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RE: [XP] Re: Agile Rentschian Thinking

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  • Mike Beedle
    ... Imo, it goes both ways. It is a self-constant solution in the mathematical meaning, an a Gestalt like solution in the cognitive sense: Practices
    Message 1 of 48 , Jul 11, 2002
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      Laurent Bossavit wrote:
      > I'm also reminded of Kent's admonition to CS researches to find
      > ways to measure XP that aren't myopically focused on the
      > practices. That, or so it seems to me, amounts to saying that *our*
      > observations of software development tend to be just as theory-
      > laden.

      Imo, it goes both ways. It is a self-constant solution in the
      mathematical meaning, an a Gestalt like solution in the cognitive sense:

      Practices (patterns) generate values, values generate practices
      (patterns) etc.

      Except there are other dynamical relationships:

      Practices generate dynamic processes and organizations, dynamic
      processes and organizations reinforce practices, etc.

      Laurent Bossavit wrote:
      > To me, this suggests that the competing conceptions of software
      > development out there fit at least one of Kuhn's characteristic
      > features of "paradigms" : they appear to be incommensurable
      > among themselves.

      You've got it. These are the so-called "anomalies". When a
      paradigm repeatedly fails to explain anomalies, a "crisis"
      ensues and alternative theories must be developed. Agile Software
      Development presents such an alternative and attempts to
      explain these or other anomalies. In time, this alternative
      can replace the old paradigm by completing a "scientific
      revolution" in the field of software development.

      But again, Kuhn warns that it the new paradigm needs to be
      perceived as "better" by the majority of people with power and

      (We talked about this before, remember?)

      Laurent Bossavit wrote:
      > I'm still wary of applying Kuhn's theory to software development
      > philosophies, though; as Kuhn himself noted, his was a theory of
      > scientific theories, and not meant to apply to other areas of
      > knowledge.

      Granted. But do we have a better model to understand what's going on?

      Laurent Bossavit wrote:
      > I'm also wary of the word "revolution", which itself carries a lot of
      > baggage. All of Mike's postings on the topic clearly imply that Agile
      > thinking will eventually carry the day because it is "better"; that, if
      > you will, the collapse of traditional development philosophy under
      > the weight of its own contradictions is as historically inevitable as
      > was the collapse of capitalism, and its dialectical resolution in a
      > dictatorship of the proletariat. We've seen how that last actually
      > played out.

      I agree. I use the word revolution because it comes from the Kuhnian
      line of thinking. However, I do like that word. We need a revolution.
      There _is_ a software crisis. Far too many projects fail and go out
      of control, far too much money is spent in failures, and being
      a developer in most cases feels like being on a frying pan.

      This is my invitation:

      let's change the world, let's make it an "agile" world!

      Undoubtedly, even if successful, agile will not the last revolution
      in software development, but I think it definitely offers many valuable
      things above and beyond Defined-Process methods.

      I think the ultimate driver for the success of the revolution
      will be ROI (return on investment):

      If companies and projects find Agile Software Development
      useful and valuable by generating lower cost, high value,
      on-time software with adjustments in scope --
      which is what Agile for the most part means,

      I think this will ultimately drive its absorption into the
      mainstream. This is the value of the competitive dynamics of

      Laurent Bossavit wrote:
      > What will the world look like after 20 years of Agile / Extreme / Lean
      > etc ? To me, this is the key question. And I hope that it will look
      > rather different, which does make me something of a "revolutionary"
      > in the traditional sense - but I will accept the label only to that
      > extent, of wanting the world to be very different from what it is.

      If not for any other reason... that is good enough for me as well,

      - Mike
    • Laurent Bossavit
      ... Controlled by whom ? Aye, there s the rub. ... Agreed. Here and now, given our skill and knowledge, it would be stupid. Do remember, though, that fairly
      Message 48 of 48 , Jul 25, 2002
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        > As such, any meaningful method has to "embrace change" but perhaps
        > where we differ is that I would add "and do so in a controlled manner."

        Controlled by whom ? Aye, there's the rub.

        > if you are building a high rise, it would be infinitely stupid to start
        > with a pile of lumber and some hand tools and expect to be successful.

        Agreed. Here and now, given our skill and knowledge, it would be
        stupid. Do remember, though, that fairly simple biological organisms
        routinely build, with their bare appendages, constructions which are
        to them as a highrise is to us. Termites. Wasps.

        Conclusion : it is not stupid to expect that we might *develop* the
        knowledge and skill to build a highrise starting with a pile of
        lumber and some hand tools.

        Now. Metaphor is nice, but we are not, in fact, building highrises.
        We are building software, a different kind of thing. What transposes
        there from the metaphor, and what doesn't ?

        > To be clear as well, I have problems with the pseudoscientific sound
        > bites in your statement: "embracing change" strikes me too much like
        > the pop business edits of the 80's and 90's. I mean, what's the
        > alternative? "I'm a Luddite."

        I don't see where you get that. Could be a language problem - as a
        freakin' furriner I always double-check this kind of thing.

        Dictionary.com says : "embrace, to take up willingly or eagerly", or
        more interestingly, "to avail oneself of". Thus the alternatives are:
        "to accept change reluctantly", or even "not to avail oneself of the
        possibilities offered by change". Which is where you're leading with
        your "embrace change in a controlled manner".

        Dictionary.com says Luddite is "One who opposes technical or
        technological change". I think one could legitimately oppose some
        kinds of technical change - human cloning is routinely opposed by
        some people who, perhaps, might object to being labeled Luddites.

        I definitely don't think "embrace change" is vacuous. On the
        contrary, reading some Roberto Unger, who in the domain of social
        science says the same thing under the slogan "Plasticity into Power",
        I found more content in the position than I would have expected from
        a principle of software development.


        The greatest obstacle to transforming the world is that we lack the
        clarity and imagination to conceive that it could be different.
        Roberto Mangabeira Unger
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