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[semi ot] Measurement , language and XP

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  • jhrothjr
    We ve just been going through a spate of discussion between a viewpoint that says anything is measureable , and one that says that some things are not
    Message 1 of 6 , Feb 1, 2005
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      We've just been going through a spate of discussion between a
      viewpoint that says "anything is measureable", and one that says that
      some things are not measureable to any useful precision.

      I'd like to offer a useful distinction that Kay reminded me of. That's
      the difference between a noun and a verb, or more precisely, between a
      noun and a nominalization. The term 'nominalization' is linguist-speak
      for a verb that is masquarading as a noun.

      The reason this is important is that the entire concept of measurement
      belongs to the world of nouns - that is, things that exist in physical
      reality. To measure a verb, we have to poke around the edges, find
      some related nouns, and measure them.

      The wheelbarrow test Kay mentioned is something that's discussed in
      NLP (Neurolinguistic programming, not natural language processing) as
      a simple test for whether something is a noun or a verb. It might have
      come from linguistics originally, I don't know.

      You can, for example, put a team room in a sufficiently large
      wheelbarrow. You cannot put a team that is practicing osmotic
      communication in the wheelbarrow: the people will fit, but the
      essential gist of the concept - their manner of communication - will not.

      You can put a workstation set up for pair programming in a
      wheelbarrow. You cannot put pair programming in one - it's a
      process, not an object.

      If I say: "show me your requirements process," and I see a number of
      people sitting in cubicles busily creating large Word dccuments, is
      this XP? Well, probably not. If on the other hand I see a group of
      people in a room, index cards with stuff written on them scattered on
      a table, and talking to each other. Is this XP? Well, maybe. For one
      thing, I don't know that they're disucssing project requirements! For
      another, it could as well be Crystal Clear, Scrum or another process.
      At least it's looking better than the first example!

      XP is not an object. It is a process that is composed of other
      processes. If someone asks: "What is this _thing_ called XP?" the only
      legitimate answer is: "There is no such _thing_ as XP." It is a
      process, not a thing. You can do XP, you cannot have an XP.

      Nominalizations exist because they serve as a useful shorthand for
      when we want to talk about processes, but like any metaphor, you can
      get into real conceptual trouble if you carry them too far.

      We can look at XP as a collection of processes (practices) or we can
      look at it as a set of criteria for selecting processes (the values).
      In the latter sense, we can ask about the feedback loops inherent in
      each process, we can ask about what kind of communication each process
      needs, and how variations in communication style will impact the process.

      I could go on, but this is already long enough, and I feel that I'm
      rambling.

      John Roth
    • Steve Bate
      ... I agree that XP is not an physical object. I d be surprised that anyone would disagree with that statement. However, measurement doesn t only apply to
      Message 2 of 6 , Feb 1, 2005
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        > From: jhrothjr [mailto:yahoogroups@...]
        >...
        > The reason this is important is that the entire concept of measurement
        > belongs to the world of nouns - that is, things that exist in physical
        > reality. To measure a verb, we have to poke around the edges, find
        > some related nouns, and measure them.
        >
        >...
        > XP is not an object. It is a process that is composed of other
        > processes. If someone asks: "What is this _thing_ called XP?" the only
        > legitimate answer is: "There is no such _thing_ as XP." It is a
        > process, not a thing. You can do XP, you cannot have an XP.

        I agree that XP is not an physical object. I'd be surprised that
        anyone would disagree with that statement. However, measurement
        doesn't only apply to physical objects. See also:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Measurement

        I see XP as a set of behavioral guidelines. Why would it not be
        possible to measure the match between a team's behavior and the
        behavioral guidelines? If the guidelines are not defined well
        enough or are somewhat inconsistent or vague, then that would
        cause measurement challenges. At times, I think this is the
        concern that Charles has been raising.

        It seems legitimate to ask what is this "thing" called XP.
        Things are not only physical entities but can also identify
        concepts, ideas, symbols, and on (at least by the common
        definitions).

        Steve
      • Ron Jeffries
        ... Very interesting, John. Your thoughts here definitely seem to go in the same direction as I ve been raving ineffectually about. I m not sure that we can
        Message 3 of 6 , Feb 1, 2005
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          On Tuesday, February 1, 2005, at 11:50:43 AM, jhrothjr wrote:

          > If I say: "show me your requirements process," and I see a number of
          > people sitting in cubicles busily creating large Word dccuments, is
          > this XP? Well, probably not. If on the other hand I see a group of
          > people in a room, index cards with stuff written on them scattered on
          > a table, and talking to each other. Is this XP? Well, maybe. For one
          > thing, I don't know that they're disucssing project requirements! For
          > another, it could as well be Crystal Clear, Scrum or another process.
          > At least it's looking better than the first example!

          > XP is not an object. It is a process that is composed of other
          > processes. If someone asks: "What is this _thing_ called XP?" the only
          > legitimate answer is: "There is no such _thing_ as XP." It is a
          > process, not a thing. You can do XP, you cannot have an XP.

          > Nominalizations exist because they serve as a useful shorthand for
          > when we want to talk about processes, but like any metaphor, you can
          > get into real conceptual trouble if you carry them too far.

          > We can look at XP as a collection of processes (practices) or we can
          > look at it as a set of criteria for selecting processes (the values).
          > In the latter sense, we can ask about the feedback loops inherent in
          > each process, we can ask about what kind of communication each process
          > needs, and how variations in communication style will impact the process.

          Very interesting, John. Your thoughts here definitely seem to go in
          the same direction as I've been raving ineffectually about. I'm not
          sure that we can even answer in a solid way whether a team is
          "doing" XP, but as you point out we can observe things that point in
          a direction.

          I guess I'm just saying that to me, "What might we do next if we
          embrace the thing we understand as XP," is a more useful question
          than "Are we doing XP" ever can be. H, I don't know, maybe it
          doesn't even matter. I felt that it did.

          Ron Jeffries
          www.XProgramming.com
          Questioner: How do I sell my executive team on doing this stuff?
          Jim Highsmith: Don't. Just do it. They don't know what you're doing anyway.
        • yahoogroups@jhrothjr.com
          From: Steve Bate To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
          Message 4 of 6 , Feb 1, 2005
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            From: "Steve Bate" <steve.at.xplanner.org@...>
            To: "extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com"
            <extremeprogramming.at.yahoogroups.com@...>
            Sent: Tuesday, February 01, 2005 11:37 AM
            Subject: RE: [XP] [semi ot] Measurement , language and XP


            >
            >> From: jhrothjr [mailto:yahoogroups@...]
            >>...
            >> The reason this is important is that the entire concept of measurement
            >> belongs to the world of nouns - that is, things that exist in physical
            >> reality. To measure a verb, we have to poke around the edges, find
            >> some related nouns, and measure them.
            >>
            >>...
            >> XP is not an object. It is a process that is composed of other
            >> processes. If someone asks: "What is this _thing_ called XP?" the only
            >> legitimate answer is: "There is no such _thing_ as XP." It is a
            >> process, not a thing. You can do XP, you cannot have an XP.
            >
            > I agree that XP is not an physical object. I'd be surprised that
            > anyone would disagree with that statement. However, measurement
            > doesn't only apply to physical objects. See also:
            >
            > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Measurement
            >
            > I see XP as a set of behavioral guidelines. Why would it not be
            > possible to measure the match between a team's behavior and the
            > behavioral guidelines? If the guidelines are not defined well
            > enough or are somewhat inconsistent or vague, then that would
            > cause measurement challenges. At times, I think this is the
            > concern that Charles has been raising.
            >
            > It seems legitimate to ask what is this "thing" called XP.
            > Things are not only physical entities but can also identify
            > concepts, ideas, symbols, and on (at least by the common
            > definitions).

            Let's take a real simple example. Running is an activity.
            How do you measure it? You can, for example,
            measure speed, but that is simply a map into a physical
            proxy: distance and time, the latter of which also has to
            be mapped into a physical proxy before we can measure
            it: a clock or something similar.

            One mile in four minutes is a physical world measurement;
            we can measure either distance or time to completely
            rediculous precision if we want to extend ourselves.
            How do you measure how close someone is to the
            gait called "running" though? Is it the stride length?
            is it the relative time each foot is on the ground? Is it
            the calories burned per distance? Is it the endorphin
            high that some runners get? The closer you try
            to actually define this activity called "running", the more
            you realize that you can recognize it when you see it,
            but an actual attempt at a clean description leaves more
            questions unanswered than it answers.

            How do I describe the activity of pair programming
            in terms that make sense to someone who _hasn't_
            experianced it? From the amount of heat that question
            stirs up, I think you'll agree that it's not an easy thing
            to do.

            "I'll know it when I see it" isn't an answer that's
            calculated to stir joy in the hard of the hard core
            numerical analyst.

            John Roth

            > Steve
          • yahoogroups@jhrothjr.com
            From: Ron Jeffries To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
            Message 5 of 6 , Feb 1, 2005
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              From: "Ron Jeffries"
              <ronjeffries.at.XProgramming.com@...>
              To: "extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com"
              <extremeprogramming.at.yahoogroups.com@...>
              Sent: Tuesday, February 01, 2005 2:28 PM
              Subject: Re: [XP] [semi ot] Measurement , language and XP


              >
              > On Tuesday, February 1, 2005, at 11:50:43 AM, jhrothjr wrote:
              >
              >> If I say: "show me your requirements process," and I see a number of
              >> people sitting in cubicles busily creating large Word dccuments, is
              >> this XP? Well, probably not. If on the other hand I see a group of
              >> people in a room, index cards with stuff written on them scattered on
              >> a table, and talking to each other. Is this XP? Well, maybe. For one
              >> thing, I don't know that they're disucssing project requirements! For
              >> another, it could as well be Crystal Clear, Scrum or another process.
              >> At least it's looking better than the first example!
              >
              >> XP is not an object. It is a process that is composed of other
              >> processes. If someone asks: "What is this _thing_ called XP?" the only
              >> legitimate answer is: "There is no such _thing_ as XP." It is a
              >> process, not a thing. You can do XP, you cannot have an XP.
              >
              >> Nominalizations exist because they serve as a useful shorthand for
              >> when we want to talk about processes, but like any metaphor, you can
              >> get into real conceptual trouble if you carry them too far.
              >
              >> We can look at XP as a collection of processes (practices) or we can
              >> look at it as a set of criteria for selecting processes (the values).
              >> In the latter sense, we can ask about the feedback loops inherent in
              >> each process, we can ask about what kind of communication each process
              >> needs, and how variations in communication style will impact the process.
              >
              > Very interesting, John. Your thoughts here definitely seem to go in
              > the same direction as I've been raving ineffectually about. I'm not
              > sure that we can even answer in a solid way whether a team is
              > "doing" XP, but as you point out we can observe things that point in
              > a direction.
              >
              > I guess I'm just saying that to me, "What might we do next if we
              > embrace the thing we understand as XP," is a more useful question
              > than "Are we doing XP" ever can be. H, I don't know, maybe it
              > doesn't even matter. I felt that it did.

              I wasn't particularly sure where it was going to go when
              I started it; only that describing XP as a "thing" seemed to
              be fundamentally wrong. I'm beginning to like Alistair's
              approach: define some properties that your approach needs
              to satisfy, and then you can define a set of practices and
              see how well they fullfill the properties.

              I'm not, however, sure how to describe the difference
              between a property and a value or a principle.

              John Roth



              >
              > Ron Jeffries
              > www.XProgramming.com
              > Questioner: How do I sell my executive team on doing this stuff?
              > Jim Highsmith: Don't. Just do it. They don't know what you're doing
              > anyway.
              >
              >
              >
              >
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            • Gary Brown
              If you have time, I recommend going to see Coach Carter. I found it quite inspiring, and a great example of what it takes to build a winning team and to be a
              Message 6 of 6 , Feb 1, 2005
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                If you have time, I recommend going to see Coach Carter. I found it
                quite inspiring, and a great example of what it takes to build a winning
                team and to be a member of a winning team. I wouldn't advise making
                your teams (teammates) run as many suicides or do as many push ups as
                Ken Carter requires, but the point is being better prepared and more
                disciplined than the competition. Learning to trust, respect, and
                depend on each other. Understanding the importance of giving your best
                effort on every play. Going full speed as long as the clock is ticking.

                The movie is not for everyone. There is a lot of offensive language,
                sex, complex social issues, gansters, drug dealers, and dirty dancing.
                If that isn't enough to get you to go, there is one memorable scene
                where Timo Cruz, a gangster, drug dealer, point guard, finally answers
                Coach Carter's question, "what is your greatest fear?". Timo recites
                the Marianne Williamson's poem, "Our Greatest Fear" ...

                Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is
                that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our
                darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be
                brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you
                not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't
                serve the world. There's nothing enlightening about shrinking so
                that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to
                make and manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just
                in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine,
                we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are
                liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates
                others.

                If only we could make it so!!!

                Gary Brown




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