Extreme Programming Uninstalled

Keynote by Ron Jeffries

Ron Jeffries

Agile Software Development is over; it is so last century. As always, Extreme Programming leads the way to the new era, the resurgence of what really works: Waterfall. It all begins with values.

The truth is Simplicity itself. Individuals and Interactions are the problem, not the solution. If you can't see this in your own office, you can surely see it in the news. In the 21st century, we will need improved Processes and Tools to deal with the necessary complexity of things. Waterfall has always specialized in Processes and Tools. We understand the requirements, and have the design necessary to pick up the ball that "Agile" and "XP" have dropped.

Communication of this newly understood truth is critical. Frankly I am ashamed that I didn't see it in my own work. As an individual who publishes his every thought, I should have been first to see the importance of writing everything down. It's true that people have difficulty writing, and that the written word is subject to misunderstanding. But at least it doesn't change, which gives people more time to figure it out. We can't possibly create Working Software unless we have the necessary Comprehensive Documentation.

Feedback, we now see, is the problem, not the solution. How is it possible to get anything done if all the time you're looking for, listening to, and - worst of all -- Responding to Change? We have only to look at the present international situation to understand how useless feedback is, and how powerful the strategy is of setting a course and sailing it. It works for our leaders: it will work for us. We can set our course into a Contract, then give the Customer what he needs. Their Collaboration isn't needed. What is needed is for them to accept what we, their leaders, provide for them. In this context, I must admit that XP and Agile had one thing right: there can be no Negotiation.

Courage is bad; Fear is good. We have evolved -- or were created -- as a small hairless creature in a world of big hairy problems and predators. Sure there is the occasional triumph of agility -- our conquering the mammoth may be an example, if there ever really were any mammoths. And if there weren't, that just proves that agility wasn't needed after all. As creatures with weak bodies and weak minds -- except for Bob Martin, whose brain is the size of a planet, those little bitty bright dots in the sky he talks about so much -- we cannot rely on Courage to bring us through. Here again, Agile and XP had a small part of the truth. As a Fearing creature, we do need to Respond to Change. The most effective way to do this is simply to Follow the Plan.

One thing XP got right: Respect is key. I'm talking about Respect for us, for IT professionals as leaders. It says right in the department charter that IT has the responsibility to provide leading-edge solutions to the company's problems, leading the company into the 21st century. A century is a long time -- take me for example. If our solutions are to last for a century or more, we have the responsibility to get the requirements nailed down pretty firmly, and come up with an enduring design for the ages, before attempting implementation. Using the 21st Century Waterfall Method, we professionals will at last gain the Respect that we deserve.

I look forward to following you all into that bright future. At least, that's my Plan, and I intend to Follow it.