Religious compared to what?

At the EuroSTAR conference I attended a presentation on I don’t want to be a tester any more. I blogged about this earlier, this is a reaction to the answers to my questions I got after the talk.

After her mediocre talk on combining business analysts with testers and call them Expectation Engineering. Afterwards I raised the question whether she was aware that Agile practitioners found this out more than two years ago. Take for example Gojko Adzic‘s Bridging the Communication and Specification by Example. They both deal with bringing the programming and business analyst role together. But these ideas go beyond that. They also include the programmers into the discussions, and focus on advancing the whole team that is developing software. From this perspective Anne Mette’s approach seems interesting, but not enough to me.

Anne Mette replied to my question that she was aware about this. I had to follow-up on this by asking whether she was basically selling Agile ideas to waterfall people. The problem with this is that she does not seem to understand the underlying implications of Agile. Combining roles makes sense when combined with other practices. Without a whole team approach, the Expectation Engineers are likely to keep something for them, since communication leads to some overhead. The hand-off between Expectation Engineers and programmers is not fluent at this point. That is why Agile practitioners combine this with self-managing teams as well. Without the self-managing aspect of team-building, the combination of roles is dangerous, since it puts Expectation Engineers in a better position rather than supporting the whole team to advance.

Finally, Anne Mette replied that she sells these ideas less religious than Agile people. I didn’t follow up on this, because it just felt stupid to do so for me. Having said this, Agile people may seem religious to some extent. That is also an observation I made. But religious compared to what? IF I compare Agile teachings to the ISO program, ISTQB certification, or any other of the traditional systems currently making lots of money, I claim that Agile is teaching things way less religious than any of these programs. Beyond that, Agile people don’t seem to sell snake oil to their clients, either.

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5 thoughts on “Religious compared to what?”

  1. At the heart of all religions is faith. This involves taking some unprovable unknowable statements and believing them without evidence. I’m not sure agile asks people to do this.

    Agile was devloped as a reaction to real world problems so is well suited to the real world. Religion claims another world exists outside the real world. The problem area addressed and the scope of religion is rather larger than that of agile.

    The place where agile resembles religion is that is comes with a Manifesto.

    * Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
    * Working software over comprehensive documentation
    * Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
    * Responding to change over following a plan

    However unlike religion manifestos the effectiveness of these can be investigated using empirical and deductive methods.

    Basically Sw development projects are people working with people working with technology. And people are both the hardest to control but the most important. Changing the name of a “Tester” to “Expectation Engineers” is not really going to make much difference if the involved people dont change behaviours, think about what they are doing, work as a team and adapt to the most effective way of working regardless of titles or development processes used.

  2. “Expectation engineer” has the sound of somebody who’s purpose is to focus on Expectation Management. The practice of Expectation Management is generally called for when a supplier suspects that the expectations of the customer will exceed what the supplier will be able to deliver. The term ‘expectation engineer’ doesn’t give me a warm fuzzy feeling that we are going to delight our customer, just disappoint him less.

    Furthermore I am of the opinion that one should strive to lessen the role of specific testers and integrate that into the developers’ responsibilities. This ‘expectation engineer’ doesn’t sound like a step in that direction.

  3. Religion – Big word. Agile may be a religion in the following meaning:

    “We believe people to be good, responsible, trustful and willing.”

    This may not be a shared believe with everybody. Think about it.

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