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Value is What You Like

by Ron Jeffries, 27 March 2013 | The Agile Blogosphere

This post is from by Ron Jeffries. Click here to see the original post in full.

In the book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, Robert Pirsig’s protagonist, “Phaedrus” is exploring the idea of Quality. At one point he reaches the statement: “Quality is what you like”. 

In Agile Software Development — as in many other realms — we consider the notion of “value”. We make decisions about what to do, or what not to do, based on “value”. We do things sooner if they are of higher “value”, later if their “value” is lower. What do we mean by value?

Value is what you like.

You may at first feel that this statement is too Zen, or that it has no meaning at all. Let’s explore here what we might mean by value, and how we work with it. My aim is to help you see that value is in fact, what you like.

Agile methods ask us to choose the order in which we do things based on “value”. Sometimes we might say “business value”, or “customer value”, as if these qualifications helped. In a way, they do help, because they may cause us to think about things we value in terms of “good for the business” or “good for the customer”. But these are far from the only kinds of value we might consider. Let’s look at just a few more.

We might be choosing a strategic direction for our product. We decide that we need information about what users would prefer, so we produce some prototypes of the product and show...

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