Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A purpose for Agile

In general, it is useful to do the most important things.

Not the things we are most sure about.  Not the things that we can do well.  Not the things we can predict well (or better).

But, we should do the most important things.  Usually one at a time.

As though we were human beings. In a sensible world.

Yogi Berra said:
You have to be very careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there.

So, where are we trying to get to with Agile and Scrum? With what I call lean-agile-scrum?

 I think the purpose is to make lives better.

Our own life first.  (I am imagining the ScrumMaster in the Team. My life, she thinks.)  We must first take responsibility for that. And being self-sufficient in this world, maybe even net net contributing.

Then we want the lives of everyone in the Team to be better.  A small group. Almost manageable in size.  People we get to know as people. We don't just 'love humanity', but real, specific, gnarly people.  And we help them make their lives better.  And help them become (better) contributors to other people's lives.

Still, we do not live for ourselves alone.  So, we ask the Team to build something for other people, for the Customers we often say.  This is a good and great thing.  Especially if we can see the Customers as a real person, as a group of real people. (Hence, as one small example, we use the roles in the User Story cards.)

So, we contribute to the lives of others. Perhaps our contribution is small and pleasureable,  Perhaps it is dramatic, maybe even life-saving.  Perhaps it has a spiritual dimension. Or it helps take care of the basic needs of those whose basic needs are not yet assured. I think those different choices, all a matter of personal choice, are not so important. What is essential is that the Team do something for someone else.  Someone outside themselves.  That they love their neighbor, in a small way, as themselves.  They give to others as they would want to be given to.

In economics, we can call it a business transaction. We provide a service and get paid for it. But in real life, we give something of value (X-y) to us, and it has value (X+z) to the Buyer.  And the Buyer only pays X.  So, in real life it is a win-win for everyone.  That is, if people were mostly rational.  Which is an hypothesis we will work with.

So, it is a business transaction, and we are successful, we hope, business-wise.  But some of you will have noted the words I used. Much like the famous words of some great teachers.  It is also a spiritual event, even though at the time we don't make it a 'precious' spiritual event.  We don't become overly conscious of its spiritual dimension.  And even better: we hardly engage the maya of becoming spiritually 'better'.  We just do our duty, have some fun with the Team, and, one hopes, we learn at the same time some important lessons.

If you see Scrum in these terms, does it guide you in adding to it and in playing it in your real situation?  Scrum is very practical; use it well.

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