Friday, April 6, 2007

Never send to know for whom the bell tolls

In my culture, this is the beautiful, daffodil time of year. When spring is sprung.

And when Passover and Easter come to pass yet again.

The long cold winter is over, and the stream of life bursts forth in joy. If just to be alive again.

With Easter, we see presented to us again, it seems for the millionth time, the mystery of death and re-birth. We learn again that we are not just matter, not just a bag of water and a few minerals, priced (I used to hear) at about 98 cents. We conquer death... for Christians, through our Savior. And, if I understand correctly, each of the great religions also conquers death.

Why do I mention all this is this blog? While I won't get too personal, some of these have been themes in my personal life for the last year or so. And even in the last few weeks.

But let's return to Agile & Business. So, if it will not seem profane to some, let us mention a few connections, although I think many more connections could be made.

First, Agile and Business are for the whole man. Not just his material wants, but all of his wants. Yes, it is concrete and limited; business does not stand awaiting perfection before trying to deal with some basic human needs. But business is involved in all of man's wants and needs. Business is involved with death. And with the new-born baby as well. Indeed, in some way with all of our hopes and dreams.

So, Agile tells us to see the whole man. In the customer, in the worker, in the shareholder. In each person we deal with.

Agile also calmingly invites us to little deaths. To small failures, so that we may learn, and in time have the greater triumph. Agile does not protect us from the awful truth; we still can die and we still can fail in a big way. But Agile shows us, if we watch and listen, how to have small failures and learn from them.

The title of this post is from John Donne, MEDITATION XVII. I urge you to read it. If you know Hemingway, you will recognize a title or two in Donne's works.

Donne observes that no man is an island. This is a lesson that Agile has incorporated by bringing all the people together. All of the technical abilities are brought together into a whole team. And the business side and the technology side are brought together to collaborate. Perhaps there are still a few projects that one man can still do, but they are few these days. So, Agile is a way to learn how we are engrafted, one to another, and yet at the same time free. A paradox it may seem, but still true.

Donne asks us also to learn from the afflictions of others. Perhaps you see others doing Agile not well enough. Perhaps you see Agile now waxing and now waning in one firm. While this may seem a borrowing of misery, yet if you learn from it, you will mine its gold. Be patient. With them and with yourself.

Life and Agile may seem to you far better ideas than their opposites. But everything must to some degree follow the patterns of life and of the universe, like the tides and the waves. If you are truly clever, perhaps you will help the people see that Agile is not just the latest wave (in IT, in project management, or in management nostrums). Perhaps you are helping them see it is more fundamental. But nonetheless, it will still wax and wane. Be not discouraged.

May the brightness of the new flowers (daffodils or whatever is near you) give you joy. And may you fulfill the promise of their hope.

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