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Re: [XP] Tyranny of Flexible Scope? Stress of making Choices.

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  • 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 1 of 11 , Jan 3, 2005
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      --- "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 2 of 11 , Jan 3, 2005
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        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 3 of 11 , Jan 3, 2005
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          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 4 of 11 , Jan 3, 2005
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            ----- 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
            >
            >
            >
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          • 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 5 of 11 , Jan 4, 2005
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              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 6 of 11 , Jan 4, 2005
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                > --- 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 7 of 11 , Jan 4, 2005
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                  --- "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 8 of 11 , Jan 6, 2005
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                    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!
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