This week we reach a bit of transition in Kent Beck and Cynthia Andres’s Extreme Programing Explained, Second Edition (2005). A short but contextually important entry. Chapter 16 ends Section One with an interview with Brad Jensen. Section Two addresses the philosophies of XP. Chapter 17 tell the creation story of XP from Beck’s point of view.
Chapter 16: Interview
The chapter is an interview with Brad Jensen of Saber Airline Solutions that details his organization’s story of implementing and using XP. The story provides guidance, cautions and a presentation of the benefits gained from using XP.
Jensen reported that Saber experienced a substantial reduction in defects. The reduction in defects was substantial enough to outperform the CMMI Maturity Level 5 organizations that participated in the Bengaluru (Bangalore) SPIN.
Implementing XP was not easy. Implementing XP was a slow process of establishing buy-in eventually reaching 80 – 90% penetration. He indicated that at the end of the day they had the courage to fire people who wouldn’t pair program. In essence, those that eventually couldn’t or wouldn’t make the transition were jettisoned so the organization could reap the benefits of quality and productivity.
The interview ends with Jensen’s recommendation to use XP.
Section 2: Philosophy of XP
The section of the book discusses the philosophy of XP. Over the nine chapters in this section, Beck and Andres explored applying lessons from other to accelerate the application of XP and applying XP in the varied development environments found in the today’s world.
Chapter 17: Creation Story
If you reflect, often the difference between the ideas that catch on and those that don’t is less about effectiveness and more a function of their legends or stories. The story serves to anchor the ideas and to place them in context so they can more easily be consumed. Daniel Pink, in his book Made to Stick, described how ideas can become sticky. A story that connects with the person consuming the story’s perception of the world is a major step towards making the idea stick in their mind. The XP creation story described by Beck reflects a project reality that almost everyone in software development and maintenance has experienced. The fact that we can relate predisposes developers to listen and accept the ideas that are at the core of XP.
XP was “born” on the Chrysler payroll project. Beck was called in to evaluate and later to rescue a large project that had turned into a “train wreck.” The assessment was that if the project left to continue on the current path that delivery was a pipe dream. Beck was asked to rescue the project which provided a lavatory for using XP. In the book, Beck stated, “My goal laying out the project style was to take everything I knew to be valuable about software engineering and turn the dials to 10″ this was the outline of extreme programming.” Leveraging XP helps turns the project that had begun as a train wreck into a business success. The XP creation story presents us with a version of the hero’s journey beginning where the journey started, the trials along the way, the goal that was attained and the steps to move forward after the goal has been met.
The recitation of the creation story serves multiple purposes. First, the story makes the point that XP can scale to be used on large projects successfully. Additionally, the creation story and the interview in Chapter 16 explicitly identifies benefits are attainable using XP which is important in order to explain the value of XP.
A few quick notes. We are going to read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Jossey-Bass . This will be a new book for me, therefore, an initial read (I have not read this book yet), not a re-read! Steven Adams suggested the book and it has been on my list for a few years! Click the link (The Five Dysfunctions of a Team), buy a copy and in a few weeks, we will begin to read the book together.