Playing to Win

Dec 11th, 2002 by Tony in Questioning XP

I have to question the sanity of any organization that would assemble a team of novices and then claim that it is playing to win. There is a subtle mismatch between word and deed. Regardless of the software  development methodology approach selected, a team of novices is going to struggle and have a much lower probability of success than a more
experienced team. An experienced coach might be able to mitigate the worst of the risks for a small group of novices, such that they quickly learn from their mistakes, but my guess is that it would be better to have the coach take a month or two to train the novices before starting the project.

Yes, you could plausibly suggest that the collaborative practices of XP would allow a team of novices to learn faster than a traditional team of novices, but that avoids the question of why use a team of novices in the first place. Low-experience teams are hazardous to the health of any project, especially if the team members are convinced that because they know objects, design patterns, UML, and Java they are bound to be successful. Knowledge of these things helps, but there is a lot more to a successful software development team than a bunch of individuals who happen to know some esoteric technology.

— Pete McBreen, Questioning Extreme Programming, Chapter 18

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