Exploration Through Example

Example-driven development, Agile testing, context-driven testing, Agile programming, Ruby, and other things of interest to Brian Marick
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Wed, 14 Apr 2004

Gift exchange

[Update: added link to Marcel Mauss's The Gift. Thanks to Finlay Cannon for correcting the misspelling that made me unable to find it.]

The gift exchange, as opposed to barter or contractual exchange, is particularly well suited to social systems in which great reliance is placed on the ability of well-socialized persons to operate independently of formal controls.

W.O. Hagstrom, The Scientific Community, p. 21

An agile team is such a social system. A company within which agile projects flourish might be one too. What kind of gifts are exchanged?

Given my niche, I'm interested in gift exchange between testers and other team members. It seems to me that the gift the testers (at least those on the left side of the matrix) give is to increase the velocity of the team. They help the programmers produce more features per iteration, enhancing their credibility, giving them more scope to do the kinds of things they want to do. They help the customer demonstrate more features per iteration to the interest groups hovering over her shoulder, thus enhancing her credibility etc.

But what gift do the testers get in return? Testability support. A feeling of being more central to the team. Influence into the shape of the product. And...? I'm giving three talks this year about the role of testers on agile projects. I want to concentrate on the team support half of that role (as opposed to the product critique half). Thinking about how testers fit into a gift economy may help me.

## Posted at 07:20 in category /agile [permalink] [top]

About Brian Marick
I consult mainly on Agile software development, with a special focus on how testing fits in.

Contact me here: marick@exampler.com.




Agile Testing Directions
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