Cool Quotes and Ideas from XP Day

Several of us attended London XP Day last month and learnt lots of nifty things. I kept a list of some of the cool quotes and suggestions I picked up. Apologies if I don’t give attributions for some of these, as I didn’t manage to keep track of most participants’ names despite the nice nametags.

  • Often tasks seem too trivial or boring for pairing, but it’s just these tasks that can lead to careless bugs and specialisation. When you hit such a task, pair for five or ten minutes on it, and break up only if both partners agree the task is not worth pairing on.
  • “A story should be a question, not a solution. Customers tend to give us solutions, but we should make them recast these as problems we could solve in many ways.”
  • “Self-organising means you don’t come back to The Boss when it doesn’t work out.”
  • The Greeks gave us definitions and categories that defined Platonic forms, and we thought people’s brains worked this way for two thousand years. Then in the 1970’s, we worked out that actually human minds take a bunch of exemplars and make a fuzzy category out of them – so you literally can’t define the Platonic house. Of course, this is exactly what agile developers do – hit the problem domain with loads of user stories until we figure out what users actually want – because in fact the requirements don’t exist until we define the concepts with exemplars! [This was
    Keith Braithwaite
    . See The Big Book of Concepts for more.]
  • Intentionally forming a buddy relationship with someone in a totally different part of the software development world – and seeing that person regularly over the course of a year – has unexpected benefits, including recruiting opportunities, ideas for new activities like coding dojos, and a shoulder to cry on. Try it! [Me, inspired by Portia Tung and Duncan Pierce. My buddy is Simon Woolf from Loopo.]
  • The NHS have a manager with 200 direct reports none of whom have ever met him. Try implementing Lean thinking in that environment! [Marc Baker]