XP QoW: Responsibility is accepted, not given

The third in my series of quotes from Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change by Kent Beck. Once a week I post a quote from XP that I think is really important to consider when developing software. This is from the end of Chapter 8:

Accepted Responsibility-No single action takes the life out of a team or a person more than being told what to do, especially if the job is clearly impossible. Primate dominance displays work only so long in getting people to act like they are going along. Along the way, a person told what to do will find a thousand ways of expressing their frustration, most of the them to the detriment of the team and many of them to the detriment on the person.

The alternative is that responsibility be accepted, not given. This does not mean that you always do exactly what you feel like doing. You are part of a team, and if the team comes to the conclusion that a certain task needs doing, someone will choose to do it, no matter how odious.”

There are two key things to listen to in this excerpt. First always work with your direct reports to define, estimate and plan their work. If they have helped craft the goal they will feel much more ownership toward completing on-time and at high quality. Secondly, if you have buy-in from everyone on the team then they will want to do everything needed to complete the project.

The job of the manager is to pick the destination and make sure everyone is rowing towards. Everything else is up to the team.

Looks for more XP Quotes of the Week to be forthcoming.

Past quotes:



  1. XP QoW: Programmers don’t know anything « Brent Sordyl’s Blog - April 2, 2008

    […] XP QoW: Responsibility is accepted, not given – March 26, 2008 […]

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