Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Reading further into Extreme Programming, my impression is that it's the most comprehensive attempt to address the requirements of Wicked Problems I've seen so far. Given Wicked Problems are not confined to software, I'm sure many of the practices translate to e.g. developing consumer products or delivering a consultancy service. One concept in XP, for example is ClearTheFog (apologies for the lack of spaces, its a programmer thing). In a sense nothing radical,it just says produce something - anything - that will help clarify requirements. But how often do knowledge workers get a vague request and respond by doing the quickest thing possible to test if they're on the right track? In business we may call it a straw man, but I've seen people spend months producing straw men - that's a huge risk to carry. So its not that people outside sopftware development don't intuitively know these practices, but that in XP their use is enshrined.

Note too that many XP principles are entirely conter to the trajectory most organizations are taking their knowledge workers. While most business publications talk about tele-working, virtual teams, global teams, hot-desking and outsourcing parts of your business process (e.g. services to your employees), XP advocates putting all developers and a customer representative in the same room, collaborating by sitting side-by-side, sympathetic desk arrangements and 'stand up' meetings.

The implication? If you are responsible for a workplace that tackles wicked problems, do you have a strategy that's moving towards XP principles or away?

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