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Re: [XP] pairing time, Arlo Belshee's measurements and scientific evidence

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  • jeffgrigg63132
    ... Certainly as an active card-carrying skeptic, I m skeptical of experience reports, and would prefer to make decisions based on the strongest possible
    Message 1 of 68 , Sep 6, 2009
      --- Chris Wheeler <christopher.wheeler@...> wrote:
      > So, I wonder, why is [Belshee] not questioned as deeply and
      > as someone who found the exact opposite?
      >
      > Chris.
      >
      > [Belshee]
      > http://mitchlacey.com/docs/XR4PromiscuousPairingandBeginnersMind.pdf

      Certainly as an active card-carrying skeptic, I'm skeptical of experience reports, and would prefer to make decisions based on the strongest possible double blind scientific studies.

      Now I find that when I take all the information and guidance that's out there, and eliminate any of it that fails to be formal double-blinded scientific studies with realistic project sizes and representative participants typical of this industry's developers, I find that I am left with...

      - >>>---> NOTHING <---<<<

      That is, by setting the bar high enough, I can easily throw out any "evidence" that bothers me. However the problem is, that by setting the bar high, I find that we quickly eliminate all information and guidance, leading to the conclusion that we can't know anything; we may as well act randomly.

      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.

      Arlo didn't claim that 90 minute pairing sessions would be ideal for everyone. In fact, his paper sites his own measurements that at one time 2 hour sessions were more effective for his team. What he says is consistent with my personal experiences, in that short pairing sessions are more difficult with teams having problems with the practices and/or their code base.

      I find that the most useful approach that has given me the greatest success in practice is to consider all the evidence that exists, weak as it is, and to take action on what seems most plausible and promising. What our industry has been in a habit of doing is throwing out experience reports in favor of augments from authority from "respected industry leaders" (or just expensive and impressive looking "consultants" with good sales skills). Or, more often, we do what's easy, or what everyone else seems to be doing.

      Arlo provided much stronger evidence, backed up with measurements over time, than most other sources -- be they "pro" or "anti" -anything. I find this evidence sufficient to justify trying it on my projects to see how well it works for me.
    • 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
        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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