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Re: [XP] Motivation to Complete Stories

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  • yahoogroups@jhrothjr.com
    From: Kent Beck To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
    Message 1 of 161 , Apr 1, 2005
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      From: "Kent Beck" <kentb.at.earthlink.net@...>
      To: "extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com"
      Sent: Friday, April 01, 2005 12:58 AM
      Subject: RE: [XP] Motivation to Complete Stories

      > Ron,
      > Thank you for your measured response. I understand you to say that the
      > reason you carefully couch what you say to other people is so that their
      > response will be productive, that is in line with your needs,
      > expectations,
      > and desires. I don't think this is telling the truth. I think this is
      > nearly
      > the definition of manipulation. Manipulation destroys trust and is
      > ineffective.

      I'm going to have to disagree strongly. There is a basis for this. Some
      years ago, I had a lot of formal training in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic
      Programming). We did a lot of observation in how people reacted
      to different ways of saying what was essentially the same content.

      How you say something is as import, and frequently more important,
      than the content of what you say. Sometimes it gets into the nitty-gritty
      of sensory based content, and phrasing things in a specific order so
      that it paces the person's comprehension strategy. It's very tied to
      the person involved.

      One interesting observation is that effective communicators will
      shift exactly how they phrase something to match the person
      they're talking to, and they usually do it unconciously. And they will
      almost universally claim that they're not doing it, and that doing it
      would be manipulative. Once you've learned how to use the secret
      decoder ring, it's incredibly amusing to watch how this works.

      It's one major reason NLP became rather unpopular. It got the
      goods on a lot of people who were preaching "non-manipulative
      intervention" and showed exactly how they were unconciously
      manipulating their clients. Some of that was on training tapes put
      out by the people making the claims.

      Most organizations have a standard (and usually but not always
      unconcious) method of presenting certain types of information.
      That's also true of individuals, although they're usually more
      flexible, in that they'll accept several presentation formats.

      As far as Ron's example, what I'd say is _usually_ something

      "Joe, we just lost a team member for an unknown length of
      time, and that's going to impact our schedule. We need to
      get together to discuss it and do some replanning."

      The reason I'd say it this way is that, for most people who
      are actually concerned with the project schedule, the reaction
      to the first sentence is going to be along the lines of asking
      what it means for the project schedule. Then the second
      sentence paces that reaction, validates that we're thinking
      along the same lines, and asks for the formal meeting for
      the necessary discussion.

      I wouldn't, however, use this phrasing with someone who
      I knew was going to react to the first sentence by assuming
      a major disaster and immediately go into condolence mode
      without listening to the second sentence.

      I also wouldn't include any information about why the team
      member has gone missing. It's not information he needs to
      know at this point, and it's not germane to the crux of the
      communication: we need to replan due to unforseen circumstances.

      > An example that has come up several times recently is the conversation
      > around points vs. hours for estimates. One repeating argument against
      > hours
      > for estimates goes, "...but if I tell them how many hours we actually
      > program then they'll tell us to work more hours so I'll estimate in points
      > so they won't tell me to work more hours." I think this is untruthful and
      > manipulative. Choosing points for estimates to avoid a difficult
      > discussion
      > is ineffective in the long run, even though it might avoid the appearance
      > of
      > conflict at the moment.

      Um, Kent. Have you quit thinking? The arguement you're using as an
      example is a non-sequitor. There is little to no relationship between
      how one does the estimate and whether management is going to ask
      for debilitating amounts of overtime. That's a characteristic of particular
      manager's or organization's mindsets, and has nothing to do with the
      actual facts of the situation, or the observed fact that it's a
      counterproductive strategy.

      So you're recommending that an individual manipulate a corporation
      into what you think is a more productive environment?

      > I believe you "tell the truth carefully for most productive effect".
      > Saying
      > that "people" do that is over-generalizing. Many others tell the truth
      > carefully just so they can be heard, leaving the other person free to
      > react
      > however they react.

      People are going to react however they are going to react anyway.
      I personally have very sensitive detectors for any mismatch between
      what I'm being told, and what I think is the central issue that needs
      action in the current situation.

      > I think this is a distinction between the two editions, but not the most
      > important distinction. The first edition sets up rules in an attempt to
      > constrain or control the reactions of non-programmers.

      Interesting point. In the entire discussion of that issue to date, at
      least on this list and the newsgroup, I got the exact opposite impression:
      that the important distinction was that the first edition told the
      _programmers_ how to do it, and the second edition didn't. I
      didn't get the impression that how the customer side acted had
      anything to do with the difference.

      > The second edition tries to help programmers speak their
      > truths while respecting others' freedom to respond.

      Organizations always limit the range of acceptable responses
      to a situation. One of the things that therapists discovered
      several decades ago was that individual therapy broke up
      families, while group therapy kept them together. This is true
      of organizations in general: people who act out of the mainstream
      either transform their organization or they wind up being very
      unhappy and either leave or get ejected.

      One of the reasons you're getting a lot of flack is that there's
      a perceived mismatch between what you say you're saying,
      and what we hear you saying. That's my truth in this matter.

      John Roth

      > Kent Beck
      > Three Rivers Institute
      >> -----Original Message-----
      >> From: Ron Jeffries [mailto:ronjeffries@...]
      >> Sent: Thursday, March 31, 2005 5:22 AM
      >> To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
      >> Subject: Re: [XP] Motivation to Complete Stories
      >> I think, therefore, that we are both suggesting telling the truth
      >> without belligerence. I'm also suggesting that people tell the truth
      >> carefully for most productive effect.
      >> What are your views on ways to tell the truth so that it can best be
      >> heard?
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    • Ilja Preuss
      ... Good point, thanks! I suspect that, again, this isn t black or white, but that there is a balance somewhere. Need to muse about it... Regards, Ilja
      Message 161 of 161 , Apr 22, 2005
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        extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com wrote:
        > Ilja,
        > Sometimes it feels nice being around people who know my
        > quirks and are willing to cut me slack around them. But, I
        > learn more and grow around people who expect me to manage
        > myself and my reactions.

        Good point, thanks!

        I suspect that, again, this isn't black or white, but that there is a
        balance somewhere. Need to muse about it...

        Regards, Ilja
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