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Dealing with an emergency request every now and then is fine—it’s a great way for the team to be responsive. On the other hand, an emergency in every iteration means that something is wrong.
After the second or third iteration in a row with an emergency request, take a look at what’s happening.Perhaps your on-site customers need to be more disciplined about release planning. Perhaps stakeholders need stronger reminders that requests can wait until the next iteration. Often the requests
will die down as your organization adapts to the iteration heartbeat.
In some cases, however, the team has a legitimate need to provide ongoing support for ad hoc requests. If this is true for your team, sacrifice a programmer to be the batman.
“Batman” is a military term as well as a comic book character: it refers to a soldier assigned to deal with chores so that officers can focus on officering. On an XP team, the batman deals with organizational emergencies and support requests so the other programmers can focus on programmering. The batman has no other duties: he doesn’t work on stories or the iteration plan.
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