I received a pleasant email from Tomas Rybing, praising The Nature of Software Development and telling me that it’s being read in a book circle he is part of. I hope this idea catches on, and that everyone buys a few copies directly from Prag, because Amazon royalties are about the square root of the ones from direct sales. But I digress.

Tomas wanted to ask about value, which Nature says is “what you want”. He wanted to get a better handle on that, as folks often do. Tomas devised a really attractive target chart, and proposed a way of assigning scores to things like business value, technical value, customer value, gut feel, and so on. Then you’d put the story on the chart where its score indicated.

I’ll leave it to him to publish his idea if he wants to. There were things I liked about the chart and things I might want to do differently. But charts are good, because they help us think.

Speaking of the scoring technique, I said something like this:

There is an old story of a young man who couldn’t decide which of two girls to marry. He was told:

For each girl, make a list of her good qualities and her bad ones. Score each girl on all qualities, giving greater weight to the qualities you care most about. Add up the girls’ scores. See which one has the higher score.

Then, tear up the list and marry the one you love.

In the end, that’s what we need to do. No scoring technique can work perfectly, but looking at the results can help us identify cases where the scoring technique is getting the wrong answer. Then, I wouldn’t bother to try to fix the technique: I’d just do the right thing.

So remember: the scoring technique is just a way we’re inventing to somehow represent what is in people’s minds and hearts. It is never possible for that to work, because our minds and hearts change all the time. The idea of being the Product Champion is to engage everyone’s minds and hearts, hear everything out, use any scoring techniques that seem interesting …

And then tear up the list and build the things you love.