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RE: [XP] prioritizing stories

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  • Ivan Tomek
    Thanks to all who answered my original question. I must reiterate that I was talking in an academice course context with very little time available, a
    Message 1 of 22 , Nov 1, 2001
      Thanks to all who answered my original question. I must reiterate that I was
      talking in an academice course context with very little time available, a
      non-trivial project, and a concern that we might never get beyond story
      estimation if we estimated all stories.

      However, I still don't see anything wrong with the customer saying 'here are
      my 300 stories and I would like to implement them all, but these 50 are so
      low on my priority list that you should not be spending any time estimating
      them now'. I even feel that it agrees with the general spirit of XP, the
      principles of 'you are not going to need it' or even 'do the simplest thing
      first' although I realize that that is not their true application.

      Ivan


      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: Ron Jeffries [mailto:ronjeffries@...]
      > Sent: Thursday, November 01, 2001 11:23 AM
      > To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: Re: [XP] prioritizing stories
      >
      >
      > Around Thursday, November 01, 2001, 10:04:27 AM, Bryan Dollery wrote:
      >
      > > Ron Jeffries wrote
      > >> Many organizations want a product shipped by some date.
      > They want to
      > >> know what will be in it. A release plan lets you say with
      > pretty good
      > >> accuracy what you are sure will be in, what might be in,
      > and what will
      > >> almost certainly not be in.
      >
      > > I can see that a release plan would need to have in it a
      > fairly accurate
      > > list of what will be released when. I can also see why this would be
      > > desirable. I just don't see how one would/could create it. Can you
      > > elicidate?
      >
      > Do the XP release plan process. For full details see "Installed" or
      > "Planning". Briefly, sit down with the customer and "all" the stories,
      > estimate them, lay them out in iterations.
      >
      > >> In a product company this is especially important, as folks have to
      > >> line up advertising, tell customers what is coming, and so on.
      >
      > > Yeah, I get it. How do I get the information, and make it
      > accurate though.
      > > If I say feature X will be in, but our velocity is lower
      > than I suspected
      > > then X may not be in.
      >
      > That's why you break it into "will be there", "might be there", "won't
      > be there". And as you learn more, do the plan again and republish.
      > Good PR, addresses that honesty thing that derives from the Simplicity
      > value.
      >
      > > If I say feature Y will be in, and then, through
      > > discovery through out the project, the customer discovers
      > that Y isn't so
      > > important, or that it's actually feature Z that they
      > wanted, then Y won't be
      > > there.
      >
      > When the customer adds stories to the plan, she must either add time
      > (not recommended) or remove stories to restore the total. Either way,
      > she knows what she did. And republish the plan if anyone else needs to
      > know.
      >
      > But tell us how it's working for you, especially regarding people who
      > want to know what you're going to deliver by when?
      >
      > Ron Jeffries
      > www.XProgramming.com
      > Discontinue reading if rash, irritation, redness, or swelling
      > develops.
      > Especially irritation.
      >
      >
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      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Bryan Dollery
      Ron Jeffries wrote ... Okay, I ve just re-read chapter-8 of Installed (BTW: I love the small chapters). I remember thinking when I first read it that this was
      Message 2 of 22 , Nov 1, 2001
        Ron Jeffries wrote
        > > Ron Jeffries wrote
        > >> Many organizations want a product shipped by some date. They want to
        > >> know what will be in it. A release plan lets you say with pretty good
        > >> accuracy what you are sure will be in, what might be in, and what will
        > >> almost certainly not be in.
        >
        > > I can see that a release plan would need to have in it a fairly accurate
        > > list of what will be released when. I can also see why this would be
        > > desirable. I just don't see how one would/could create it. Can you
        > > elucidate?
        >
        > Do the XP release plan process. For full details see "Installed" or
        > "Planning". Briefly, sit down with the customer and "all" the stories,
        > estimate them, lay them out in iterations.

        Okay, I've just re-read chapter-8 of Installed (BTW: I love the small
        chapters). I remember thinking when I first read it that this was odd. Now
        I know why (although I could easily be wrong), but more about that later.

        > >> In a product company this is especially important, as folks have to
        > >> line up advertising, tell customers what is coming, and so on.
        >
        > > Yeah, I get it. How do I get the information, and make it
        > accurate though.
        > > If I say feature X will be in, but our velocity is lower than I
        > suspected
        > > then X may not be in.
        >
        > That's why you break it into "will be there", "might be there", "won't
        > be there". And as you learn more, do the plan again and republish.
        > Good PR, addresses that honesty thing that derives from the Simplicity
        > value.

        I've always used best, worst, and likely case scenarios. I see them as being
        analogous.

        > > If I say feature Y will be in, and then, through
        > > discovery through out the project, the customer discovers that
        > Y isn't so
        > > important, or that it's actually feature Z that they wanted,
        > then Y won't be
        > > there.
        >
        > When the customer adds stories to the plan, she must either add time
        > (not recommended) or remove stories to restore the total. Either way,
        > she knows what she did. And republish the plan if anyone else needs to
        > know.

        So, we expect (and of course, embrace) change. Most of XP is predicated on
        doing the minimum amount of work that will _need_ reworking. So, we're
        deliberately doing work here that needs to be reworked. We're providing the
        customer with an accurate estimate, based upon the information we have
        available to us at the time.

        I hate it.

        I see the necessity, business planning, investment planning, setting
        expectations, etc. But I really don't like it. We're saying

        "to the best of our knowledge you'll get X on date Y",

        and at the same time saying,

        "but if things change we reserve the right to revise this"

        When we've already said that things _will_ change, and to plan otherwise is
        dumb.

        So, unless I've missed something, we've done something here that isn't
        entirely honest. Not a lie, because at the time the estimate is as accurate
        as available data will allow, but still a dishonesty because we _know_ that
        the estimate is wrong, perhaps only in a small way, but perhaps
        substantially, and we have no way of knowing which.

        Is this right?

        > But tell us how it's working for you, especially regarding people who
        > want to know what you're going to deliver by when?

        Oh, my clients want the information. The want a release plan. I create
        estimates based upon my experience of similar systems, as many metrics as I
        can gather, and my perceptions of their organisational adaptability. I then
        add the caveat that, based upon historical industry trends, I am probably
        wrong. I usually quote the Capers Jones figures that I've been posting here
        recently.

        So, I tell them what they want to hear, and then I give the probabilities
        that I'm wrong. I follow this with a worse, best, and likely case analysis
        of the estimates.

        I see that this isn't too different to what XP does, but then, I don't like
        what I do either. I'm just fishing for a better answer.

        Bryan
      • Ron Jeffries
        ... I just tell em that this isn t what will happen, but it is a lot like what will happen, and that we ll keep em informed. Tell what you know, and tell
        Message 3 of 22 , Nov 1, 2001
          Around Thursday, November 01, 2001, 11:12:10 AM, Bryan Dollery wrote:

          > So, unless I've missed something, we've done something here that isn't
          > entirely honest. Not a lie, because at the time the estimate is as accurate
          > as available data will allow, but still a dishonesty because we _know_ that
          > the estimate is wrong, perhaps only in a small way, but perhaps
          > substantially, and we have no way of knowing which.

          I just tell 'em that this isn't what will happen, but it is a lot like
          what will happen, and that we'll keep 'em informed.

          Tell what you know, and tell what you don't. That's the best I know to
          do.

          Ron Jeffries
          www.XProgramming.com
          You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
          --Inigo Montoya
        • Bryan Dollery
          Ron Jeffries wrote ... I like this. It seems more honest. Do you really tell your clients that, or do you believe that they understand that it is a necessary
          Message 4 of 22 , Nov 1, 2001
            Ron Jeffries wrote
            > Around Thursday, November 01, 2001, 11:12:10 AM, Bryan Dollery wrote:
            >
            > > So, unless I've missed something, we've done something here that isn't
            > > entirely honest. Not a lie, because at the time the estimate is
            > as accurate
            > > as available data will allow, but still a dishonesty because we
            > _know_ that
            > > the estimate is wrong, perhaps only in a small way, but perhaps
            > > substantially, and we have no way of knowing which.
            >
            > I just tell 'em that this isn't what will happen, but it is a lot like
            > what will happen, and that we'll keep 'em informed.

            I like this. It seems more honest. Do you really tell your clients that, or
            do you believe that they understand that it is a necessary consequence of
            their request?

            > Tell what you know, and tell what you don't. That's the best I know to
            > do.

            I think that we can agree on that.

            Bryan
          • Ron Jeffries
            ... I tell them that. Stole the idea from Beck: He told the CIO of Chrysler exactly that. This isn t what is going to happen. Ron Jeffries
            Message 5 of 22 , Nov 1, 2001
              Around Thursday, November 01, 2001, 11:51:06 AM, Bryan Dollery wrote:

              > I like this. It seems more honest. Do you really tell your clients that, or
              > do you believe that they understand that it is a necessary consequence of
              > their request?

              I tell them that. Stole the idea from Beck: He told the CIO of
              Chrysler exactly that. "This isn't what is going to happen."

              Ron Jeffries
              www.XProgramming.com
              The Great and Powerful Oz has spoken.
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