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Leading Your Extreme Programming Project

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XP software development requires a new kind of management style. The classic role of project manager is redefined as team leaders place emphasis on people not process. Learn what kind of skills you'll need to lead your XP project.

See all Sams Teach Yourself on InformIT Programming Tutorials.

This chapter is from the book

In this hour you will learn how to lead your XP project. If you're a project manager or team leader, you'll need to gain a firm understanding of the differences between managing and leading in XP. In this hour we will cover

  • How the XP values relate to leadership

  • The importance of people to the success of the project

  • What it takes to be a leader in an XP project

  • What is team building, and what it means for an XP project

Using XP Values to Run Your Project

You can think of your software development project as consisting of two parts: the process of managing the work and the actual programming itself. Some of the XP practices are clearly developer-related, such as Pair Pro-gramming and refactoring. Others, such as The Planning Game are tools you can use to lead or manage. In this hour we'll consider the kind of approach you'll need to adopt as you start to lead XP projects. A great place to begin this is by revisiting our XP values and principles with respect to leadership.

  • Simplicity—Lead using simple tools that work such as cards, whiteboards, and Web applications. As a leader you'll search for practical solutions and not be afraid to move furniture or do whatever it takes to clear the way for the team.

  • Communication—XP practices such as Pair Programming require communication to work. XP recognizes this and seeks to remove barriers between team members. As a coach you'll be watching interactions, listening for fluctuations in tone, and generally getting a sense of the team. Improving the team's communication, most of which is verbal, falls on your shoulders.

  • Feedback—Feedback is happening all the time between customer and developer, and leaders need feedback, too. Is your leadership effective? Are team members who are new to XP growing under your mentoring?

  • Courage—The team will quickly learn to respect you as you display courage, fighting for the rights of the team. If your customer or management is new to XP, they might be skeptical or even negative. Expect pressure to come on you to "bend the rules" as the new comes into conflict with the old.

Leading your XP project means no hiding behind project plans, status reports, and emails. The team expects you to be technical and relevant enough to add hands-on value as well. Starting your XP project could be a little uncertain, a little loose for you if you're used to a more structured approach. Structure isn't a bad thing at all, as long as the team is doing the simplest thing that could possibly work. So, we can apply our XP programming approach to leadership on the project. If you as a leader can demonstrate integrity and ability, your team will follow and together you'll reach success. The starting point is to recognize the unique nature of your people. They make the difference.

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