XS – eXtreme Snack

I’d like to share a couple of thoughts about an aspect of XP – snack food and something else. According to XP in the development room there should always be plenty of snack food. Also Kent Beck in his Extreme Programming Explained – Embrace Change (you can read my opinions about the book, and the summary I wrote in Italian) recommends that for celebrating a milestone or some important achievements some food should be feed to the team.It happened sometimes to me to offer some food to the team the day after a milestone. Always I did what I felt, but I’m a bit dubious about using this as a technique for keeping the morale high.
If the milestone was difficult to reach and the team did some really hard work, then I think it would be correct for the ‘gold owner’ (to use an XP term) to give an amount of money (maybe small, but not too small to be insulting) to the team. So if you really want some food you can buy it ;-).
I mean using food as a compensation recalls quickly laboratory mice. “you find the exit of the labyrinth, good boy, here you are your piece of cheese”.
In the same way I’m against using T-shirts, games and other gadgets as milestone bonus. Not that I’m against receiving this stuff in general (it’s good to create a corporate spirit), I’m against the idea that my hard work, doing something difficult on time, what I brought as an added value to my being a software engineer, is rewarded with a gadget. It’s not professional. It would be like tipping a waiter for an excellent service with food rather than money.
And in fact the professional aspect of our work (programming and game development in general) is hardly recognized. I think that we who work in this field, should be the first to promote professionalism, letting our enthusiasm cooling down if needed.
One of the obstacle is that it is difficult for people to understand what it takes to become a good programmer. Also today, with many advanced development environments and tools, it is easy for many to write some automation and calling themselves programmers. As I recently read on DDJ magazine, this would be like that anyone who can keep a surgery knife in his hand and knows something of anatomy could be called a surgeon.
To close it up I would say: Real Programmers don’t accept food as compensation 🙂 (and watch out for too young surgeons).