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RE: [XP] Re: Agile Rentschian Thinking

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  • Booch, Grady
    ... [egb ] Mike, you ve missed my point. Are self-organizing systems fragile? Yes...take a look at any of the references I offered up - that s the conclusion
    Message 1 of 48 , Jul 11, 2002
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      > I disagree.

      [egb> ] Mike, you've missed my point. Are self-organizing systems fragile?
      Yes...take a look at any of the references I offered up - that's the
      conclusion of lots of researchers who look for organization on the edge of
      chaos: achieving sustainable, emergent behavior that comes from
      self-organization requires a delicate combination of context plus sufficient
      and necessary rules to reach a point of stability. Change any of those
      initial conditions or rules and the desired emergent behavior ceases to
      exhibit itself. Hawking and others have pointed out in a similar vein that
      if one were to tweak any of the universal constants, the world as we
      experience it would simply not be (that's not to say that another kind of
      universe would not exist, but we as we are here and now would not be present
      to experience it).

      [egb> ] Does Scrum offer value that derives from its self-organization
      principles? That's an entirely orthogonal issue, and I did not then nor am I
      now arguing that point. I do not deny that self-organization is possible or
      that it can lead to emergent behavior. The point of my message was simply
      that doing so via self-organization alone <is> a delicate thing

      > Have you ever run an XP or a Scrum project, btw? You would know if
      > you had.

      [egb> ] Gosh, but if Scrum relies on self-organization, why do you need
      anyone to run such a project at all? :-)

      [egb> ] I was being a bit flippant, but that's why I would argue that
      there's much more than self-organization that's going on here in the
      dynamics of a Scrum project. "Running" a project suggests injecting certain
      energy to direct the flow of that project above and beyond what derives from
      the principles of self-organization.

      [egb> ] Have I "run" an XP project? When I was cutting Smalltalk code some
      years ago, I was doing what we now would probably identify as XP. I had a
      pair programmer; we created tests first; we continuously integrated a
      running system; we had the customer on side for much of the time. I don't
      cut as much code today, but I do consult/mentor a handful of projects that
      are trying to apply XP to much bigger things.

      > The Agile Manifesto simply contains a summary of the agile principles
      > 17 guys could articulate in 2 days. It is a good start, but do not
      > reflect all of the rules, values, practices, patterns, and principles,
      > that are embedded into each of the agile methods.

      [egb> ] The problem with any movements that re driven by strong, unique,
      gifted individuals with special insight is that they are hard to replicate
      because they rely upon lots of hidden rules, values, practices, patterns,
      and principles that are locked up in the heads of their creators. I would
      venture to say that the growth of Scrum, as you vision it, will be limited
      in its expanse to the degree that you can personally carry that message to
      the world. That's why publicly articulating all those rules etc is essential
      - and the very act of trying to articulate those things will force any
      agilest doing so to be very precise and complete. Some may complain about
      the size of the RUP compared to some of the agile stuff, but a) just like
      the Agile Manifesto, the basic spirit of the RUP can be shown in one or two
      PowerPoint slides and b) everything else there is just details (the RUP just
      makes those details manifest).

      [egb> ] By the way, since you asked and I replied, have you ever been a
      project manager for a RUP project?

      > Grady Booch wrote:
      > > [egb> ] With regard to having the right set of initial
      > > conditions, this is a hard one, for processes, like the parable of
      > > the seeds, sometimes fall on hard ground and fail to flourish...that's
      > > not a fault of the process, but a consequence of the culture into
      > > which that process is injected.
      >
      > Sounds like a "process" crisis to me, in the sense that you are trying
      > to control through process things that are above and beyond its
      > capability.

      [egb> ] You've missed my point again. No process will change initial
      conditions (e.g. I've got a pile of mainframe programmers I'm trying to drag
      into the world of the Web; I have to use platform X; I have to contend with
      legacy code Y; the executives of my company are clueless as to their ability
      to manage software; the code warriors of my company are clueless to anything
      beyond coding their way out of every problem). These are all aspects of a
      development culture, and no matter what process you use, you must take these
      initial conditions into account, for you cannot alter them.
      >
      >
      > Grady Booch wrote:
      > > [egb >] Finally, self-organization takes time and energy. Systems that
      > > operate within the laws of physics self-organize in relative real time;
      > > systems that operate within the laws of chemical interactions take a bit
      > > more time; systems that operate within the laws of biology take a
      > > long time (evolution); systems that operate within the laws of human
      > > psychology take a wide range of time (social interactions at
      > > a cocktail party versus global cultural trends). Agilism, IMO,
      > > operates at the speed of human interaction.
      >
      > It works in practice. If you ran Scrum or XP projects you would know.

      [egb> ] Mike, you've missed my point again, and are becoming unnecessarily
      defensive in a manner that makes it counterproductive to understanding. I
      did not say that Scrum et al does not work in practice. My point here is
      that self-organization is not an instantaneous event, but that it requires
      some amount of time to reach a point of stability. The best kinds of such
      systems are additionally resilient, meaning that they self-reorganize in the
      presence of external forces. That reorganization also is a non-zero time
      activity. That's all I'm saying.

      > I disagree on two counts: a) it doesn't feel fragile in practice, and b)
      > the agile principles are not the only thing at play.

      [egb> ] I absolutely accept that it does not feel fragile in practice to
      you; similarly, a properly executed RUP project has been, in my experience,
      a very resilient thing that helps teams create great software.

      [egb> ] As for point b, so, enlighten us: what are those other things that
      are at play? This group exists for all of us to learn and share.
    • 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.

        Cheers,

        -[Morendil]-
        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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