Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Tao of Agile, part 1

In the division of Agility vs Stuff, please consider this post as Stuff ...

- I've been 'doing Agile' for quite a few years now, and it changed my life (see previous posts :)

- I've been reading and re-reading the book of Tao for the last 5 years, and it changed my life.

And the more I deal with these two, 
- the more I find the Book of Tao to be the most concise Agile guide.
- the more I find Lau-Tzu to be the most incredible Agile mentor.

Hence, I'd like to start a series of posts to let you into this world, with ease and attention, since ...

A journey




But first, what is the Tao, and what is Agile?

- To get the root definition of Agile, you can just go here.

- To get the root definition of Tao, here is the first verse in the book of Tao, where Lau Tzu explains what it is:
(Based on the wonderful translation of Nissim Amon, which I tweaked a tiny bit... with hope to be forgiven...)


The eternal Tao (Path)
can not be captured by words
Trying to give it a name
will not help reveal its true core

is the source
of heaven and earth
Without title
is the mother
of the tens of thousands of objects (1)

While blinded by desires
you can only see the external things (2)
you can see the unseen (3)

There are many things in the world
And they all bear names.
Yet there is one big mystery
both behind and beyond (4)

The great mystery and the world of things
differ by name
yet their source is one
They spring from the same source
Live without fear
Feel the world
Breath the obstacles (let them in) (6)
Know this world

Beyond The Phenomena gate
Flows The river
Of Tao
And now, some of my comments (take them with a grain of salt, please, I'm just trying to share my humble understanding :-)
(0) Translations of Tao also include:  'way', 'path', 'route', 'key' or sometimes more loosely 'doctrine' or 'principle'
(1) All the objects you see (this screen, a car, a pen, an apple, your parents, your country) have their name, but the one big thing they belong to has no name ('everything' is not its name, since it is 'every thing', not the unity of all)
(2) If your desire is hunger, you will see apples and bread, if your desire is sex, you will see breasts and torsos, if your desire is money, you will see prices,
(3) but if you desire nothing you will start seeing beyond these labels, you will start seeing the apple and tree as one, you will start seeing body features with no name, you will see objects with no regard to their cost.
(4) The big mystery is the single common source of all that exists as one entity. and the sum of all that exists.
(5) Here Lau-Tzu becomes directional, he instructs you how to behave in order to connect to what he described (or, how to become (what later will be known as) a Taoist.)
(6) Instead of ignoring obstacles (or pain), denying it or fighting it, just observe and accept it with no judgement.

So, what's this to do with Agile?

Basically, Agility (as I perceive it) is a mindset, a way to see a problem, a project. to look it in the eye and understand it. and then to address it while it keeps moving and changing.
While the 'old-school' approach is
- to understand the situation, and then close our eyes and react (opening them only when we are done with our plan, if ever)
Agile means starting to react facing a moving target.
Also, not to assume you understand or know everything.
In the upcoming posts, I'll talk more about things like:
- The inspiring structure of the Manifesto, as a set of values that stand side-by-side.
- The clear division of Vision and Execution (Yin-Yang)
- The importance of maximizing the work not-done
- Agile and non-Agile ways of governance.


Stay tuned :)

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