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Re: [XP] Re: Weaknesses of XP

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  • Dossy
    ... Your experiences obviously differ from mine -- how quaint! We typically operate in two week iterations. There s a certain rhythm that s established over
    Message 1 of 144 , Jan 1, 2002
      On 2002.01.01, wecaputo@... <wecaputo@...> wrote:
      > Dossy:
      > >On 2002.01.01, Ron Jeffries <ronjeffries@...> wrote:
      > >> Huh? I was talking about running a one-week iteration including
      > >> iteration planning. Why would that be evil?
      > >Implicitly, you're also (potentially) asking people to change
      > >the way they write stories, estimate them, break them down
      > >into tasks (if they do that) and work on them.
      > >Maybe it's not evil, but it's probably disruptive.
      > Have you ever done it? I have, several times. It is not disruptive in the
      > negative sense you are implying. Often it speeds things up, shortens the
      > length of planning meetings, improves estimates, etc. So, I am not sure
      > what your reservations are other than lack of experience.
      > Iterations are a complete unit of work for an XP team. If I know going in
      > that the iteration is now two weeks long, and last time I was doing 1 week
      > iterations, I would simply double the number of stories introduced, and let
      > Yesterday's Weather kick in.

      Your experiences obviously differ from mine -- how quaint!

      We typically operate in two week iterations. There's a certain
      rhythm that's established over the course of the past 12 months ...
      doing a Planning Game every other Monday of the month, preparing
      a build for release every other Friday, running things through
      QA who require their own amount of time to run the tests to
      make sure everything still passes, document their work, and
      approve the release, etc.

      Recently, due to external business pressure, our Customer has
      asked if we could "shrink the iteration down to 1 week." Using
      our team velocity, we adjusted the number of story points we'd
      agree to by cutting the old number in half. We went through a
      Planning Game, and started the first 1-week iteration.

      Well, things went well on a technical level, but at a
      people's-perception level, things fell apart. Of the 3 stories
      that got scheduled, only 2 got completed -- the customer saw
      this as 1/3rd loss of productivity. It took a while to
      discuss that "all you see in the Planning Game are estimates
      that we promise we'll try to meet but make no guarantees" ...
      since we'd been doing two-week iterations for so long and
      that Yesterday's Weather had stabilized us, we'd been able
      to fairly reliably meet our estimates.

      Also, because of the shortened iteration, we had to get
      QA testing done sooner, which wasn't really reflected in
      cutting the velocity in half -- which probably resulted
      in the third story's imcompleteness.

      Also, stories that can be done in parallel vs. ones that
      must be completed sequentially skew your velocity a lot
      more the shorter the iteration is. If you only commit
      to, say, 4 story points in an iteration and that translates
      out to four 1-point stories, but two of those stories must
      be done sequentially, and the two independent 1-point stories
      are being worked on by two other pairs, then you might end
      up with a pair that's forced to sit idle. With a larger
      iteration where you have more stories to "work with" in
      the current iteration, the likelihood of this happening
      is lessened.

      All of this is purely anecdotal, I have no hard measurements
      or documentation and we've been doing this for 4 iterations
      now. Things are starting to look better, but the perception
      that "we're getting less stories completed per unit time
      (iteration)" is starting to affect the whole team negatively.

      As soon as I go into work on Wednesday, I'm going to ask
      the Customer to let us go back to two week iterations.
      It works better for us.

      -- Dossy

      Dossy Shiobara mail: dossy@...
      Panoptic Computer Network web: http://www.panoptic.com/
      "He realized the fastest way to change is to laugh at your own
      folly -- then you can let go and quickly move on." (p. 70)
    • Bryan Dollery
      Hiya, I ran a project a couple of years ago. Whilst interviewing contractors we ensured that we mentioned that this project was on a tight schedule, and that
      Message 144 of 144 , Jan 4, 2002

        I ran a project a couple of years ago. Whilst interviewing contractors we
        ensured that we mentioned that this project was on a tight schedule, and
        that it may be necessary, towards the end, to do some overtime. These were
        contractors, and they'd get paid for the hours they work, and as we were
        being so reasonable (admitting it up front) we thought that they'd not have
        a problem with it.

        Just about everyone we hired, and we only hired the best, said that they had
        real problems with this, but we hired them anyway, because they were so
        good. Ultimately, OT wasn't necessary, because we finished the project
        on-time, and on budget, using agile techniques (it wasn't XP, but it was
        good in that situation).

        Everyone stayed focused, and worked hard, partially because they didn't want
        to do overtime.

        I think that the problem here was cultural. I have recently come to
        understand that highly-paid kiwis (New Zealanders) want to have time to
        enjoy their lives, not piss around in work. I have a friend, who is a senior
        doctor at a local emergency department, who tells me that at the end of a
        shift the kiwi doctors just leave, even if they're in the middle of a case
        (he doesn't, he's not a kiwi).

        I come from England, and worked for a long while in London, which is a big
        commercial city like New York, Chicago, or Hong Kong. There you work until
        you drop, then you go and rest so that you can work some more the next day.
        For five years I only took Christmas week off, no other holidays, at all.

        Naturally, I emigrated to New Zealand, and now I've had the last three
        months off (although that isn't out of choice).


        > -----Original Message-----
        > From: Mike Clark [mailto:mike@...]
        > Sent: 04 January 2002 13:12
        > To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
        > Subject: Re: [XP] Re: Weaknesses of XP
        > attkeithray wrote:
        > > --- In extremeprogramming@y..., Mike Clark <mike@c...> wrote:
        > > > I've never heard of a company requiring that new hires sign a
        > > contract to work more
        > > > than 40 hours per week. You seem to imply that they exist, and
        > > in fact they are the
        > > > norm in your region.
        > >
        > > This "expectation" is the norm for many companies in Silicon
        > > Valley. .. even one doing XP told me they expect 50-hour weeks.
        > > Employement contracts don't talk about hours, but in the job
        > > interview (in many companies), if you don't agree with the
        > > interviewer's attitude that 50- or 60-hour weeks are "expected",
        > > you don't get hired.
        > >
        > Interesting. Thanks for enlightening me with this report.
        > This interview topic is fundamentally different than having
        > employees sign a contract
        > to work 50-hour weeks. I obviously read too much into the OP's statement:
        > "Management hires people who promise to follow this strategy
        > - a contract is
        > established".
        > Nevertheless, I've yet to interview with a company that had the
        > expectation for
        > overtime on a recurring basis. Then again, when necessary I've
        > worked some level of
        > overtime on every project I've been on. In retrospect, I can't
        > recall a situation
        > where it was expected from anyone other than myself. It was
        > usually a result of my own
        > optimistic estimates or failures to communicate effectively.
        > Mike
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