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Re: [XP] Honoring Personal Development Time - Update

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  • Tim Ottinger
    Just let me amplify that: while I was off having too much fun doing Python and Linux and other goodness, I skipped the whole Java and .NET movements. I emerge
    Message 1 of 89 , Oct 30, 2007
      Just let me amplify that: while I was off having too much fun doing Python and Linux and other goodness, I skipped the whole Java and .NET movements. I emerge on the other side and return to consulting, and I have a lot of catch-up to do. I'm trying to get all the old tech under my belt along with new stuff.

      It's what I tell my kids: If you don't get behind, you don't have to catch up.


      ----- Original Message ----
      From: geoffrey_slinker <geoffrey_slinker@...>
      To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2007 10:05:12 AM
      Subject: Re: [XP] Honoring Personal Development Time - Update

      --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, "Steven Gordon"
      <sgordonphd@...> wrote:
      > Not all investments pay off directly or immediately.
      > The investment in PDT may pay off in greater productivity Monday thru
      > Thursday rather than any direct return on the PDT work. And that
      > productivity increase may take weeks to show up.
      > Or one person's PDT work may lead to a great new product while all
      > other PDT works leads to nothing. It may take months or even years
      > before that pays off, but it could be worth quite a bit more than the
      > investment in PDT time.
      > Or the payoff could be in the recruitment and retention of top
      > developers, which would be really hard to measure.
      > If the company is expecting a quick tangible payoff from PDT, then
      > was a bad idea. It would have been better to have never offered it,
      > because cancelling it will create more negative morale than never
      > having it in the first place.
      > Steve

      I feel that too many decisions are made for short term returns. The
      PDT could be considered a long term investment.

      I also think about YAGNI, Gold Plating, and delivering tested and
      working features.

      I think that that training and staying abreast of things in the
      Computer Science/Information Technology sector is a must. I find that
      programmers and doctors are two professions where they are required to
      study for the rest of their lives if they are going to stay in the

      My friends who are not in computer science have no idea how much study
      is required for me to stay marketable. My friends who are contractors
      learned how to poor concrete, or put down roofing shingles, or put up
      sheet rock/dry wall and their skills and experience at some point
      carries them through for the rest of their career. Not true for me.

      Of course I believe that PDT should be a team decision and not one
      mandated and managed by a Director.

      For instance, if you are on the R&D team for the next big product for
      the company you will probably investigate new technology during early
      in the cycle and your "PDT" is built into the requirements of doing
      the task. Once the technology decisions are made it is a matter of
      incrementally moving forward. This team probably would not see much
      need in a weekly PDT event.

      If you are on a team that is maintaining legacy systems then I imagine
      the team would readily agree that PDT is essential. A loyal employee
      that is willing to work on legacy systems knows that for the sake of
      the company they are risking their own marketability. If there is no
      continuous training and learning then when the legacy maintenance is
      no longer needed the people that maintained the systems will not be
      valuable to their own company and as experience has shown to me these
      people will be laid off. What a reward for taking on the needed task
      of maintenance. This team should have PDT and plenty of it. It is only

      Each team should decide. They are the only ones that know how to
      balance current needs with future needs. The PDT should not be
      mandated, managed, monitored, and measured. The amount and quality of
      work should be monitored and as long as the team is delivering quality
      product in a manner that is timely for the market needs then I would
      say that things are going well.

      I agree with Chris that a company expects ROI. But this expectation
      should go both ways. How often have you heard of the "Executive
      Retreat"? Do the executives measure the ROI of this event? Do they
      report the ROI of this event? I would love to see the cost of the
      Executive Retreat presented in a meeting to all of the employees and
      to watch their faces. What about other Executive perks? One could
      argue that PDT is just a perk. I think that the people at Gary's
      company see it as a perk and feel they are loosing a great benefit.

      Well, I could rant about this a lot. It intrigues me, it makes me mad
      to hear so of it, it concerns me, and it shows me that business as
      usual is the norm.


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    • Kent Beck
      All, It seems to me that the important issue in the original story is intent: were the people who we are discussing trying to learn something or were they
      Message 89 of 89 , Nov 4, 2007

        It seems to me that the important issue in the original story is intent:
        were the people who we are discussing trying to learn something or were they
        knowingly and secretly breaking the social contract to get more work done in
        this iteration. That is something you can only find out by asking them. If
        they were lying, even covertly, that's a far bigger issue than whether they
        learned anything or not or whether they produced useful functionality. And
        the lack of communication up front is also a problem.

        Were I setting up PDT in an XP way, I would emphasize the values of
        communication, feedback, courage, and respect and the principles of
        accountability and responsibility. A compatible format would be to ask
        everyone at lunch on Friday to say what they were going to do and Monday
        morning to ask them what they learned, with emphasis on practical impact on
        the project. If executives are interested, someone would summarize the plans
        and results and send them a copy (or invite them to the meetings).

        If someone wanted an exception to the goals of PDT, Friday lunch would be
        the time to discuss it. If it was my money, I would view PDT as a productive
        form of slack. If the choice was between reneging on a customer commitment
        and learning a little about Ruby, I hope the team would choose to take care
        of the customer (with reflection to figure out why they mis-estimated). If
        the choice was between adding one more story that the customer wasn't really
        expecting and honoring PDT, I hope the team would stick with PDT. If the
        choice was between adding a story the customer really really wants on Monday
        and would consider a personal favor and honoring PDT, then you have an
        interesting discussion.


        Kent Beck
        Three Rivers Institute


        From: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
        [mailto:extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Simon Jones
        Sent: Friday, November 02, 2007 2:15 AM
        To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [XP] Re: Honoring Personal Development Time - Update

        --- In extremeprogramming@ <mailto:extremeprogramming%40yahoogroups.com>
        yahoogroups.com, Ron Jeffries
        <ronjeffries@...> wrote:
        > Hello, Chris. On Tuesday, October 30, 2007, at 9:57:29 PM, you
        > wrote:
        > > Sure, that sounds great. I doubt this is sustainable in a larger
        > > given the demands on director-level people, but your experience
        says it can
        > > be done so I'll trust you. I think Steve Gordon's idea of
        rolling PDT into
        > > compensation and then forgetting about it is a better approach
        because it
        > > takes management control away - my manager can't tell me how to
        spend my
        > > paycheque, and they can't tell me not to blow the afternoon off
        and go see a
        > > movie either. Of course, if it's part of my compensation, and I
        know that I
        > > get all afternoon, or all day, or whatever, to play with cool
        new stuff, I'd
        > > most likely do that most of the time, the same way I would spend
        my pay
        > > responsibly, most of the time.
        > I'm sure that you would be mostly responsible. And I certainly
        > would. But the rest of these guys? I have my doubts. ;->

        Question. Does it matter what they spend the time doing? I can think
        of any number of good movies (although less so these days) that
        might help expand ones thinking and that may even be directly
        applicable to the domain.

        I could also make a good case for doing absolutely nothing! If the
        company pays for me to spend a few hours doing what I like, then I
        choose to relax, drink tea and blow smoke rings. I feel better, I
        ponder subjects that are otherwise drowned out by the 'noise' of
        work and most importantly I relax.

        I suspect the only restriction on PDT should be:
        Don't do work.
        Don't do chores.


        > Ron Jeffries
        > www.XProgramming.com
        > Assume that anything you didn't like was the funny stuff.
        > -- Jim Shore

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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