Today I received my reviewers copy of "User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development" by Mike Cohn. I am happy to recommend this to beginners as an excellent handbook to stories as used in XP and Scrum. Mike talks about how to write stories and use them for planning. I like that he tells you not to number stories (and explains why) and also the "triangulation" technique.
I was delighted to see my XP2001 paper The Power of Stories quoted in the book a couple of times. Some small shred of comfort that I do know something about writing stories as sometimes my advice falls on deaf ears.
Last year I went for a tour of the Toyota car plant in Derby. Thanks again to the team at Romax for inviting me along on their company visit.
Of course the factory I visited was a production system and XP teams work on product development not production but there were some interesting similarities.
The most obvious one is that it is a card based system.
The Toyota Production System also uses visual and audible cuesto help focus attention on areas of the production line that need attention.
There is a cord that runs the length of the production line and workers are encouraged to pull the Andon cord where they spot quality problems, this then lights up large visual displays along the line called Andon boards. The machines play tunes (poka yoke) when they need attention. Funny to hear machines playing Greensleeves.
This struck me as similar to the way XP teams Cruise Control notifications to alert developers that the build is broken. Also, when I worked at Connextra we used audible cues in our XP process. We had a Moo cow that a pair would use to indicate that they had released changes and other pairs might want to catch up with their changes. We also allocated our live web servers voices (kids tv characters and pokemon) and they would start speaking up when they were under high load and not responding to our pings. This made it faster to diagnose where the problem was.
XP has moved on since the "XP Explained" book was published in 2000. I sometimes meet people who have only read this book and do not realize this. The line I would most like to change is Kent's definition of a Story that says it may be upto five ideal weeks long, most practitioners would agree this is too big. Also, the practice of Testing has moved on hugely in TDD.
That XP has evolved is not surprising, "Embrace Change" is the XP mantra. DSDM was established in the early 90's and is now on version 4.2. The emergence of the Agile Alliance has also encouraged teams to borrow practices from other agile methods. Although, there has lately been an "attack of the hybrids" where any method that does not have development practices has advocated "XP inside" (advice has been published on this for Scrum and DSDM but there may be others). The flow also goes the other way, XP teams have also been picking up ideas, such as retrospectives and show'n'tell (adpated from Sprint Review Meeting in Scrum).
The only way of feeding these adaptations back is conference papers and the high traffic mailing list, this is not very accessible for newcomers.
Industrial XP attempts to extend XP including practices to support organizational change such as Project Chartering. However, not many people would consider IXP as mainstream XP. It would be great to get some demographics on how widely adopted XP is and some view of what practices are used.
The good news is that Kent has mentioned on mailing lists that he is working on a second edition of "XP Explained" to be published later this year. I am hoping that this will bring some clarity to what is and is not XP.
Caught up with the Shape forum today (and ordered a few books on the back of recommendations there). I liked this poem Jerry quoted by Edie Seashore.
We'll look back on this and laugh.
Why not now?