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What Stops XP?

Here some XP-blockers to be aware of:

  • Fear. XP is new, different, and, from your viewpoint, untried. Uncertainty and doubt are to be expected. Is your fear caused by lack of information? Have you been the victim of a bad sell? Start by reading Kent Beck's "white book," Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change (Addison-Wesley, 2000, ISBN 0-201-61641-6), and get the facts from the horse's mouth.

  • Tools fail. Don't underestimate the need for tools that work. Groupware tools are easy to get right; go for the simple first. If Post-It notes work for defect allocation to developers, use them. Realize the need for automated test and build tools. These are freely available to Java and Microsoft platforms, but be on guard for integration issues. (You may need to spike these early; busy a team member with the build environment as early as possible. Examples of these are integration issues with, say, Vignette/iPlanet/Java tools. We have the scars to prove it!) If your operating system lacks the capacity to support continuous integration (excessive build times/lack of tools), consider another XP target.

  • Distance. Virtual XP is theoretically possible on some levels; the hindrances are more social than technical. There is no reason why integration, testing, and collective ownership can't be maintained trans-locally. However, once the customers and developers are separated by time and space, the collaboration is much more difficult. Inflection in voice and change of expression are lost across email. Consider carefully how you will implement XP in your distributed environment.

  • Leadership. There's a transition from project management to XP coach. If your coach is an undercover dictator or closet technocrat, you'll quickly lose the joy of the journey. It could be that he or she is simply falling back into familiar command-and-control behavior; whatever your role, speak up and gently point your coach back to your XP values. Observe as the project progresses; is the coach or leader using XP as another bag of tricks to add to the arsenal, or does he or she "get it"?

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