Development Episode

A baseball game is divided into separate episodes, called innings.

...members of a WorkGroup have been selected based on needs inferred from the ImpliedRequirements.

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It's important to build on the collective strength of an entire team and to build a true gestalt from the team members.

Each member brings specific skills which will be important at some point in the development. For this we can be thankful. However, if we overemphasize a member's specific strength, we diminish everyone's general abilities, unnecessarily narrow the members focus to applying just that specialty, risk creating ambiguity as to who is responsible for non-specialized tasks, and discourage the learning of new skills.


Approach all development as a group activity as if no one had anything else to do. Expect the activity to follow the usual course of an episode where energy builds to a decision-making climax and then dissipates. At the height of the episode, purpose should be clear, terminology well understood, knowns well explored and unknowns identified. It is at exactly this point that individual strengths merge into a sort of common consciousness. Landmark decisions come easy. Breakthroughs are common. A creative act will have been shared.

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Besides yielding better decisions, the collective episode has very positive effects on the participants. Looking back, people often have trouble identifying the actual source of key ideas. Non-specialists gain invaluable insight into the thought processes of the specialist. A specialty is demystified, shared, spread throughout the group. A master of a specialty will realize that this sharing will not diminish one's own status within the group. As insight wells up in the master, he will delay slightly, expecting others to be close to the same insight, and knowing that their actual recognition experience will be of tremendous value to them and a small loss to himself. Seymour Papert called this an "Ah Ha" and admonished instructors not to "Steal the Ah Ha" [BibRef-Papert1980].

A version of this pattern first appeared in [BibRef-Cunningham1996].