Passion

Brian Marick, in a blog entry that is quite interesting on its own, points to a very provocative article about group think, German philosophy, and the old Saturday Night Live gang. It got me thinking about Extreme Programming and the “Agile” methods. Have I mentioned passion lately?

Grampa Speaks

I remember way back when Extreme Programming and all this agile stuff was new and edgy. At the same time, it hearkened further back, to times when we had all written great software, responding to our customer’s needs with some fantastic kind of creativity and team spirit. All the good things from our best days were there, and there were new things as well, to cancel out some of the bad things that had always seemed to be a necessary part of the good.

A number of us were writing about these ideas. We used to get together to talk, argue and think about what was going on and how it could change the world. For a time, there was even a book in our mind’s eye, to be written by Kent Beck, Ward Cunningham, Martin Fowler, Ken Auer. They were even going to let me be part of it.

We met and corresponded with all the current names in Agile, and with many more people who were interested and excited. New names arrived, contributed, explained, questioned, built on to the ideas.

There was the famous Snowbird meeting where we wrote the Agile Manifesto. Look at that list of names, all together in one room for a few days, hammering out an understanding of what we were about. We built on one another, argued with one another. It was marvelous.

Quickly, what we were doing polarized the development world. Great contributors came out of the woodwork, some of whom came to Snowbird, and some of whom came along later. The movement spawned books, sessions at major conferences, and international conferences of its own. We had news groups, mailing lists. We even had serious detractors who were there to explain that the ideas were too radical, couldn’t possibly work, that we were deranged if not evil. Strange days, indeed. Most peculiar, mama.

It was great! We had a fire and an energy that was exciting, uplifting, energetic, all good things. We had a mission and a piece of the truth.

They always do. We’re supposed to embrace change, but there are some kinds of change that I don’t care to embrace.

  • The Towers fell, and the economy with them.
  • Differences, jealousy and the inability of major egos to come together divided the growing movement into sects.
  • The need to differentiate one’s product, to get enough business to survive, created more differences, more name brands. Even a new conference.
  • There is probably a whole sublist of problems with my name on them. I’ll leave those to you to list.

The result of all this was that we formed into small communities and often barricaded ourselves and fought against each other, rather than against the real enemy, which is the creation of poor software that meets no one’s needs very well, through the exploitation of everyone involved, and with their tacit and often explicit complicity. That’s the damn enemy, not your choice of Beck, Cockburn, Highsmith, Hill, Jeffries, Martin, Wells, whoever you might list.

I was born for passion, passion in my work and the people relating to it. I have great success in building teams with a mission and getting things done, and some great failures in the trying. I’ve had people love me and had people hate me, and while I prefer the love by a wide margin, I prefer either to indifference. Because I’m not about making indifference, I’m about making a difference.

That’s what I thought this movement was about: making a difference. That’s what I want it to be about: making a difference.

I’m tired of leaders who wander off and get new acolytes when the previous batch don’t precisely toe the line.

I’m tired of people sniping at people for being judgmental or for taking a strong position, or even for telling the other guy that he’s a bloody idiot. The passion is where all the really good stuff is. The passion is the difference between good enough and really wonderful.

I’m tired of petty differentiations in what we talk about that seem aimed more at “my business” than “my way of speaking about our common beliefs”.

Passion

I was born for passion, passion in my work and the people relating to it. I have great success in building teams with a mission and getting things done, and some great failures in the trying. I’ve had people love me and had people hate me, and while I prefer the love by a wide margin, I kind of prefer either to indifference. Because I’m not about making indifference, I’m about making a difference.

That’s what I think this movement is about: making a difference. That’s what I want it to be about: making a difference.

Here’s what I try to be, and what I like to find in those around me:

  • I want to stay the course with the people who converse with me, not just drift away as if no longer interested.
  • I want to argue passionately without rancor, let you call me names in the morning and drink in peace and affection with me that night.
  • I want to hold others in the true respect that allows them to be what they are, act like they will, while working as hard as possible to influence them to try other things.
  • I want to give my ideas away, confident that my little gift will come back to me manyfold.
  • I want to try every way I can to communicate with my colleagues, to get my ideas across and to get their ideas back in return.
  • I want to honor the passion that people feel, to honor the strongly held beliefs and ideas of others as much as I honor my own
  • I want to crash-test those beliefs and ideas hard against each other, confident that even better ideas will come out of the testing.
  • I want to assume that we do this from love, that we care about each other, and that we welcome the crackle of real passion, real work, the real interaction of ideas.

I do my best to be that kind of person. And I want to be with other people like that. Thanks for being around.

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Written by: Ron Jeffries

Categorization: Articles

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