I was catching up on some of my mailing lists this evening when I came across the following post by the Agile Coach at my former employer:
One of our development groups, 4 XP teams, just ended a 3 month period of management imposed overtime. The result was lower velocity, more defects delivered to production, more time spent fixing production problems, more sick days.
MoreTime != MoreValue
While I couldn’t agree with him more, it was disheartening because I know the people on those teams and is an amazing admission that when faced with a crisis the real belief in XP by management will come out.
First, anytime I see the words “mandatory mangement” anything is a big red flag that something is amiss. In an XP team you have to communicate with your teams to understand how to get past the problems and achieve the solution.
For example, there were times when something needed to get done, and we were on a deadline we wanted to meet, so we would work extra to get it done. Which is fine for two reasons:
- We, as a team, decided it
- It was for a short term, after which we went back to our normal schedules
But three months? There is nothing sustainable in that pace and either means that the teams have stopped communicating, management has stopped listening, or everyone has just given up.
What’s disheartening is that, when I was there, I saw teams and individuals who really believed in XP. They saw the value, craved the communication and the openness, and were doing their best to make it work in spite of the limitations imposed on them from a top-down deployment of XP.
It’s also disheartening because I fear developers are going to leave there thinking that’s the way XP is, and have a bad taste in their mouth.
That coach must be a better man than I, because I certainly can’t imagine staying on as a coach trying to help people through everything he has been through, including this. I only hope that things begin to turn around, that the devs understand they have the power to change things, and that management understands that now is the time to really listen to what the dev teams are saying and act on them.