In game theory, the prisoner’s dilemma is a game in which two players may each “cooperate” with or “defect” (i.e. betray) the other player. In this game, as in all game theory, the only concern of each individual player (“prisoner”) is maximizing his/her own payoff, without any concern for the other player’s payoff. In the classic form of this game, cooperating is strictly dominated by defecting, so that the only possible equilibrium for the game is for all players to defect. In simpler terms, no matter what the other player does, one player will always gain a greater payoff by playing defect. Since in any situation playing defect is more beneficial than cooperating, all rational players will play defect.
The unique equilibrium for this game is a Pareto-suboptimal solution—that is, rational choice leads the two players to both play defect even though each player’s individual reward would be greater if they both played cooperate. In equilibrium, each prisoner chooses to defect even though both would be better off by cooperating, hence the dilemma.
—The prisoner dilemma is mainly about trust, cooperation and honest communication…
During an interview (back on June 2003) XP founder, Kent Beck was asked when XP is not appropriate?
Beck answered that “It’s more the social or business environment. If your organization punishes honest communications and you start to communicate honestly, you’ll be destroyed.”
So… if a team member cooperates (“communicates honestly”) while the environment competes (“punishes honest communications”).
In terms of the prisoner’s dilemma, this is the worst situation for the cooperator, and so, it is expected that no one will cooperate in such an environment.
Sounds familiar? Did you happen to work in a place where warnings (a.k.a. red flags) tagged you as a complainer? (also connected to the Stockdale Paradox post) or end up with assigned person tripping all over your problem space, trying to figure it out, while you try to implement the solution (When to approach your supervisor with a problem).
It is known fact that Agile methodologies enhances trust among team members by encouraging (as working standard) honest communication and cooperation with Daily Standup Meetings, TDD, Collective Ownership, Pair Programming, Sustainable Pace, Planning Game etc.
Leading me to claim that Agile leads teams into cooperation-cooperation situations and this is exactly where you want to be in your next police interrogation… ;-)
Don’t be caught…