Antidote the diving catch culture of heroics and privileged roles

These are notes from my presentation at the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS) #45.

I’ll link to my full paper when it is available and to subsequent posts as I publish them.

Agile values, product innovation and the shortage of women software developers Part 6 of 7

(37) Antidote the diving catch culture of heroics and privileged roles

“Many SET cultures place a high value on risky behaviors: They celebrate heroic diving catches made at the eleventh hour to rescue a failing project”

(38) Problem statement

“Why don’t we just build the system right in the first place? Women are much better at preventive medicine. A Superman mentality is not necessarily productive; it’s just an easy fit for the men in the sector. Because it is generally men who are making the promotion decisions, they recognize this behavior and reward it.”

(39) Collective ownership

Supporting that sentiment are the following Agile principles: “Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.” “Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.” What I’m getting at here is an emergent property like self-organization called collective ownership It’s an outcome of teams that embrace Agile values of self-organization, quality and simplicity.

(40) What collective ownership feels like

“Collective Ownership encourages everyone to contribute new ideas to all segments of the project. Any developer can change any line of code to add functionality, fix bugs, improve designs or refactor. No one person becomes a bottle neck for changes[50].”

(41) Practices that support collective ownership

Collective ownership is the engineering expression of self-organization. To achieve collective ownership, a self-organized team should explore disciplined, collaborative engineering practices: pair programming, evolving architectures with refactoring, frequent integration, unit testing and test-driven development[53].

(42) Why is collective ownership an antidote to heroics?

A diving catch implies a single set of eyes on code. It implies haste and a need for emergency intervention, i.e. poor quality. Emergency code is not unit tested, it is not elegant. It also implies a team that is not pulling together to deliver the goals of their iteration.

(43) Why is collective ownership an antidote to special job assignments

Collective ownership discourages the use of specialists which represent bottlenecks and opaque stores of tacit knowledge. The Scrum guide includes as the basic definition of team, “There are no titles on Teams, and there are no exceptions to this rule. Teams do not contain sub-Teams dedicated to particular domains like testing or business analysis, either[52].”

Next: How values create change from small networks to large…

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All slides published to date.

There is abundant research on the problems women face in our field. I would love researchers to jump in on whether Agile principles and Agile practioners can really make a difference.

I’d also love any suggestions of organizations, institutions and individuals I might reach out to for more information, collaboration, or to take up the cause.

Please comment on my proposal to Agile 2012.

The full citation list for my paper.