Kent Becks 3X Model and Quality (a quality coach perspective)

Kent Beck describes three different phases of a product, Explore, Expand and Extract. This article looks at quality strategy for each phase to maximise value to both customers and the company.

3X Model by Kent Beck sketch by Talia @sketchimgSM
sketch by Talia @sketchimgSM 

In his article, the product development triathlon, Kent Beck proposes that as a product/company evolves, value-maximising behaviour also changes.

The 3X model he uses identifies three distinct phases in a product lifecycle; Explore, Expand and Extract. In 'Explore', we anticipate low payoff and low customer success while we experiment and 'discover' our value add. But on hitting that flex point and discovering value, we hope to expedite payoff and customer success quickly. 'Explore' is our growth phase. And finally, in the 'extract phase', where customer success is static, value is maintained through efficiencies that provide the desired payoff.

Kent Beck best describes it as follows:  

"Explore–the risky search for a viable return on a viable investment. Successful exploration is unpredictable, so the highest expected value strategy is to reduce the cost of experimentation and put a little investment into many, uncorrelated experiments. If you’re lucky, one of these experiments turns out to be unexpectedly successful, which leads to:..
Expand–now things are going nuts (think Pokemon Go or Facebook Live Video). Unanticipated bottlenecks appear. All you have time for is to eliminate the next bottleneck just before it derails you. Once growth becomes routine, it’s time to:
Extract–now the shape of the problem and solution spaces are clear. One euro in equals three euros out. Playbooks emerge: here’s how you roll out the service in a new city. Economies of scale matter: delivering the service at lower cost is more profitable."

Value is measured through payoff and customer success and should follow a growth curve that is not linear but s-shaped. Understanding and having reasonable expectations of value per phase allows us to maximise the behaviour that drives such value.

According to Jerry Weinberg, value and quality go hand in hand 1. By extension, quality will follow a similar trajectory. If we know our product/company's phase, our quality strategy can adopt appropriate behaviour for that context.

The rest of the article describes possible quality strategies for each phase.

1"Quality is value to some person" Gerry Weinberg -Quality Software Management: Systems Thinking