December 12, 2006 Unit Testing

Tipping TDD

I have been working for some time on getting my organization to adopt TDD. I began with manipulation. That did not work, yet I remember it working so well for the characters in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. In an effort to find a better way I read How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This book helped me to begin to see that to influence people they must feel that you genuinely care about them. I read many other books along these lines as I have listed in Personal Growth Reading and More Personal Growth Reading. Recently I have been researching other aspects of how to instigate adoption of TDD. Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference and Albert-Laszlo Barabasi’s Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means offer information on how to spread an idea.

I work in a large organization. It would be very ineffective of me to try an persuade them each individualy. John C. Maxwell has a similar line of thinking. He describes two types of leaders, those that add to a company because they have followers and those that multiply because they raise up new leaders. Malcolm Gladwell identifies three key roles: the Connector, the Maven, and the Salesman. From the Tipping Point’s reading guide:

7. Connectors — the kinds of people who know everyone and possess special gifts for bringing the world together. … Connectors are defined by having many acquaintances, a sign of social power…

8. Maven — means one who accumulates knowledge and who has information on a lot of different products or prices or places. …

9. Salesmen — are the select group of people with the skills to persuade us when we are unconvinced of what we are hearing. …

Paul Revere for example was a Connector. Other things like context and message quality contributed to Paul Reveres success besides his being a Connector. Gladwell points out that Mavens are likely early adopters helping to translate the funk of the innovator into something that the rest of the world can make use of.

Depending on the size of your organization/project all of these types of adopters as well as Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen will be present. Identifying who is who can go a long way to helping you tip the adoption of TDD. This seems very similar to John C. Maxwell’s multiplying leader. Enlist the Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen to help magnify your instigation. In Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence Daniel Goleman identifies several types of leaders (from, the bolding is mine):

He outlines six distinct leadership styles, each one springing from different components of emotional intelligence. Each style has a distinct effect on the working atmosphere of a company, division, or team, and, in turn, on its financial performance. The styles, by name and brief description alone, will resonate with anyone who leads, is led, or, as is the case with most of us, does both. Coercive leaders demand immediate compliance. Authoritative leaders mobilize people toward a vision. Affiliative leaders create emotional bonds and harmony. Democratic leaders build consensus through participation. Pacesetting leaders expect excellence and self-direction. And coaching leaders develop people for the future.

Knowing who is proficient in the visionary, affiliative, democratic, and coaching leadership styles can help in selecting your team of contaminators.

All these characteristics contribute to the strength of a persons fitness. Albert-Laszlo Barabasi describes how nodes have a fitness. Fitness in this context refers to the strength of the link between two nodes; nodes being people and the link between their relationship. The relevance here is in evaluating who is likely to be infectious. Who has a lot of links as well as links that are likely to infect with a desire to adopt TDD. To be clear the message plays a significant role in ones ability to infect. Malcolm Gladwell puts it well: if Paul Revere “had instead gone on that midnight ride to tell people he was having a sale on the pewter mugs at his silversmith shop, even he, with all his enormous personal gifts, could not have galvanized the Massachusetts countryside”.

So far I have focused on who is most infectious. The message needs to be infectious as well. Everett M. Rogers identified these aspects of the message as having the most influence on the rate of adoption:

  • the practice’s perceived advantage or benefit
  • riskiness of implementation
  • ease of practice – complexity of the practice
  • immediacy of benefits
  • observability
  • trialability
  • price
  • extent of behavioural changes required
  • return on investment

Constructing a message that addresses these concerns and communicating it through your infectious hubs (those nodes with the best fitness) will greatly increase the chance of TDD reaching the tipping point in your organization.

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4 to “Tipping TDD”


  1. Tipping TDD…

    You’ve been kicked (a good thing) – Trackback from…

  1. says...

    Tipping TDD…

    You’ve been kicked (a good thing) – Trackback from…

  2. Jeremy Miller says...


    Only the Black Ajah would use Manipulation to get their way.


  3. Brandon Hunt says...

    What about that time that Verna was using something like Manipulation on the other sisters in the Aiel camp? Verna’s not Black Ajah… or at least we don’t think she is.. :D

  4. jflowers says...

    There is an extreme amount of manipulation on everyone’s part in The Wheel of Time. I was thinking most specifically of the game of houses. Of course I viewed this in a way where my virtues were heightened and everyone else was vilified.

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