Egoless Change and Agile

More Thoughts re Agile, Change and Egolessness

For some background, you may want to read my previous post “Let’s go Egoless!” where I talk about egoless programming, design and architecture. And for some sideways context it could be worth checking out “Should we B&B software development?“. We can go further than that though! The next step up, or sideways or whatever is in to the land of change and process…

It’s no secret that Agile is in a state of flux at the moment, with potential industrialisation and the many spruikers doing their thing. There’s also much debate amongst those who really care about effecting agile change. In writing the previous post and reading all the agile tweets, I had an epiphany regarding agile, and ultimately process change. Most people are taking a Yang / Male approach to it! There’s often an element of “I AM the (Agile or whatever) Change Agent – you will bow before ME!“, “I have the knowledge, you do not!”, “You are but a student – pay attention, for I am The Master“, “You must change, otherwise you are condemned to the Ninth Circle of Hell!”. This is totally the opposite of my experience and style of working.

I’ve learnt about change through the “school of hard knocks, mistakes, ruthless observation and adaption”. Yes, when I was younger (and was implementing RUP) I was stupid enough to think that it was all so obvious! Why would anyone not use RUP? It’s logical and makes sense, so just use it! One can say the same for agile and certain major agile consultancies that may not be mentioned, yet will be known. Yes, it may be obvious and work, but “looking down your nose” at people doesn’t really help, which then leads us back to a Journey / Fellowship concept which I really like and have had (one) success with.

During the past 10 years I’ve been working predominantly in the area of SOA, Architecture and Process, including Agile for 10 and Scrum for 5 years. The one thing I’ve learnt is that organisations (obviously) exist at different levels of maturity* and that this dictates the amount of change and organisation can handle. I’ve been on both the good side, when an organisation can handle the change, in which case it works and the “bad” side, when it can’t and therefore “rejects” it. But is it really “bad” and do they really “reject” it? Not necessarily. It’s a message and although it isn’t fully propagated, it is propagated. What I’ve seen and experienced is that there needs to be a “critical mass”, so when things go well, you’re probably standing on the shoulders of others who have come before you and that you will probably never know.

Remember, change is like water and although it may seem innocuous at first, over time it can create canyons and ravines, or sometimes just a beautiful stream.

So what’s my point? In the world of change, let’s try and put our egos aside. Yes, people will do their “best effort” to effect change. Sometimes it will work and that’s always a cause for celebration. Sometimes it won’t, but it shouldn’t be such a big deal – if an organisation really is on “a journey” then there will be other efforts and one day, hopefully they’ll succeed. Just be glad that you’ve had the opportunity to be a part of it.

PS On a practitioner level, there was a “scuffle” that I neatly dodged between two people who I greatly respect. I can’t go in to more detail as then it would be clear who I’m talking about and that wouldn’t really help. But in that light, can we as practitioners and creators also put our egos aside amongst ourselves, processes and beliefs? At the moment, two of my areas of interest, namely Enterprise Architecture and Agile seem to have enough external problems with their reputation without people bickering within them! I’m starting to think that Bob is on to something (yet again! ; ) with Non Violent Communication – see his great post Progress with Nonviolent Communication


* Bob Marshall – Right Shifting : Shows that what we’re talking about is really part of a much larger continuum, unfortunately much of which is unexplored.

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