Craftsmanship over Execution

Banquet: Uncle Martin SpeechI have not been able to blog in a timely manner regarding Robert C Martin’s Keynote at Agile 2008. I must admit that I was not really expecting so much energy, presence on scene, and fun. Not to mention his shorts (how could he stand the A/C?! I guess you get used to it after decades in North America).

Besides all the fun and small talk, Bob Martin actually had something to say. His point was to introduce, half-jokingly, a 5th statement to the Agile Manifesto (most readers will know that he was part of the seminal retreat at Snowbird; in fact, I believe, he was the one originally with the idea of getting those people together):

Craftsmanship over Crap

which he subsequently corrected into

Craftsmanship over Execution

(see why he decided to alter his proposal)

His point is that we should always insist to act as professional and insist that well-engineer projects are superior. Yes, there will be cases where executing (ie. delivering early, with little regard to code quality) will be more important. But in general, we should resist simply delivering projects quickly.

A couple of quotes to drive his point home:

  • “The only way to go fast is to go well”
  • “TDD is not controversial any longer… especially if the tests are written first” ;-)

Bob Martin also had fun words about methods. Here is one (hoping I haven’t missed too much):

“Scrum is the Open Space of processes. The bugs that come are the right bugs. The specs that come are the right specs… and the managers should all be fired!”

Unfortunately, I forget what he said exactly about eXtreme Programming. It was around the lines of paraphrasing the 10 Commandments or something: “Thou shall pair program!” “Thou shall have common code ownership!”

Making fun of both processes was just to drive his point that neither were self-sufficient. Rather, they would benefit from being used together.
Bob Martin, Uncle Bob, was able to deliver a fun, content-packed speech. This was a surprise to me, not having met him before. I hope you’ll have a chance to see him in action as well.

About Eric Lefevre-Ardant

Independent technical consultant.
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