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[XP] Re: pairing

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  • davenicolette
    Chris, Granted, there s more than one way to form beliefs and more than one way for a person to satisfy himself that something might be worth a try. Healthy
    Message 1 of 68 , Sep 3, 2009
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      Granted, there's more than one way to form beliefs and more than one way for a person to satisfy himself that something might be worth a try.

      Healthy skepticism is a good thing, IMO. But all skepticism isn't equally healthy.

      What would it cost you (or me) to try 90 minute pair switches with a team and learn empirically whether and how well it works? Would that result in getting to a reasonable conclusion faster or slower than waiting for academic studies to be published? Would it be a more pragmatic or less pragmatic approach than questioning someone's experimental methods on an abstract level?

      In the interest of transparency, let me admit that was a trick question. Teams I'm working with right now are using 90 minute pairing sessions. They're working out quite well. Team members say they have enough time to stay focused and get a chunk of work done, and breaks come frequently enough to prevent stress. They like it better than the canonical 25 minute pomodoro, better than 45 minute sessions, better than sticking together for half-day periods, and better than sticking together through whole User Stories (all of which they've also tried, so they aren't guessing about whether they like 90 minutes better).

      So, I guess I'm in a position where I'm not as worried about "proof" as you are. Your mileage may vary, as always, but if you won't even try it then you won't get any mileage at all. You won't have any inputs and outputs to measure.

      To me, all this "agile" stuff isn't theory, and it isn't "folk culture." It's a practical way to get things done.

      WRT the relative health of skepticism, I have to consider the source. Given Arlo's background, I'd be willing to give 90 minute pairing sessions a try without worrying about "experimental methods," even if I didn't already know from my own experience that the approach is sound. His track record mitigates my skepticism. And if it didn't happen to work so well in my context, I could just stop doing it. That's what we call "apply, inspect, and adapt." It's one of those "folk culture" things, I guess.

      Yeah, I know: It's not very scientific. Then again, most of the stuff that gets passed off as "scientific" isn't very scientific either, if you ask a real scientist.

      Keep the skepticism flowing, bro. And keep it healthy.


      --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Chris Wheeler <christopher.wheeler@...> wrote:
      > Dave,
      > Proof, or evidence, or data that shows a method produces the results claimed
      > does satisfy. Arlo's results (90 minute pair switches lead to highest
      > productivity) and the paper that he makes that claim in were used in this
      > thread. It was claimed Arlo conducted an experiment. I'm uncertain why you'd
      > react this way to a request to see the paper, the data, and the details of
      > the experiment. I would love to take that data and prove that Arlo is right.
      > His paper leaves me with a number of questions regarding his experimental
      > method and interpretation of his data. That doesn't mean he was wrong, but
      > it is sloppy, and that makes the general result of his work questionable.
      > Perhaps there are different people in the agile world. The folk-culture of
      > agile has never appealed to me; I won't believe something just because there
      > are good stories and anecdotes. The inputs and outputs of agile do appeal to
      > me; I believe that one can gather evidence and data, correlate that data and
      > evidence to results, and show that certain practices are optimal at certain
      > levels (with some practices optimal at level zero).
      > If folk-culture appeals to you and you are willing to believe in results
      > based on stories and anecdotes, then more power to you. Just realize that is
      > not the only way to form beliefs.
      > Chris.
      > On Thu, Sep 3, 2009 at 7:04 AM, davenicolette <dnicolet@...> wrote:
      > > Warning: Bluntness ahead
      > >
      > > Point me to the study that proves...point me to the study that
      > > proves...point me to the study that proves...<yawn>
      > >
      > > There is no answer that will satisfy the person who demands studies as
      > > proof.
      > >
      > > Studies aren't proof. Studies are analyses of observed phenomena. The thing
      > > a study analyzes has already happened before the study is performed.
      > >
      > > Point me to the study that proves...sounds just like the knee-jerk
      > > resistance to agile itself that we used to hear, 8+ years ago. The proof is
      > > in the doing.
      > >
      > > If the described approach worked for Arlo, I want to know how it was done
      > > and what the necessary conditions for success might be, so that I can add it
      > > to my toolkit and use it at the appropriate times and in the appropriate
      > > way.
      > >
      > > If academicians want to publish a study about it someday, I won't stop
      > > them. But I won't wait for them, either.
      > >
      > > I don't base my work on studies. Studies base their results on my work (and
      > > everyone else's work, of course). Point is, results come first, studies come
      > > later.
      > >
      > > Dave
      > >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Adam Sroka
      Hi Chris: I, for one, am more for trying it and seeing what results I get. Analyzing someone else s data is considerably less interesting to me. It is possible
      Message 68 of 68 , Sep 6, 2009
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        Hi Chris:

        I, for one, am more for trying it and seeing what results I get.
        Analyzing someone else's data is considerably less interesting to me.
        It is possible that mine is more representative of the views here, but
        I'm not sure that's true. In any case, I'm fairly sure you're not
        alone, you're just the most vocal representative of that view.

        On the other hand, if you can't get access to Arlo's data in a way
        that would make it possible for you to reliably verify it, you could
        always design your own experiment to prove the part of the problem
        that is interesting to you.

        On Sun, Sep 6, 2009 at 4:36 PM, Chris
        Wheeler<christopher.wheeler@...> wrote:
        > On Sun, Sep 6, 2009 at 10:20 AM, jeffgrigg63132
        > <jeffgrigg@...>wrote:
        >> I think that the problem is that we are dealing with social issues: We're
        >> not trying to determine the trajectory of a missile through space, or the
        >> effect of a drug on (typical) patients. We're really trying to determine
        >> what environmental factors result in the most creative and effective work
        >> products produced by groups of human beings.
        >> I would certainly like there to be more rigorous scientific research. And
        >> I would like it if more people would measure and report what they're
        >> experiencing in real-world projects. But until someone magically makes
        >> those miracles happen, I find that I must continue to make decisions based
        >> only on the best information available at the time -- which, for this
        >> industry, has been mostly experience reports and personal experience.
        > <sigh>
        > I think this will be my last post on this matter - I doubt we are getting
        > further down any road. Here's what I was asking for:
        > 1) a more detailed description of the method that was used
        > 2) access to the data so that I could verify it.
        > Previous posts describe why I wanted this information. I'm not looking for
        > double blind studies or formulation of a theoretical model. I am looking for
        > more information that would lead to the characterization of factors that are
        > significant in the experiment that Arlo conducted.
        > It may be the case that I am the only person in this discussion group that
        > cares about this, and that is fine by me: I'm not going to attempt to
        > convince you that there is more that you could learn from Arlo's experiment.
        > On the other hand, I'm not going to budge from my own position just because
        > many of you eschew such an approach.
        > To each his own, I suppose.
        > Chris.
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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