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[XP] Coach question

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  • C & C Helck
    I ve heard it suggested that having an XP coach on a projct is a good idea especially if its an initial XP project. How does one get a coach, and is it a full
    Message 1 of 6 , Mar 11, 2000
      I've heard it suggested that having an XP coach on a projct is a good idea
      especially if its an initial XP project. How does one get a coach, and is
      it a full time position? Can I get away with a part time coach? Could it be
      done over the phone or email?

      -Christopher Helck
    • Ron Jeffries
      ... There are few, if any, full-time experienced coaches available. We re working to improve that situation, but the issue is that experience in XP seems
      Message 2 of 6 , Mar 12, 2000
        At 10:08 PM 3/11/2000 -0500, you wrote:
        >I've heard it suggested that having an XP coach on a projct is a good idea
        >especially if its an initial XP project. How does one get a coach, and is
        >it a full time position? Can I get away with a part time coach? Could it
        >be done over the phone or email?

        There are few, if any, full-time experienced coaches available. We're
        working to improve that situation, but the issue is that experience in XP
        seems necessary to being able to coach it well. (Sometimes I feel sure that
        in my case, experience isn't sufficient.)

        Kent, Ward, and I make our livings coaching software teams, and we use XP
        principles more or less explicitly in that process. None of us is likely to
        take a full-time gig, unless you are in Paradise, but we can be very
        effective on a part-time basis. Well, *they* can. ;->

        Object Mentor is moving rapidly to be able to coach XP. AFAIK, they don't
        have anyone on line yet. We think the model there will be to supply a coach
        to projects approximately half time. I expect that to work just fine.

        I'm working with several teams right now who do not have a full-time coach.
        One of them has an experienced trainer on the team, who is acting as
        tracker and learning to coach. It's early days on that one.

        Another team has full-time facilitation support. That individual reminds
        the team of their commitment to do XP, and while she doesn't coach XP, she
        helps keep them honest. Those folks were also fortunate to contract a
        full-time XP-experienced young programmer/coach, Ann Anderson. She'll
        probably work me out of a job there.

        Finally, there are many teams all over who are doing XP on their own, from
        what they've learned about it by reading and asking questions, or in some
        cases, from attending talks, seminars, or XP Immersions. Many of these
        folks report that they are doing just great with only the online resources
        as help. Are they doing XP? We don't really know, but if they're being
        successful with what they've taken away, that's what counts. Sometimes I
        even wonder if *I'm* doing XP. And as for Kent ... well, never mind.

        There are lots of paths to improvement. There's surely one that's just
        perfect for you.

        Ron Jeffries
        www.XProgramming.com
      • Randy Ynchausti
        ... Get the book, Leading Change and read it. It is a short book and will only take a few evenings to finish. I think it is written by John Cotter or John
        Message 3 of 6 , Mar 12, 2000
          > I've heard it suggested that having an XP coach on a projct is a good idea

          > especially if its an initial XP project. How does one get a coach, and is
          > it a full time position? Can I get away with a part time
          > coach? Could it be done over the phone or email?
          >

          Get the book, "Leading Change" and read it. It is a short book and will
          only take a few evenings to finish. I think it is written by John Cotter or
          John Kotter... I don't have it at hand right now. The point is that once
          you have found a better process (XP) and you are ready to embark on a
          journey from good (your current process) to BETTER (the XP process); there
          is a significant price to pay. The motto that helps illustrate this point
          is: "We are going on a journey! On this journey we will carry our wounded
          and shoot the stragglers." Leading Change will help prepare you to pay the
          price.

          Why is this important? Because change is difficult on people and developer
          are people too. Therefore it is not enough just to find better processes
          and mandate them. You have to show people why the pain they will go through
          gets them to a BETTER place. Sort of package the process up and sell it in
          a way that shows them that their lives will be better.

          Alistair Coburn is another coaching resource and as always I would be glad
          to help in any way I can. Let me know if you need Alistair's contact
          information. I don't have it at hand either, but would be glad to track it
          down for you.

          Regards,

          Randy

          "It is easy to pair-program when you have as many personalities as I have!"
        • Michael Schneider
          Christopher, Not sure where you are located. The kind (and knowledgeable) folks at Object Mentor have been working with us for several years. They serve as
          Message 4 of 6 , Mar 12, 2000
            Christopher,

            Not sure where you are located.  The kind (and knowledgeable)
            folks at Object Mentor have been working with us for several years.

            They serve as coach and design mentor.  A great combination..
             

            At XP Immersion1 :

            Kent Beck
            Ron Jeffries
            Various object mentor folks
            ....
             

            Good Luck,
            Mike

            C & C Helck wrote:

            I've heard it suggested that having an XP coach on a projct is a good idea
            especially if its an initial XP project. How does one get a  coach, and is
            it a full time position? Can I get away with a part time coach? Could it be
            done over the phone or email?

            -Christopher Helck

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          • Don Wells
            From: C & C Helck ... I have been trying to collect a list of people who have been working XP style already at
            Message 5 of 6 , Mar 12, 2000
              From: C & C Helck <pp002531@...>

              >I've heard it suggested that having an XP coach on a projct is a good idea
              >especially if its an initial XP project. How does one get a coach, and is
              >it a full time position? Can I get away with a part time coach? Could it be
              >done over the phone or email?

              I have been trying to collect a list of people who have been working XP
              style already at http://www.extremeprogramming.org/people.html If you see
              someone in your area send a message. If that person is either not available
              or doesn't have the experience you are looking for he or she may know
              someone in the area who is perfect for your project.

              Certainly if you interview a potential coach who claims to have 15 years
              experience with XP you should pass :-) However, there are many people who
              have 15 years experience helping projects do better and have even tried much
              of what has become XP during those years. These people are a treasure
              because they can see past the admittedly stiff exterior of XP and understand
              the real concepts behind it. Giving them an opportunity as an XP coach
              could work out well for both you and the potential coach.

              But, you should look out for the chief architect as coach problem. The
              skills required to be a chief architect are not the same as the skills of an
              XP coach. Your team is supposed to design the system themselves under the
              guidance of the coach. A coach who insists on designing the system himself
              will ultimately be a bottle neck and thus a liability. A coach needs to be
              people positive. If your coach candidate says his last assignment was
              working with a bunch of idiots you should pass. Your coach also needs to
              have enough humility to realize the project belongs to the team and so does
              all the credit when it succeeds. These people are in short supply indeed!

              You might also look into getting a person who has not coached before but has
              been on an XP project and knows how things are supposed to run. These
              people are also few in number but growing all the time. Then add to the
              project a good manager who need not be experienced with XP but who has
              humility and will listen to the team and trust them. I myself am a real
              proponent of the developer/coach and good manager combination because I have
              been there, done that and found it worked well.

              Now, the question you need to answer is whether or not your team is ready
              for XP? By that I mean does everyone on the team want to try XP? Have they
              taken the time to read and try to understand XP? Are they burnt out from
              being on a death march project? Is this a new project or are we trying to
              save a project? These things can make a big difference in how experienced
              your XP coach needs to be and how much time you will need from your coach.

              But overall now is a good time to try XP. There are several web sites and
              we have Kent's first book now. There are many forums to ask questions plus
              conferences and XP immersion training. It is all very exciting.

              Don Wells
            • Ken Auer
              ... Phone and e-mail are great for troubleshooting... I use it all the time when I m stuck and no one on the team seems to have the right advice. How much time
              Message 6 of 6 , Mar 16, 2000
                > I've heard it suggested that having an XP coach on a projct is a
                > good idea
                > especially if its an initial XP project. How does one get a
                > coach, and is
                > it a full time position? Can I get away with a part time coach?
                > Could it be
                > done over the phone or email?

                Phone and e-mail are great for troubleshooting... I use it all the time when
                I'm stuck and no one on the team seems to have the right advice.

                How much time you need a coach depends on how well the team is working
                together and how well it can keep itself out of the ditch.

                I'm a slightly more than half-time player/coach on one project I'm involved
                in. It works great. I can be a player/coach because most of the team buys
                into XP and isn't that prone to stray. Some people need more coaching than
                others.

                If you are in the greater RTP area of NC, we can provide XP teams and/or
                coaches. Outside, we can get you kick-started but, unlike many of my
                esteemed colleagues, we don't do a lot of traveling.

                If you are doing XP well without a coach, don't get one.

                If you are doing XP fairly well, get a visit from a coach.

                If you are not doing XP well, get a coach and then work to ween yourself
                from an outside coach and develop your own inside coach(es).

                Ken
                -----------------
                Ken Auer <kauer@...>
                The Extreme Programming Software Studio(TM)
                RoleModel Software <http://www.rolemodelsoft.com> (v) 919-557-6352
                5004 Rossmore Dr. (f) 919-552-8166
                Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526 (m) 919-630-5807
                "Christianity is not a plug-in, it's an operating system"
                Mark 12:28-31
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