Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Tyranny of Flexible Scope?

Expand Messages
  • Jason Yip
    I recently read a April 2004 Scientific American article called The Tyranny of Choice by Barry Schwartz. I first learned of his research from a reference in
    Message 1 of 11 , Jan 1, 2005
    • 0 Attachment
      I recently read a April 2004 Scientific American article called The
      Tyranny of Choice by Barry Schwartz. I first learned of his research
      from a reference in Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman.

      In a nutshell, not having choice leads to disappointment but having
      many choices and "choosing wrong" leads to regret. Apparently regret
      is a greater detriment to happiness than disappointment.

      Lessons from the article are:
      - Choose when to choose
      - Learn to accept "good enough"
      - Don't worry about what you're missing
      - Control expectations

      So, triggered by the talk about Optional Scope contracts, I'm
      wondering if I or others have observed the "tyranny of choice"
      phenomenon manifested as resistance to introducing a more flexible
      scope approach.

      Don't know where I'm going with this yet... probably need to do more
      observations and reflect a bit more first...
    • Michael Feathers
      ... I read the same thing and I thought it was very interesting. I don t think it maps to XP well. The customer team is usually acting as an agent for other
      Message 2 of 11 , Jan 2, 2005
      • 0 Attachment
        Jason Yip wrote:

        >I recently read a April 2004 Scientific American article called The
        >Tyranny of Choice by Barry Schwartz. I first learned of his research
        >from a reference in Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman.
        >
        >In a nutshell, not having choice leads to disappointment but having
        >many choices and "choosing wrong" leads to regret. Apparently regret
        >is a greater detriment to happiness than disappointment.
        >
        >Lessons from the article are:
        >- Choose when to choose
        >- Learn to accept "good enough"
        >- Don't worry about what you're missing
        >- Control expectations
        >
        >

        I read the same thing and I thought it was very interesting. I don't
        think it maps to XP well. The customer team is usually acting as an
        agent for other users, so they don't tend to feel regret except in the
        abstract... in terms of missed opportunities.

        To map it, think about having a personal shopper who is going to buy
        toothpaste and other items for you within a budget. They may regret not
        getting a better buy on toothpaste later when they have to use your
        budget for something else that you need, but it won't have the immediacy
        it would have if you were making the choice for yourself.

        Michael Feathers
        author, Working Effectively with Legacy Code
        www.objectmentor.com
      • Jason Yip
        ... wrote: ... I m trying to think back to my own experiences, and I suspect that the better Customers , the ones that were most involved in
        Message 3 of 11 , Jan 2, 2005
        • 0 Attachment
          --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Michael Feathers
          <mfeathers@m...> wrote:
          ...
          > I read the same thing and I thought it was very interesting. I don't
          > think it maps to XP well. The customer team is usually acting as an
          > agent for other users, so they don't tend to feel regret except in the
          > abstract... in terms of missed opportunities.

          I'm trying to think back to my own experiences, and I suspect that the
          better "Customers", the ones that were most involved in the project,
          might be more susceptible to this regret.

          Personality changes the equation as well. Optimists tend not to have
          much regret.

          The thing is, I recall a situation where a product manager said
          something along the lines of "this is a lot tougher because I'm not
          sure if I'm picking the right features". The tyranny of choice
          suggests this should be common. So is it? Has anyone else heard or
          seen something similar?
        • Jeff Grigg
          ... I ve had several customers resist setting priorities and making choices. I ve considered this behavior irrational, but I think this thread is helping me be
          Message 4 of 11 , Jan 3, 2005
          • 0 Attachment
            --- "Jason Yip" <j.c.yip@c...> wrote:
            > The thing is, I recall a situation where a product manager
            > said something along the lines of "this is a lot tougher
            > because I'm not sure if I'm picking the right features".
            > The tyranny of choice suggests this should be common. So
            > is it? Has anyone else heard or seen something similar?

            I've had several customers resist setting priorities and making
            choices.

            I've considered this behavior irrational, but I think this thread is
            helping me be more sympathetic. Being something of an "optimizer"
            myself, I regularly experience stress in making choices. So I
            restrict my choices by declaring a few properties I find desirable,
            and then restricting my choices to just those. While an excess of
            choices may make me /feel/ uneasy, it certainly does enable me to
            specialize and pursue my own special interests in ways that would
            otherwise be quite impossible. Where else could I talk about scoring
            the bowling game, if I were restricted to talking only with people I
            regularly see in person?

            For my customers, I take a classic time management approach: "There
            will be priorities." (Whatever we do first /is/ the top priority,
            whether we want it to be or not.) "If you don't set the priorities,
            I will." Typically, when they see my choices (even when I do my best
            to make "good" choices) they realize that they could make "better"
            choices -- ones more aligned with /their/ values and interests. And
            so they "pick up the ball" and make the choices themselves.


            On the other hand, there are cases where the consequences of the
            choices are significant and the cost of getting and understanding all
            the relevant information also high, so it makes sense to defer
            decisions to a specialized "expert" -- one who has made the
            investment to gather and analyze all the relevant factors. But you
            have to weigh that against the fact that their values may not be the
            same as yours.

            That became obvious to me recently when buying a car: I value
            Consumer Reports, and read their rankings, but it quickly became
            clear that they value different attributes than I. Same goes for
            movie reviews.
          • Ron Jeffries
            ... I had that same experience. However, I have also found that I value their rankings more than I did N years ago. I ve not been able to decide whether they
            Message 5 of 11 , Jan 3, 2005
            • 0 Attachment
              On Monday, January 3, 2005, at 4:33:24 PM, Jeff Grigg wrote:

              > That became obvious to me recently when buying a car: I value
              > Consumer Reports, and read their rankings, but it quickly became
              > clear that they value different attributes than I.

              I had that same experience. However, I have also found that I value
              their rankings more than I did N years ago. I've not been able to
              decide whether they are doing a better job, or whether I'm making
              more conservative decisions in my old age.

              Mini, or RX-8, or 330CiC? I just can't decide.

              About one decent gig would settle it, though ...

              Ron Jeffries
              www.XProgramming.com
              Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future. -- Niels Bohr
            • Gary Feldman
              ... Back when I was doing a lot of mini-QFD work, I often thought that the biggest advantage was that it gave us an objective, time-bounded process for setting
              Message 6 of 11 , Jan 3, 2005
              • 0 Attachment
                Jeff Grigg wrote:
                >
                > --- "Jason Yip" <j.c.yip@c...> wrote:
                > I've considered this behavior irrational, but I think this thread is
                > helping me be more sympathetic. Being something of an "optimizer"
                > myself, I regularly experience stress in making choices.

                Back when I was doing a lot of mini-QFD work, I often thought that the biggest advantage was that it gave us an objective, time-bounded process for setting priorities - and got rid of the stress in the process. It helped get rid of the belief that some people were getting their way purely through strength of personality (though it takes a skilled facilitator at times).

                Whether it came out with the best answer was sort of beside the point. It allowed us to make a decision and move on.

                Gary
              • yahoogroups@jhrothjr.com
                ... From: Gary Feldman To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
                Message 7 of 11 , Jan 3, 2005
                • 0 Attachment
                  ----- Original Message -----
                  From: "Gary Feldman" <g1list_1a.at.marsdome.com@...>
                  To: "extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com"
                  <extremeprogramming.at.yahoogroups.com@...>
                  Sent: Monday, January 03, 2005 7:34 PM
                  Subject: Re: [XP] Tyranny of Flexible Scope? Stress of making Choices.


                  >
                  > Jeff Grigg wrote:
                  >>
                  >> --- "Jason Yip" <j.c.yip@c...> wrote:
                  >> I've considered this behavior irrational, but I think this thread is
                  >> helping me be more sympathetic. Being something of an "optimizer"
                  >> myself, I regularly experience stress in making choices.
                  >
                  > Back when I was doing a lot of mini-QFD work, I often thought that the
                  > biggest advantage was that it gave us an objective, time-bounded process
                  > for setting priorities - and got rid of the stress in the process. It
                  > helped get rid of the belief that some people were getting their way
                  > purely through strength of personality (though it takes a skilled
                  > facilitator at times).
                  >
                  > Whether it came out with the best answer was sort of beside the point. It
                  > allowed us to make a decision and move on.

                  I've found that flipping a coin works wonders.

                  John Roth
                  >
                  > Gary
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > To Post a message, send it to: extremeprogramming@...
                  >
                  > To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
                  > extremeprogramming-unsubscribe@...
                  >
                  > ad-free courtesy of objectmentor.com
                  > Yahoo! Groups Links
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                • Brad Appleton
                  ... I think that depends upon the severity of consequences/risk associated with the choice. XP & Agile methods attempt to: * reduce the time (and hence amount
                  Message 8 of 11 , Jan 4, 2005
                  • 0 Attachment
                    On Sat, Jan 01, 2005 at 11:27:19PM -0000, Jason Yip wrote:
                    > In a nutshell, not having choice leads to disappointment but having
                    > many choices and "choosing wrong" leads to regret. Apparently regret
                    > is a greater detriment to happiness than disappointment.

                    I think that depends upon the severity of consequences/risk
                    associated with the choice. XP & Agile methods attempt to:
                    * reduce the time (and hence amount of (re)work) between
                    making a decision and learning its effects

                    * reduce the amount of risk/work with making a decision
                    by making it in small baby-steps, and doing it first
                    in "safe places" (either socially/organizational safe,
                    or coding/build sandbox) before doing it it risky ones.

                    Having more choices gives me headaches when:
                    * It forces me to wade thru a lot more levels of indirection
                    when I know what I want RIGHT NOW and all the additional
                    questioning/selection is just making it take LONGER to
                    get it (e.g., having to go thru five-levels of touch-tone
                    menus for customer-service :-)

                    * It forces me to have to know a lot more than a do about
                    something I'd rather not have to know more about (granted,
                    that doesn't mean I shouldn't learn it :-).

                    --
                    Brad Appleton <brad@...> www.bradapp.net
                    Software CM Patterns (www.scmpatterns.com)
                    Effective Teamwork, Practical Integration
                    "And miles to go before I sleep." -- Robert Frost
                  • Jeff Grigg
                    ... Let s consider a concrete example: I say, Hey; I d like to switch to Eclipse, for Java development. So I go to http://www.eclipse.org/ and click on the
                    Message 9 of 11 , Jan 4, 2005
                    • 0 Attachment
                      > --- Jason Yip wrote:
                      >> In a nutshell, not having choice leads to disappointment
                      >> but having many choices and "choosing wrong" leads to
                      >> regret. Apparently regret is a greater detriment to
                      >> happiness than disappointment.

                      --- Brad Appleton <brad@b...> wrote:
                      > Having more choices gives me headaches when:
                      > [...]
                      > * It forces me to have to know a lot more than a do about
                      > something I'd rather not have to know more about (granted,
                      > that doesn't mean I shouldn't learn it :-).

                      Let's consider a concrete example:

                      I say, "Hey; I'd like to switch to Eclipse, for Java development."
                      So I go to http://www.eclipse.org/ and click on the "downloads" link.

                      I get a list of about 50 sites to download from. Hmmm... Well,
                      anything overseas is probably a bad idea. I want something "close to
                      me," by network topology, to make most efficient use of resources.
                      But I don't have a good way to judge that. With some knowledge of
                      geography, I can chose something that's not too far away physically,
                      and hope it's also "close" by network route. (It still amazes me
                      that we don't have a good solution to the question of which download
                      sites are "closest" via network topology! ;-)

                      OK, now I have a choice of 36 different files to download. Which one
                      do I want? Well, Eclipse comes in several different configurations,
                      including "nothing," "Java IDE," "Eclipse developer.", and possibly
                      others. And it has several major and minor versions. And it has
                      release, stable and daily builds (at least). It's nice to be able
                      to "roll back" to a previous version, should the new one suffer some
                      regression that really hurts me. But for the most part, there are
                      only two or three versions of the system that 99.99%+ of people would
                      want. I have to figure out their philosophy and encoding system, to
                      be able to find and select the most commonly used options?

                      Bother.
                    • Jeff Grigg
                      ... Oops; 36 directories... each of which has 100 or more files. What I want is one file each from two different directories... 8-O
                      Message 10 of 11 , Jan 4, 2005
                      • 0 Attachment
                        --- "Jeff Grigg" <jeffgrigg@c...> wrote:
                        > OK, now I have a choice of 36 different files to download.

                        Oops; 36 directories... each of which has 100 or more files. What I
                        want is one file each from two different directories... 8-O
                      • George Paci
                        ... One major download service (SourceForge, I think) lets me select a default download site; this is very helpful. It also brings up the point of (a) sensible
                        Message 11 of 11 , Jan 6, 2005
                        • 0 Attachment
                          Jeff Grigg wrote:
                          > Let's consider a concrete example:
                          >
                          > I say, "Hey; I'd like to switch to Eclipse, for Java development."
                          > So I go to http://www.eclipse.org/ and click on the "downloads" link.
                          >
                          > I get a list of about 50 sites to download from.

                          One major download service (SourceForge, I think) lets me select a
                          default download site; this is very helpful.

                          It also brings up the point of (a) sensible defaults, (b) persistent
                          options (once you change X to "foo", it keeps showing up as "foo"),
                          and (c) confirmation of a set of options in their entirety, rather
                          than making you confirm each one individually. The first experience
                          I had with this was in 1984 with the Macintosh. It was very nice,
                          and removed a lot of the anxiety I hadn't even realized was there.

                          > Hmmm... Well,
                          > anything overseas is probably a bad idea. I want something "close to
                          > me," by network topology, to make most efficient use of resources.
                          > But I don't have a good way to judge that. With some knowledge of
                          > geography, I can chose something that's not too far away physically,
                          > and hope it's also "close" by network route. (It still amazes me
                          > that we don't have a good solution to the question of which download
                          > sites are "closest" via network topology! ;-)

                          Actually, tracroute ("tracert" on crippled OSes) will show you the
                          number of hops from your machine to any other one. Granted, this
                          (a) isn't a perfectly stable number and (b) doesn't always show you
                          the fastest server, but it's a start.


                          --George Paci <george@...>

                          People's Front to Reunite Gondwanaland:
                          Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!
                        Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.