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Re: [XP] Refined XP Practice - 3 Day Week

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  • Dave Nicolette
    ... first, to ... That s an interesting choice, and I must say it s a bit surprising. You say it s context-specific, and maybe that s where we re missing each
    Message 1 of 67 , Jun 1, 2007
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      --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Brandon Byars
      <brandon.byars@...> wrote:
      >
      > Hi Dave,
      > Thanks for pointing out my discrepancy. My response would be,
      first, to
      > acknowledge that I am being a bit inconsistent (shame on me), and
      > second, to stick by my guns nonetheless. It would be context-specific,
      > of course, but I would be more inclined to stick by someone with
      > exception skill than I would be to stick with XP.

      That's an interesting choice, and I must say it's a bit surprising.
      You say it's context-specific, and maybe that's where we're missing
      each other. I'm thinking of a large IT organization with a portfolio
      of 200 to 300 projects annually. That's the sort of environment I'm
      accustomed to. I don't know if that's the sort of environment you're
      thinking of.

      Experiences differ, of course. My experience has been that one of the
      inherent problems with the old ways of doing things was we depended
      very much on individual "heroes" to get projects done, /in spite of/
      heavyweight formal processes that would, if followed to the letter,
      bog a project down entirely. Many projects made progress mainly
      (only?) because certain individuals took it upon themselves to go
      around the prescribed process to interact directly with various people
      in the organization - literally by walking to their desks and talking
      to them instead of filling out forms to request their services - and
      to go ahead and build working code, one way or another. But that's
      hardly dependable or sustainable for an organization. They're betting
      the business that an individual hero will emerge on every project, and
      then betting again that the same individual will remain available to
      answer questions and help with support.

      It sounds as if you're explicitly and deliberately choosing that
      model, even in the face of more effective alternatives. I have to
      repeat that I might be misunderstanding what you mean, because it
      really is hard to believe anyone would make that choice intentionally
      circa 2007. I'm not trying to be a wise guy; it genuinely surprises
      me, that's all. Can a handful of heroes carry a large IT organization
      year after year, consistently delivering business value?

      Is it XP specifically that you don't like? That's fine - there are
      other effective ways to run projects without reverting to a failed
      model. Have a look at the Crystal methodologies, for instance. XP may
      represent a significant change for an organization, and many people
      have found Crystal to be an easier road to agility in a traditional
      organization. Or devise your own methodology, based on whatever values
      and principles you believe will lead to good results. To depend on
      exceptional individuals to show up, Superman-like, just in the nick of
      time, every time...it's a slim bet.

      Dave


      >
      > I'm not much of a baseball fan, but I grew up in Houston. A couple
      > years back, the Astros signed on Roger Clemens under the agreement that
      > he didn't have to travel with the team when he wasn't pitching. Not a
      > particularly good agreement from a team standpoint, one with potential
      > to cause all the logistical issues I hinted at. The Astros went to the
      > World Series that year for the first time ever, in no small part thanks
      > to Clemens' 1.8 ERA.
      > -Brandon Byars
      > > Brandon,
      > >
      > > You make very good points, but unless I've misunderstood you there's a
      > > discrepancy in your comments. You start by assuming an XP'ish
      > > environment, yet you would allow for an individual worker with
      > > exceptional skills to work outside the parameters of XP. On an XP
      > > team, an individual who works independently tends to disrupt the team
      > > dynamic and reduce overall effectiveness. How do you see this
      > > individual being used to the benefit of the enterprise in an "XP'ish
      > > environment?"
      > >
      > > Dave
      > >
      > > --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Brandon Byars
      > > <brandon.byars@> wrote:
      > >
      > >> Hi Simon,
      > >> Since this is an XP list, I'm going to assume an XP'ish
      environment for
      > >> the questions below. As I see it, there are the following
      > >>
      > > possibilities
      > >
      > >> (they could obviously all have their roles reversed)
      > >>
      > >> * You work 3 days a week; your teammates work 5
      > >> * You work 3 days a week; your teammates make up for it by working
      > >>
      > > more
      > >
      > >> than 40 hours
      > >> * You and your teammates work 3 days a week
      > >>
      > >> Since we live in a (mostly) free market world, your proposition
      > >>
      > > needs to
      > >
      > >> be examined from the standpoint of a business owner investing in
      your
      > >> salary. Ignoring the person who pays your salary seems a bit
      > >>
      > > idealistic.
      > >
      > >> In the first two cases, I see little reason to hire you barring
      > >> exceptional skill. Allowing you to work less than everybody else
      would
      > >> seem to open the door to all sorts of logistical issues that
      would (or
      > >> so it seems to me) lower that global optimum you spoke of in the
      lean
      > >> manufacturing analogy. From a technical side, pairing, meeting, and
      > >> (perhaps most importantly), serendipitous communication suffer,
      > >> especially if we allow /everybody/ to make their own schedule.
      From a
      > >> logistical standpoint, I would have to try to come up with some fair
      > >>
      > > way
      > >
      > >> of paying salaries. Making yours more than 60% of the mean of
      > >>
      > > everybody
      > >
      > >> else's (again barring exceptional skill) opens me up to all sorts of
      > >> political questions because most people are going to call the "value
      > >>
      > > vs.
      > >
      > >> time" thing "favoritism." Right or wrong, it would distract me
      from my
      > >> job. I see no benefits, as a hypothetical employer, and a number of
      > >> downsides to hiring you.
      > >>
      > >> The third option is the only one that I may consider. It would take
      > >> considerable persuasion though. I heard Kelly bring up
      Friedman's 'The
      > >> World is Flat', and I think that to be a valid discussion point for
      > >>
      > > this
      > >
      > >> conversation. If we aren't doing the work, somebody else will. The
      > >> First World can no longer rest on its laurels. While I have no
      desire
      > >> to keep the Third World down, I do feel some obligation to
      continuing
      > >> the standard of life I currently enjoy, and that requires me
      (again, a
      > >> hypothetical employer) to do whatever I feel necessary to maintain
      > >> whatever advantage I can. My "work ethic" then translates very
      simply
      > >> into something I think we all can agree upon. I want to maintain or
      > >> improve my standard of life, and that of my family. I do not want
      > >>
      > > it to
      > >
      > >> decrease.
      > >>
      > >> The only way I would consider reducing the work week for
      developers (or
      > >> anyone) is if I felt quite comfortable that I'm not losing
      anything by
      > >> doing so. Currently, I can say with absolute certainty that I do
      not
      > >> have that comfort level. Kelly mentioned that the 40 hour week
      is, if
      > >> anything, low for him. 40 hours is about right for me. When I work
      > >>
      > > too
      > >
      > >> much less, I generally do not end the week with the same sense of
      > >> accomplishment. Given the choice between people willing to work
      those
      > >> 40 hours (and there's an awful lot of them) and somebody who
      wants the
      > >> option of working only 20 hours a week, I don't think it'd be a hard
      > >> decision for me.
      > >>
      > >> Again, barring exceptional skill. That changes everything.
      > >> -Brandon Byars
      > >>
      > >>> There's a philosophical view point on the nature 'work' that I very
      > >>> much believe in. Its not a new viewpoint and probably my favourite
      > >>> description of it is
      > >>> here:
      > >>>
      > >>> http://www.zpub.com/notes/idle.html
      > >>>
      > >>> Anyway, I won't bother repeating what Russell had to say about it,
      > >>> but I think it relates directly to one of the primary practices in
      > >>> XP and I would like to suggest that a change to this practice into
      > >>> something more concrete is a worth exploring.
      > >>>
      > >>> Russell's idea was that there were economic and social benefits to
      > >>> people working less. In fact he suggests that four hours per day is
      > >>> sufficient. Or in other terms a three day working week.
      > >>>
      > >>> The XP practice of Energized Work (or what used to be called the 40
      > >>> hour week) seems to suggest something similar. However what puzzles
      > >>> me is that in all the other XP practices the dials are 'turned
      up to
      > >>> ten' except for this one where its seems they're only set at about
      > >>> 5. So, I'd like to suggest that the practice be a 20 hour (4
      hours a
      > >>> day or three day working week). Again I won't repeat the arguments
      > >>> made in the article above but I think there are some direct
      benefits
      > >>> to XP from this approach.
      > >>>
      > >>> Firstly lets examine the so called 40 hour week (in my case). I
      > >>> should point out that whilst the XP book seems to suggest 40 hours
      > >>> is an 'energized' amount this is already higher than the norm in
      > >>> Europe (perhaps not England), where 35 hours is now being
      considered
      > >>> as the maximum working week.
      > >>>
      > >>> 40 Hours per week means for a five day week, 8 hours a day. But...
      > >>>
      > >>> A typical commute is one hour in either direction.. now a ten hour
      > >>> day.
      > >>>
      > >>> My job is usually a little bit stressful. I try to not let it get
      > >>> that way, but in some ways its in the nature of the beast. This
      > >>> means I spend a good portion of my time thinking/worrying about it
      > >>> outside of work. This is time that my employer is getting for free.
      > >>> I'm going to add another hour to the day for it. An 11 hour day.
      > >>>
      > >>> If I need to arrive at work at around 9 I therefore need to
      leave my
      > >>> home at about 8, which means I therefore need to wake up at
      about 7.
      > >>> I am notoriously bad with mornings. My natural cycle would have me
      > >>> waking up at something more like 10. Its just the way I am. (In
      fact
      > >>> its also interesting to note that the early morning start was
      > >>> largely the responsibility of 19th century industrialists as a way
      > >>> to curb the recently migrated agricultural workers' tendency to get
      > >>> drunk and not turn up to work on time.)
      > >>>
      > >>> There is no doubt that early starts affect both my mood and thus my
      > >>> motivation and ability to work. I will therefore nominally claim
      > >>> another wasted hour over the day for interrupting my natural cycle.
      > >>>
      > >>> I like chocolate cake, but if I eat it everyday I soon get sick of
      > >>> it. Work is the same. Eight hours doing the same thing everyday
      > >>> makes it tedious no matter how interesting the actual project might
      > >>> be. Ok maybe I'm unusual but I have a boredom threshold. I suspect
      > >>> however this is true of a great many other people given how much
      > >>> time people seem to spend 'surfing the web' or 'discussing work'
      > >>> or 'having a smoke'. I think we all acknowledge that there is a
      good
      > >>> deal of 'down time' in any given day. I'm going to attribute
      > >>> another hour to this. Not to mention that just being bored in
      itself
      > >>> dulls the wits!
      > >>>
      > >>> I normally, arrive at home in the evening at about 7pm. In order
      for
      > >>> me to stand any chance of getting up in the morning I need to
      get to
      > >>> bed by 11pm (I just *have* to have 8 hours sleep). I now have
      > >>> precisely four hours to myself. Because I'm at work all day I have
      > >>> no time for chores, or shopping, or cooking etc. Therefore I
      > >>> estimate I lose 1-2 hours doing such things in an evening.
      > >>>
      > >>> I sleep for 8 hours, and I have a couple of hours to myself at
      most.
      > >>> Therefore my 'working' day is actually more like 14 hours.
      > >>>
      > >>> Ok the math is dodgy and the example is a gross one, but the
      > >>> principle remains that the 8 hr day is nothing of the sort. Its
      > >>> slavery by any other name :) The average medieval peasant had it
      > >>> much easier, contrary to popular belief.
      > >>>
      > >>> So, the solution is obvious.. work less.. the 3 day week. The
      > >>> benefits would be:
      > >>>
      > >>> - I have more time to myself, which is more time to think and more
      > >>> time to rest and refresh.
      > >>> - I do less work therefore it becomes less tedious, I am therefore
      > >>> more productive.
      > >>> - I have time for other things in my life which makes a richer
      > >>> person and helps me acquire broader knowledge.
      > >>> - If I only do three days a week then there is room to employ
      > >>> another person thus creating more jobs!
      > >>> - If I go off sick, there's a lower probability that it will affect
      > >>> the project.
      > >>> - If I have more time then I have more time to improve my skills,
      > >>> which brings benefit to the team and to me.
      > >>> - If I work less I can be more flexible. Now, if there are genuine
      > >>> project delays the project manager has a whole bunch of man days he
      > >>> can call on without over working anyone.
      > >>> - If I do feel the sudden urge to do more work that option is
      > >>> available to me.. the key thing here is that it is an option.
      > >>> - If I'm less tired, more relaxed and have more time for personal
      > >>> improvement then I wonder how many less bugs, less mistakes and
      thus
      > >>> less cost this equates to?
      > >>> - With more people required to cover the days in a project the
      teams
      > >>> benefits from a wider range of experience and perspective whilst at
      > >>> the same time, at any one time, gets no larger.
      > >>> - An XP team comprised of people in this happy situation is
      going to
      > >>> be more productive. I'm certain of it, but of course its difficult
      > >>> to prove unless there happens to be a particularly enlightened
      > >>> employer out there.
      > >>>
      > >>> This is not an exhaustive list.. but apart from all that there's
      > >>> something 'fair' about it.
      > >>>
      > >>> Naturally I might get paid less, but what is more valuable than
      time?
      > >>>
      > >>> Naturally employers might dislike this, but who's getting rich? Me
      > >>> or them?
      > >>>
      > >>> This might all sound a bit unpalatable to the average IT company,
      > >>> but then again so do many of the practices and principles of XP. If
      > >>> XP were to make a clear statement about the 20 hour week.. well,
      you
      > >>> never know... we might just get it!
      > >>>
      > >>> Some, my suggestion is, turn up the dials on this one a push for a
      > >>> three day week.
      > >>>
      > >>> Simon
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      >
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
    • Tim Ottinger
      And a wise manager should never seat more egos than can fit in a room. ... From: Kelly Anderson To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
      Message 67 of 67 , Jun 5, 2007
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        And a wise manager should never seat more egos than can fit in a room.


        ----- Original Message ----
        From: Kelly Anderson <kellycoinguy@...>
        To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Tuesday, June 5, 2007 1:11:45 PM
        Subject: Re: [XP] Refined XP Practice - 3 Day Week

        On 6/3/07, Brandon Byars <brandon.byars@...> wrote:
        > Hi Dave,
        > Yes, after considering your arguments I have to agree with you. When
        > the diseconomy of scale takes over, team dynamics become more important
        > than individual productivity. I do think, though, that exceptional
        > programmers can prolong the period of time before that happens.

        I'll grant you this Brandon, if in your definition of exceptional
        programmers, you include that they are exceptional communicators as
        well as exceptional coders.

        The scale thing definitely enters into this conversation. No doubt!!!
        There is more room for a prima donna when he's the only one in the
        room... :-)

        -Kelly


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