues calls "role
      respect".

      Certainly this can be taken too far. But it seems to me that roles can
      help.

      Comments, anyone?

      Robt

      PS. Ron suggested that a de-emphasis on roles was a part of agile
      software developement. Can someone please explain to me why?

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