Two Critical Tools

The editor in question was Brian Marick, one of the authors of the Agile Manifesto. Marick wrote an intriguing piece some time ago called “Six years later: What the Agile Manifesto left out.” (See References.) In it he discusses four values not mentioned in the Agile Manifesto: skill, discipline, ease, and joy.

Skill and discipline are necessary, of course, but less interesting for the purposes of this chapter, because there are arguably objective and defensible (even if poorly executed) ways to measure both skill and discipline.

Of far more interest are ease and joy. The only possible way to evaluate the ease and joy on a software development project is with purely aesthetic criteria. Could we discuss 99.9999% ease in any sort of rational sense? Or a maturity model for joy? Of course not; it is ludicrous on the face of it.

And yet Marick values ease and joy so highly that he continues to speak about them in conference keynotes, and to write about them. But how to evaluate them? Critical tools from philosophy and psychology seem very promising.

The New Criticism was a highly influential movement in literary criticism from the 1940s to the 1960s. Although less popular today, I like to use the New Criticism as an example, because the criteria for deciding the value of a work’s aesthetic is so easy to describe: a work is valuable to the extent that it has unity, complexity, and intensity. Ease could be evaluated in this way.

Every aspect of the project should be easy. ...

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