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Executive Summary of Extreme Programming


An XP team offers accountability to appropriately-skeptical exectives. The team will say what they intend to do and then will say exactly what they did. XP teams offer fewer nasty project surprises, both the gross kind like, "I know last week we said we were one week from being done but actually it'll be more like four to six months" and the integrity-related surprises, I know we said we would have a testing phase but we just don't have time. You will have to manage the customers when they hit a raft of defects. It offers responsibility. The team will own their results without making excuses. If things don't go well, they will report the current state and then focus on what can be done next. It offers flexibility. If the market for the software changes suddenly, the team can adapt instantly and maintain morale at the same time.

XP offers measurable results: dramatically fewer defects; gradually reducing overhead; higher productivity; higher morale; more frequent feedback in the form of deployable software with measurable properties like number of tests, complexity, and coverage. If applying XP doesn't achieve these results in visible, measureable ways in a matter of months, XP has failed in your organization.

There are aspects of XP that are hard to measure; like confidence, peace of mind, justified pride in work well done, joy at both coming to work and leaving at the end of the day, creativity, level of tension in the workspace, rapport. For the executive those can be pleasant surprises to discover later. What you can promise up front are higher levels of productivity, accountability, flexibility, honesty and predictability and lower levels of defects, schedule slips, valueless features, wasted effort, cost and surprises. This is often enough to warrant an experiment in XP.

Experimenting with XP involves picking a pilot project and trying XP. If the pilot team is not confident in their skills they can engage a coach to model XP-behavior and attitudes. The team will work better the more closely they can communicate with their customers. The team works best with one or more customers on the team, sitting together and interacting daily. Ask the team to set concrete goals for progress along measures that matter to you and report their actual results clearly and directly.