Fiona and I are planning Lia’s 5th birthday (27 July!) and a favourite kids’ party game is Pass the Parcel. Kids sit in a circle, and there’s a surprise package with wads and wads of wrapping. Music plays. Kids pass the parcel around. Music stops. Kid with parcel removes one layer of wrapping. Music plays, pass it again. And the last layer removed reveals the prize and that kid gets to keep it. Do it once for each child, carefully timing the music and every kid is a winner 🙂
It reminded me of this business of tossing artifacts from once person to another in a development team. In waterfall, it’s obvious who has what and what layer is peeled off when. In fake agile(*), it’s not so obvious. You know the music is playing when people ignore responsibility and toss it onwards or backwards. The only difference, is that the party game everyone wins. In the software game, everyone loses.
A few years back I sat in a class where Kent Beck explored XP with ten of us for a day. For the first time, I realised that XP was less about coding practices and more about being decent people. If I wanted to write quality software on time, on budget, etc. then I needed to have courage to accept responsibility for everything. I don’t need to do everything, but I needed to feel responsible for everything. No more passing the parcel, when it was convenient for me. To do that, you need courage and respect.
Somehow, it feels like an Ubuntu coding thing again. If you pass the parcel, make sure the receiver has good chance of winning the game.
(*) When the teams says they’re agile, practice agility mechanically, but don’t live by the value system which will make them agile in their heads.