David Hussman and I will be running a workshop at XP2006 and Agile 2006 conferences. The workshop was inspired by the success that we have found with using Project Chartering to establish working agreements within development teams on how they plan to implement agile practices.
We hope to attract practitioners with experiences in implementing agile development or planning practices who needed to fine-tune those practices to work in their organisation. Specifically, we want to know what questions you advise other teams to ask themselves before applying the same practice.
You can find the call for participation for the XP2006 workshop here. We hope you will be intrigued enough to join us.
I was at the Cutter Summit last week and was thrilled to see Tom DeMarco in action there, chairing many of the panel sessions. I pick a copy of "The Deadline: A Novel about Project Management" at the bookstall to read on the long flight home. Not very far into the book, I was surprised to find some advice on "Embrace Change" pre-dating the "Extreme Programming Explained" book which was subtitled "Embrace Change".
In The Deadline, Tom DeMarco notes that "People can't embrace change unless they feel safe.", "A lack of safety makes people risk-adverse" and "People can be made to feel unsafe by direct threats, but also by the sense that power may be used against them abusively". This is interesting. I have seen XP teams flounder in environments where highly charged organisational political games were being played.
XP provides mechanisms that offer safety to the team: by only making small commitments at a time, allowing change at any time and endevouring to make information on current status visible. These principles run counter to political agendas where sticking to positions and concealment of the true situation are the way the game is played.
Where employees start to feel vulnerable to the pressure of organisational politics, it becomes harder to stick to XP principles, sustainable pace goes out of the window and rigid plans set in.
Although XP may offer a way to deliver high pressure projects, watch out for signs that XP principles have been thrown out in place of dictated drudgery where the ability to Embrace Change means nothing.