The Fifth Element

Uncle Bob has recently published an new book, “Clean Code”. In it, as I understand it, and in his energetic keynote at the Agile 2008 Conference Dinner keynote in Toronto, he talked a lot on the subject of Craftsmanship. He proposed a fifth element to the Agile Manifesto, “Craftsmanship over Crap”, or as he revised it in his blog, “Craftsmanship over Execution”.

I fully agree that our work requires craftsmanship and ethics and a lot of other things to be carried out with quality. However, I do not agree that there is a need for this to be a fifth element. I think that by examining what we mean by “Working Software” it is not needed.

“Working Software” does not mean “it’s done, since it is running”. To me it means that it actually works, in the same way that it fullfills *all* of its purposes, “fitness to purpose” if you will. This would mean that not only does it function, it also gives a positive user experience, is fit for future change, has quality enough to not surprise and so on. I strongly believe that the term quality do include all dimensions of such fitness.

Usually “Quality” is used in a more restricted meaning, which takes away from its broad spectrum of value. Again, by viewing “Working Software” to include this dimension we don’t need any specific craftmanship element. If anything, I think that David Anderssons suggestion of a fifth element has more merits. He proposed a fifth element focusing on Continous Improvement, which I think is at the heart of Agile, and unfortunately missing in the Manifesto.

Blogs about my Toronto presentation

Ronica, a coach from Rally, have blogged about my “GTD + Kanban + Round Robin for Product Owners” presentation. It is actually a good and correct sum up of the content, so go read it!

In a sum up on pull system presentations at Agile 2008 Corey Ladas mentions my presentation. He doesn’t indicate if he went to see it or not 😉 Jim at Modus specifically says he won’t be going, but points to Kanban and Pull Systems presentations at Agile 2008 in this blogKarl Scotland recommended my presentation as one of the ones you should attend. Again it is unknown if he went.

Toronto presentation

View from my Toronto hotel roomI have just finished doing my presentation at Agile 2008 in Toronto. The presentation was titled “GTD + Kanban + Round Robin for Product Owners” and was an extended version of one of my lightning talks from “Agila Sverige” in July. I will get back and blog a bit about how the idea was born and how we actually used that in my latest project. Meanwhile I will provide the presentation here in Flash and PDF format.

The Theory of X and Y (and Z)

I am sitting here at the Shiphol airport, Amsterdam, waiting for my flight to Toronto. (A 4,5 hour transit so I have not much else to do but to write a new blog post…) I had a quick look at the books in the bookstore and my eyes fell on a couple of small books with the titles 50 ideas you really need to know about. 50 concepts within a specific subject described in just a page or two. One of them was about management ideas, written by Edward Russell-Walling. I flipped through it, most of the concepts where of course know to me already, but there was one I hadn’t heard of before, or maybe forgotten, The Theory of X and Y. Douglas McGregor described these two theories in his 1960 book The Human Side of Enterprise, thinking that the management style of a leader reflects his/her view of human nature. The idea is that they are two contrasting ideas about how people act and should be treated.

Theory X says that people are lazy, self-centered and must be kept in control with hard rules and firm, and detailed management. These people can only be controlled and only work if their basic lower level needs (physiological and safety, according to Maslow) are at stake. And of course Theory Y then is the opposite, people take responsibility, are full of initiative and will find their own solutions to any problem if they are treated as mature adult persons. Of course drawing on the higher Maslow levels.

Theory Z is then a mix deviced by the Hawaiian-born William Ouchi aimed at mixing American and Japanese practices.

So is the management view of people, or at least developers in your organisation, shifting towards Theory Y? Maybe that is a trend in many areas, but it is interesting to see such an explicit correlation made between American (low level needs, threats, control) and Japanese (higher level needs, inspiration, self-direction) management styles.

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