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Roy Osherove blogs about getting people to take on scrum who might fear XP.  He makes a great point that I've made myself in the past when mentioning one of the reasons why he likes scrum:

It does not contain the word "Extreme" in its name

I never use the phrase XP or ExtremeProgramming when trying to sell it (I gave a talk on this last month).  I always refer to it as "agile development".  I realize that the two aren't necessarily one and the same, but for the people I'm talking to, it will do.

Why don't I like the word "Extreme"?  Once you start including the word "Extreme" you're going to lose a large part of your audience.  A good portion of your decision-makers, when they hear the word "Extreme", they're going to think of some guy doing flips on a snowboard, not development.  And when you lose your audience, you've lost the sale.

Here's how he sums up it up:

  • It's pretty open to customization

It talks about the iterations planning, release planning and solely lies in the real of management practices. It says nothing about Engineering practices (besides Estimation) - leaving much leg room to do whatever you want during an iteration. You can also change your mind about the way you work between iterations if something does not suit you. 

  • It does not contain the word "Extreme" in its name

This is a really important thing. You see, eXtreme Programming, when compared to Scrum, is really a superset of the Scrum methodology in many ways  - it contains all of the management ideas of Scrum (short iterations, estimation, communication, simplicity and feedback, but is also adds the layer of engineering practices that is missing from Scrum (Unit testing and TDD, Pair programming, Continuous Integration etc..). But it's naming is a real problem.

It's a lot easier showing Scrum as a methodology to management than XP, because it "sounds" very extreme, although many of the concepts are the same.  With scrum I can always say "lets start with short iterations and daily meetings (Scrums) and see what happens next. I can then add XP practices into the Scrum mix incrementally. Because Scrum does not talk about them, people will be less scared of trying things out, and it won't feel as extreme anymore. With XP I need to explain the initial effort to begin with, and always worry that people will be too scared of a change that might be too big for them.

Sure, you can try to implement XP slowly , practice by practice, but the overall feeling is that your overall changes will be much bigger.

With Scrum it's a syntactical, very subtle notion of change. So it's easy to digest for people who may fear change.

And for a light interlude (we laugh because it's funny, but we also laugh because it's true).


As they say, read the whole thing.

Posted on Wednesday, November 22, 2006 7:10 AM Architecture | Back to top

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