Combining project success with personal growth
As I have mentionned in a previous post, this mistrust towards developer community has made the job less attractive for valuable people, who invariably prefer to flee and find better rewarded positions.
Even more, I am convinced that all human being can develop and demonstrate unsuspected capacities and skills when placed under favorable conditions. Unfortunately a one-week training program in his specific technical field is often the only opportunity for growth that the average designer that has not been discouraged by this system can expect.
Now let's examine how Extreme Programming promotes a new midset for organisations by placing people at the heart of its strategy.
Happy for having been member of an XP team for 5 years now, I can attest team success and personal growth are a daily reality for me. XP has radically improved my perception of work, and, more importantly, it has deeply empowered me: I grow everyday more confident and happy in my professional as well as my personal life.
I highly recommend everybody around me to read "XP Explained 2nd Edition" from Kent Beck. Far from being a copy of the first, it is merely a complement, with 5 more years of maturity on the subject. It explains the roots of the methodology, its philosophy, and some hints to correctly implementing it.
The central paradigm of XP is "Stay aware. Adapt. Change."
I want here to emphasize on 6 XP principles (among 14) that show the attachement of the methodology to personal growth. I will hereafter paraphrase Kent Beck (excuse me Kent) because I cannot think about better words.
Quoted from XPE2 :
- Humanity: a XP team aims to meet personnal needs such as basic safety, accomplishment, belonging, growth and intimacy,
- Mutual benefit promotes Win-Win relationships,
- Improvement: Perfect is a verb, not an adjective (I do love this sentence)
- Opportunity: To reach excellence, problems need to turn into opportunity for improvement, not just survival
- Accepted Responsability: Responsability cannot be assigned, it can only be accepted (authority and responsability have to be aligned)
Of course, applying all these principles suggests a true shift in mind: team members have to build trustfully relationships between each others. The "Open Kimono" metaphor from Tom de Marco (Peopleware) reflects perfectly the mindset of an healthy XP team, since it allows for constructive conflicts to develop.
From my experience XP has brought up committed individuals on top of things; it has helped them becoming efficient problem solvers, responsible for the success of the entire project.
This leads to the subject of what Daniel Goleman calls "Emotional Intelligence", including self-control, zeal and persistence. Helping to deal positively with criticism, EI leads to greater motivation and cooperation within teams.
In traditional organizations, people working together will not necessarily share sensitive information. Furthermore, each brings some talent (creativity, technical expertise, empathy, high verbal fluancy...), but very few are willing to help their teamates to develop. Assuming basic elements of social intelligence, XP cultivates an internal harmony that enables great results to show up.
Finally, I believe a mature XP team (like the one I am working in) implements a micro "Learning Organization", following the five disciplines of Peter Senge (Personnal Mastery, Team Learning, Shared Vision, Mental Models, and System Thinking). But this is a whole subject of its own...
"Individuals and interactions over processes and tools" is the most important value of the Agile Manifesto
Indeed, XP considers people as the nerve center of a successful innovative organization, and this induces a positive and creative mindset in the hearts of participants that will soon empower that same organisation. I think this is the first and most important reinforcing process that XP has created.