Agile People

Frederick Winslow Taylor - not one of our "Agile People"When we create software we try to create something that is better than we are at carrying out a task, whether it is making decisions without bias, remembering large amounts of data, or communicating precise messages. Computers are the tool and we define the process. Defining process can be challenging, it is not something we naturally do, we generally just ‘do’.

Now to make things more challenging as an agile team we are given the freedom to define the process that will help us create the software. This meta process is a human one, less precise, less predictable and complex. We have delicate ego’s making message passing particularly hazardous, we are prone to forgetting and to a vast array of biases.

Through generations of Taylorism we have largely lost the skill of finding our own path and prefer to look for external guidance. Rather than collaborate, we compete. Rather than question our process we externalise responsibility by saying we just ‘have to do it’. It has led us to bureaucracy and work life full of futility and waste.

But we are not good at expressing our frustration with the status quo. We live in a society where feelings should be repressed. Instead we turn to anger or defensiveness to show our contempt, this leads to bizarre irrational behaviours that quickly become accepted as “just the way it is”. We are encouraged to ‘work hard’ which we infer to mean keep busy rather than question how we add value.

With some considerable effort we can learn the skills to find an effective and continually adaptive process. When we think carefully about the consequences of our actions and treat ourselves and others with the respect and compassion we deserve we can find better ways of working and make smarter decisions. It may all sound a bit fluffy but the boost in effectiveness of our organisations can be enormous. We just need to shed those Victorian chains.

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