Is your process dead?

Two of the conventional criteria for exhibiting life are:

  • Adaptation
  • Response to stimuli

Together these combine into the ability to respond to outside forces.  So how do we know if your process is dead?  If your team or organization:

  • Does not elicit feedback on a regular basis
  • Cannot respond to feedback

Then your process is dead.

Eliciting feedback

In process control systems, stability is achieved by measuring output and incorporating that data back into the system.  Consider driving down a straight road.  No matter how straight you point the wheel initially, your car will eventually veer off course.

To keep straight, you make regular observations on how straight you are and make small changes.  Wait too long to make changes and you’ll likely meet the rumble strips, the shoulder, or another vehicle.

By eliciting feedback early and often, we have the information required to make small changes to correct our course.  One of the XP values is feedback, which manifests itself through the practices of testing, retrospectives, continuous integration and others.

Responding to feedback

Now that you’re making frequent observations, your engineering processes have to be tuned to be able to respond to that feedback.  If you drive an old beater car where you can only turn the wheel once a minute, making directional observations every second won’t ensure a comfortable ride.  I’ll be able to see myself driving off the cliff, but I have only two options: jump out of the car or ride it out Thelma and Louise style.

Although Scrum elicits feedback, your team will not be able to respond to that feedback unless it’s a well oiled machine.  That’s where the engineering values, principles and practices of XP come into play.  By following XP, your team can respond to the mountain of feedback Scrum introduces to the system.

If your organization is looking to adopt Scrum, keep in mind the engineering practices of XP.  Without them, you’re on a straight line to a dead process.

Controller bloat?