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Part I: Group Development > Consensus and Compromise

Chapter 2. Consensus and Compromise

Getting the most from a software development team depends on the ability to build technical consensus among the professionals on the project. But why should it matter whether you and your office mate agree on the layout of an entry form or the best way to report error messages? Technical consensus is not about getting along together or feeling close to your fellow programmers. (Not that there is anything wrong with getting along or feeling good about each other.) Technical consensus is about taking full advantage of all the skills and experiences of every team member. It's about building better software.

Software professionals may understand good software, or at least claim to know it when they see it, but technical consensus is a lot less well understood among developers. Probably most software developers have had some bad experiences with what they thought was design by consensus. They'll tell you tales of brilliant ideas being lost in discussions, about compromising their artistic integrity, about six-month projects that took years, and about groups that settled for less than the best. Listen carefully and you'll realize that what they are talking about is not consensus at all, but compromise. What's the difference?


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