“Reuse” and the design principles based on this concept are generally recognised in software engineering. And yet the promise of being able to build software with reusable building blocks, like a game of lego, has, over the years, been a disappointment. The reality developers are struggling against each and every day is that developing new features is a journey of exploration that cannot be controlled nor predicted. New lines of application code will always need to be written. The lack of reusable modules (modules which can be used in predictable, similar contexts) and recombinable modules (modules which can be used in unpredictable, diverse and different contexts) makes the software system’s codebase continue to grow. As such, developing new functionality becomes more complex and requires more effort and higher costs.

Developing even the smallest functionality involves making thousands of teeny tiny decisions. What do you do when the cursor blinks and you know you have to do something, but you’re not sure what? You can see software as a “thing” to observe and onto which to impose your decisions. The principles of traditional and agile design are based on inspecting and assessing certain external properties of the software system (e.g. coupling, cohesion, responsibility), thus reinforcing the idea of software being a “thing”. Or you can see software development as a relational exchange with the software system. Like between humans, having a useful exchange with your software system means knowing when to open up and look for relationship with the other and when to exert control on it to, for example, protect and favour exchange.

Contrary to what you might think, you can use your relational capacity even when the “other” is a product you are developing, software for instance. This is the idea behind Recombining Relational Production (RRP), the approach I’ve been developing and applying since 2008. RRP shows you how to learn to recognise, favour and develop your relational capability. When you recognise the “other” in the software you’re developing and know how to make a conscious decision between two types of response – exerting control or looking for relationship – at each teeny tiny design decision, you can choose to bring about decombination. In this talk I will present a real example of RRP. I will show you how to “decombine” software by consciously applying control and relationship decision after decision. I will explain how to obtain software modules that can be used to create value in different and unpredictable contexts. Lastly, I will show you how using decombination and more generally RRP lets you deliver more features with less effort, in a more controllable and sustainable way.

Francesco Cirillo Cirillo Consulting GmbH, Deutschland

Francesco is currently working on three new books, “The Waaaaaah! Decision Making Model”, “Recombining Relational Production”, and “Managing Software Development with RRP”. In the 1980s, Francesco created the Pomodoro Technique. In the 1990s, he became known as an expert mentor of Object-Oriented Software Engineering and established his reputation as one of the pioneers of XP and Agile Methods. Over the years, Francesco has successfully trained and mentored hundreds of managers and developers throughout Europe on issues of productivity and the evolution of software.