Thoughts & feedback on Roy Osherove’s audio interview with Kent Beck

Roy did a great interview with Kent Beck, an author of several books about XP\Agile development and one of the most influence figures in that industry. I tried to think about the answers I would give Roy if he asked me some of those question, so here are my answers and some short feedback about the interview itself:

Push yourself to your extreme.
I’m one of the folks Roy mentioned that tries to get better by testing new methodologies\practices like Pair Programming, Unit-Test-first code-after, daily build process (etc) when I have the chance of doing so. By saying that some of the techniques such as Pair Programming just couldn’t work here in Israel due to our complex nature(intolerance and straight-hard-to-your-face-comments) is somewhat rude (see – I’m a good Israeli, no problem saying “hard comments” ;-)) as the term “Pair Programming”, IMHO anyway, doesn’t necessarily mean working on the same code at the same time; It’s about thinking and discussing about the same context and move toward the solution at the same time – something which I enjoy doing on my every day work and I’m familiar with many more programmers out there that practice this technique in their every day work.
I think that Kent gave a good answer: those methods DO work(even in Israel) – the context or definition of “success” is debatable and can go either way, but those methods serve a better all as our main goal is to be the best we can be, and XP\Agile techniques are just some more tools and ideas for us to become so. That attitude, the “extreme achiever-wannabe”, is the one I’m searching of at people, and this is what I’m working hard on in order to inspire others.


The cold hard truth – one man can’t(?) change an entire organization.
Every once in a while I hear(while someone just throws it at my face) the sentence “you’re still young and naive, you can’t change this\that\him\her” or “you’ve been lucky to work with those people; with my teammates you couldn’t done it…”; I guess that I’m just one of those optimistic people which think that by doing your best and influence others by your positive nature will work (to some extent, as I mentioned earlier) in any given group of people unless this group is doomed for failure and are willingly accept it. Can one man can change the world? I guess not, but I would like keep thinking so as I know that this will give me the inspiration and motivation I need. The definition of success is bound to the “ribbon” you’re attached to. As a programmer, your world is pretty small but you can definitely make it spin in the reverse direction if you push hard enough. It would be much more difficult to change the world of other team in your department, I just think that this shouldn’t stop you.


“People want some hard answers which will inspire them to get better”

Roy – I can’t agree more, and at the same breath, I can’t disagree more on this phrase. You see, most of us want hard answers as we wish to believe that by applying other methodologies\actions\thoughts we’re improving our-selfs and raising our bar just one inch higher in the path of becoming better; So I definitely think that hard answers for complicated question, in some of the cases(case = person&context), will create the wanted effect.

On the other hand, the more creative you are, the more “self-succeeder” you want to become – the less it will apply to you. Meaning, I don’t want to get straight answers about “What is the right way to develop a 6 months project with 3 programmers and one team leader” and the reason is simple – any answer you’ll give will be wrong, but at the same time it will be also right so I’m still at step one. As you get older you realize that there is no right answer, so reading a book, or asking Kent for his opinion is just another (great)source\idea\tool to add to you tool-box, nothing more. Showing your attentions and discuss about those hard questions with other co-workers can cause the required inspiration that people are so eagerly searching for.


General feedback:

Roy – I think that you did a great job “pinning” Kent to the corner and ask the really hard questions about XP\Agile development which can seem like empty buzzwords instead of real solutions to specific organization\projects\teams\context in the eye of the intermediate programmer. I can’t say that I’ve learned something entirely new, but It sure made feel better about my grasp of software development and people management.

Kudos for your not-so-Israeli accent(:-)) and for your time !


Oren Ellenbogen


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