Monday, February 17, 2014

A compassionate reading of the Agile Manifesto

The four points of the Agile Manifesto read
  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation 
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation 
  • Responding to change over following a plan
which Agilists are at pains to point out does not mean: "no process, tools, contracts or plans", but -- as the manifesto goes on to say -- "while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more".

Now Olaf Lewitz has written a wonderful articulation of why the items on the left are more highly valued than those on the right:
Now, when I read the four statements from a compassionate point of view, having worked with hundreds of organisations where people cling to documentation, plans, contracts, processes and roles, I have a more holistic perspective.  
All of the things on the right are commonly used for three purposes:  
  1. To hide lies, to avoid trust, 
  2. To cover somebody’s ass (make sure it’s not my fault), and 
  3. To defer acknowledgement of uncertainty. 
 The basic emotion behind all of these strategies is fear.
In other words: the items on the right give protect against negative outcomes and the related fears, while those on the left emphasise freedom and fruitfulness.

Depending on the situation one may need to play some defence, but the ideal is to move forward positively.

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