TITLE: Agile Moments: Values and Integrity Come Before Practices AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: July 23, 2010 2:29 PM DESC: ----- BODY: As important as the technical practices of the agile software developer are, it is good to keep in mind that they are a means to an end. Jeff Langr and Tim Ottinger do a great job of summarizing the characteristics of agile development teams and reminding us that they are not specific practices. Ottinger boiled it down to a simple phrase in a recent discussion of this piece on the XP mailing list: "... start with the values." Later in the same thread, Langr commented on what made teaching XP practices so frustrating:
... I am very happy now to be developing in a team doing TDD, and to not be debating daily with apathetic and/or duplicitous people who want to make excuses. You're right, you can reach the lazier folks, given enough time.... It's the sly ones who spent more time crafting excuses, instead of earnestly trying to learn, who drove me nuts.
Few people can learn something entirely new to them without making a good-faith effort. When someone pretends to make a good-faith effort but then schemes not to learn, everyone's time is wasted -- and a lot of the coach's or teacher's limited energy, too. I have been fortunate in my years teaching CS to encounter very few students who behave this way. Most do make an effort to learn, and their struggles are signs that I need to try something different. And every once in a while I run into into is honest and says outright, "I'm not going to do that." This lets us both move straight on to more productive uses of our time. On the same theme of values and integrity, I love this line from John Cook
If the smart thing to do doesn't scale, maybe we shouldn't scale.
His entry is in part about values. When someone says that we can't treat people well "because that doesn't scale", they are doing what many managerial strategies and software development processes do to people. It also reminds me of why many in the agile development community favor small teams. Not everything that we value scales, and we value those things enough that we are willing to look for ways to work "small". -----