Broderick Crawford, Carlos Castro
Pontificia Universidad Cat
olica de Valpara
ıso, Valpara
ıso, Chile
Universidad T
ecnica Federico Santa Mar
ıa, Valpara
ıso, Chile
Eric Monfroy
LINA, Universit
e de Nantes, Nantes, France
Software Engineering, Agile Development, Knowledge Management, Creativity, Optimization Algorithms.
In this paper we present important human and social factors in relation with the development of algorithms to
solve combinatorial problems using different techniques. We fix some concepts from knowledge management
and software engineering as applied developing optimization algorithms, solvers and metaheuristics.
The development of algorithms to solve optimization
problems requires more knowledge than any single
person can possess. It requires the collaboration of
numerous individuals with complementary skills. The
necessary resources to solve problems are distributed
among the stakeholders and creative solutions emerge
out of collaborative work. Creative thinking is an area
that has been ignored in the development of Optimiza-
tion Algorithms. Nevertheless, its successful applica-
tion in the real world depends on a high degree of
creativity and innovation (Vidal, 2005). The develop-
ment of Optimization Algorithms and Metaheuristics
to solve Combinatorial Problems assumes the same
connotations it assumes in the field of Software Engi-
neering. Then, the software development life cycle of
them might be quite diverse and different models from
other fields can be appropriate. This paper captures
our experience with valuable concepts from Knowl-
edge Management and Software Engineering applied
when we are developing algorithms.
In Software Engineering, the traditional ap-
proaches (often referred to as plan-driven, task-based
or Tayloristic), like the waterfall model and its vari-
ances, facilitate knowledge sharing primarily through
documentation. They also promote usage of role
based teams and detailed plans of the entire software
development life-cycle. It shifts the focus from in-
dividuals and their creative abilities to the processes
themselves. In contrary, agile methods emphasise and
value individuals and interactions over processes.
The agile principles and values have realized the
importance of collaboration and interaction in the
software development and, by other hand, creative
work commonly involves collaboration in some form
and it can be understood as an interaction between an
individual and a sociocultural context, the study of the
potential of techniques to foster creativity in software
engineering is a very interesting issue (Gu and Tong,
There are few studies reported on the importance
of creativity in software development. In manage-
ment and business, researchers have done much work
about creativity and obtained evidence that the em-
ployees who had appropriate creativity characteris-
tics, worked on complex, challenging jobs, and were
supervised in a supportive, noncontrolling fashion,
produced more creative work. Since human creativity
is thought as the source to resolve complex problem
or create innovative products, one possibility to im-
prove the software development process is to design
a process which can stimulate the creativity of devel-
We believe that in Optimization Algorithms de-
velopment projects, a better understanding of some
value and interdisciplinary concepts from Creative
Solving Problem (Vidal, 2005) and Knowledge Man-
agement (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995) offers impor-
tant insights about the use of Software Engineering
Crawford B., Castro C. and Monfroy E. (2007).
In Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems - ISAS, pages 636-639
DOI: 10.5220/0002407006360639
The main argument to Knowledge Management in
software engineering is that it is a creative and knowl-
edge intensive activity. Software development is a
process where every person involved has to make a
large number of decisions and individual knowledge
has to be shared and leveraged at a project and or-
ganization level, and this is exactly what KM pro-
poses. People in such groups must collaborate, com-
municate, and coordinate their work, which makes
knowledge management a necessity. In software de-
velopment one can identify two types of knowledge:
Knowledge embedded in the products or artifacts,
since they are the result of highly creative activi-
ties and Meta-knowledge, that is knowledge about
the products and processes. Some of the sources
of knowledge (artifacts, objects, components, pat-
terns, templates and containers) are stored in elec-
tronic form.
However, the majority of knowledge is tacit, resid-
ing in the brains of the employees. A way to address
this problem can be to develop a knowledge sharing
culture, as well as technology support for knowledge
management. There are several reasons to believe
that knowledge management for software engineering
would be easier to implement than in other organiza-
tions: technology is not be intimidating to software
engineers and they believe the tools will help them do
a better job; all artifacts are already in electronic form
and can easily be distributed and shared; and the fact
that knowledge sharing between software engineers
already does occur to a large degree in many success-
ful software collaborative projects (Rus and Lindvall,
A new group of software development methodolo-
gies has appeared over the last few years. For a
while these were known as lightweight methodolo-
gies, but now the accepted term is Agile method-
ologies. The most common of them are: eX-
treme Programming, the Crystal Family, Agile Mod-
eling, Adaptive Software Development, Scrum, Fea-
ture Driven Development, Dynamic System Develop-
ment Method (Fowler, 2001). There exist many varia-
tions, but all of them share the common principles and
core values specified in the Agile Manifesto (Chau
and Maurer, 2004). Through this work they have
come to value individuals and interactions over pro-
cesses and tools. Working software over compre-
hensive documentation. Customer collaboration over
contract negotiation. Responding to change over fol-
lowing a plan. These new methods attempt a useful
compromise between no process and too much pro-
cess, providing just enough process to gain a reason-
able payoff. The result of all of this is that agile meth-
ods have some significant differences with the former
engineering methods (Fowler, 2001): Agile methods
are adaptive rather than predictive and they are people
oriented rather than process oriented.
Most agile methodologies assume that change is
inevitable, these methodologies have the ability to ad-
dress variance and adaptability within the processes.
In (Highsmith and Cockburn, 2001) Highsmith and
Cockburn have fixed the role of creativity in agile
teams assuming a world view that organizations are
complex adaptive systems. A complex adaptive sys-
tem is one in which decentralized, independent in-
dividuals interact in selforganizing ways, guided by
a set of simple, generative rules, to create innova-
tive, emergent results. Agile methods offer generative
rules, a minimum set of things you must do under all
situations to generate appropriate practices for special
situations. A team that follows generative rules de-
pends on individuals and their creativity to find ways
to solve problems as they arise. Creativity, not volu-
minous written rules, is the only way to manage com-
plex software development problems and diverse sit-
There are many definitions of creativity, we use some
ideas from (Franken, 2002): Creativity is defined as
the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alterna-
tives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving
problems, communicating with others, and entertain-
ing ourselves and others. There are three reasons why
people are motivated to be creative:
need for novel, varied, and complex stimulation
need to communicate ideas and values
need to solve problems
In order to be creative, you need to be able to view
things in new ways or from a different perspective.
Among other things, you need to be able to generate
new possibilities or new alternatives. Tests of creativ-
ity measure not only the number of alternatives that
people can generate but the uniqueness of those alter-
natives. the ability to generate alternatives or to see
things uniquely does not occur by change; it is linked
to other, more fundamental qualities of thinking, such
as flexibility, tolerance of ambiguity or unpredictabil-
ity, and the enjoyment of things heretofore unknown.
Toward an understanding of creativity in organiza-
tions, the use of a creativity management framework
may be useful. Amabile (Amabile, 1996) had pro-
posed a theory for the development of creativity. In
her framework, creativity is hypothesized as a conflu-
ence of three kinds of resources:
creativity-relevant skills (across domains)
domain-relevant knowledge and skills (domain-
task motivation
Domain-relevant resources include factual knowl-
edge, technical skills and special talents in the do-
main. Creativity-relevant resources include appropri-
ate cognitive style, personality trait, conducive work
style and knowledge of strategies for generating novel
ideas. In specific, the major features of the appropri-
ate cognitive style are the preference of breaking per-
ceptual set and cognitive sets, keeping response op-
tions open, suspending judgment, etc. Furthermore,
Amabile had proposed that intrinsic motivation was
conducive to creativity; whereas extrinsic motivation
was detrimental. Concerning the nurturing of intrin-
sic motivation, she and others highlighted the impor-
tance of promoting a playful attitude in the environ-
ment. Persons who are able to maintain playfulness,
may continue to focus on the interest and enjoyment
they derived from the task. They are more likely to
keep their intrinsic motivation, even under external
The importance of creativity has been investi-
gated in all the phases of software development pro-
cess (Glass, 1995; Gu and Tong, 2004) and focused in
the requirements engineering too (Robertson, 2005;
Maiden and Robertson, 2005; Mich et al., 2005).
Nevertheless, the use of techniques to foster creativ-
ity in requirements engineering is still shortly investi-
gated. It is not surprising that the role of communica-
tion and interaction is central in many of the creativ-
ity techniques. The most popular creativity technique
used for requirements identification is the classical
brainstorming and more recently, role-playing-based
scenarios, storyboard-illustrated scenarios, simulat-
ing and visualizing have been applied in an attempt
to bring more creativity to requirements elicitation.
These techniques try to address the problem of iden-
tifying the viewpoints of all the stakeholders (Mich
et al., 2005). However, in requirements engineering
the answers do not arrive by themselves, it is neces-
sary to ask, observe, discover, and increasingly create
requirements. If the goal is to build competitive and
imaginative products, we must make creativity part of
the requirements process. Indeed, the importance of
creative thinking is expected to increase over the next
decade (Maiden and Gizikis, 2001).
The industrial revolution replaced agriculture as
the major economic activity, and then information
technology replaced industrial production. Now, the
information technology will be replaced with a new
dominant economic activity focusing on creativity:
The Conceptual Age. According to (Pink, 2005) we
are moving from High Tech to High Touch and High
Concept. The skill of storytelling is now a mandatory
business skill. The workers in highest demand will
be those with great social skills and a strong drawing
portfolio. With the prevalence of search engines, facts
are abundant and free, what is in demand now is the
ability to put those facts in order and in context. The
shift of IT organizations toward the creative sector
and companies striving to design innovative products
that combine and use existing technologies in unan-
ticipated ways is beginning to justify this prediction.
In (Robertson, 2005; Robertson, 2002) very in-
teresting open questions are proposed: Is inventing
part of the requirements activity? It is if we want
to advance. So who does the inventing? We cant
rely on the customer to know what to invent. The
designer sees his task as deriving the optimal solu-
tion to the stated requirements. We cant rely on pro-
grammers because theyre too far removed from the
clients work to understand what needs to be invented.
Requirements analysts are ideally placed to innovate.
They understand the business problem, have updated
knowledge of the technology, will be blamed if the
new product doesnt please the customer, and know if
inventions are appropriate to the work being studied.
In short, requirements analysts are the people whose
skills and position allows, indeed encourages, creativ-
In (Boden, 1990) the author, a leading authority on
cognitive creativity, identifies basic types of creative
processes: exploratory creativity explores a possible
solution space and discovers new ideas, combinato-
rial creativity combines two or more ideas that already
exist to create new ideas, and transformational cre-
ativity changes the solution space to make impossible
things possible. Then, most Requirements Engineer-
ing activities are exploratory, acquiring and discover-
ing requirements and knowledge about the problem
domain. And the Requirements Engineering practi-
tioners have explicitly focused on combinatorial and
transformational creativity.
ICEIS 2007 - International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
This paper was focused on some aspects of Knowl-
edge Management and Creativity in the context of
Optimization Algorithms development. The develop-
ment of Optimization Algorithms is a field well suited
for creative studies, since it is a creative activity where
the problems often can only be solved through an iter-
ative process faciliting Knowledge Management and
exploration of new ideas.
Agile methods emphasis on people, communities
of practice, communication, and collaboration in fa-
cilitating the practice of sharing tacit knowledge at a
team level. They also foster a team culture of knowl-
edge sharing, mutual trust and care. Agile develop-
ment is not defined by a small set of practices and
techniques. Agile development defines a strategic ca-
pability, a capability to create and respond to change,
a capability to balance flexibility and structure, a ca-
pability to draw creativity and innovation out of a de-
velopment team, and a capability to lead organiza-
tions through turbulence and uncertainty. They rough
out blueprints (models), but they concentrate on creat-
ing working software. They focus on individuals and
their skills and on the intense interaction of develop-
ment team members among themselves and with cus-
tomers and management.
The agile principles and values have recognized
the importance of collaboration and interaction in the
software development team. Because creative work
commonly involves collaboration the study of tech-
niques to foster creativity in software engineering is
very interesting. Agile process to be helpful to gen-
erate novel and useful product. On the contrary, the
discipline based work are perceived to be useless to
produce novel products. The difference between them
is that creative work can motivate the generation of
something new.
Software development is a creative and knowl-
edge intensive process that involves the integration of
a variety of business and technical knowledge, an un-
derstanding from a Knowledge Management perspec-
tive offers important insights for designing and imple-
menting Optimization Algorithms and Metaheuris-
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