XP Tip of the Week: Courage

Sometimes courage manifests as a bias to action. If you know what the problem is, do something about it1.

This excerpt comes from a section on “Courage”. I think it’s a really important aspect that doesn’t always align with the typical meaning of the word. This reminds me of every time I’ve overheard a conversation that involves some decision that will probably turn out “incorrect”, but didn’t do anything about it. For example, we’ve all probably overheard this one:

Bob: “So the AC says that they need x functionality on the homepage…”
Joe: “Wait, doesn’t having y functionality on the homepage conflict with x functionality?”
Bob: “Ya I guess, but I mean, the AC is right there, it’d be easy to implement, I say we do it.”
Joe: “Hrm, I guess, we can always ask them tomorrow at standup.”

Here I think it takes courage to pipe up and say “Hey, why don’t you guys call the client, just ask em right now”. It’s really easy to just keep working away and ignore what’s happening, but that bias to action is pretty cowardly when you know what’s wrong.

1 Beck, K (2005). Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change (Second Edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ. Pearson Education, Inc.

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