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Agile Caravanserai: December 2020 Reflection

So, we’ve kicked off the Agile Caravanserai series! So far, we’ve heard from Jim Highsmith, Alistair Cockburn and Bob Martin.  I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing from these authors of the Agile Manifesto.   Each one of them has a unique perspective, based on their own particular experiences and backgrounds.

However, as I reflected on the interviews myself, I found that 4 common messages emerged: be grateful, give back, navigate through uncertainty; and speculate and evolve to the future iteratively.

I’d like to unpack those, and offer my own thoughts on them. Let’s do it!

Be grateful

Along with shorter days and longer nights in the Western Hemisphere, we’re heading into the the holiday season, with Christmas and holiday music on the radio stations here in the U.S.A.

We’re also just past Thanksgiving season, with its all-important focus on gratitude.  Gratitude is the thankful appreciation for what we receive, tangible or intangible.

With gratitude, we acknowledge the goodness in their lives, and connect with something larger than ourselves. Whether that’s to other people, nature, or a higher power. Research shows that gratitude can lift our spirits and contribute to our well-being.

Alistair highlighted the Argentinian tradition of celebrating everything good, no matter how small. Que Bueno! Every little thing from a cup of tea to a patch of sunlight can be a reason to be grateful.

As Bob Martin put it, we agilists are immensely fortunate. We need to be grateful for the immense privilege of our position in civilization. As Bob puts it, the platforms on which people the world over collaborate in the pandemic were built by software developers and agilists.

Personally, I am deeply grateful for my family and my team at LitheSpeed.

Give back

Saint Francis of Assisi said, “for it is in giving that we receive.”  Whatever your faith or spiritual tradition, I’m sure one of its first principles is to give, and to give back generously to our communities.

It’s well established that giving back is deeply rewarding. It’s helpful not only to the people or causes we help, but also to ourselves. Many maintain that the secret to lasting happiness is to continuously help others.

Jim advocated for giving back to our communities and to society at large, and Bob encourages us to give back to our profession.

Let’s find ways to give back, the need is great!

Navigate through uncertainty

This is a time for unprecedented uncertainty across the world.  Many countries are facing economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Ever since March 2020, things are continuing to change daily.

Alistair shared his personal experience of having to pivot, pivot and pivot during the last several months. Bob encouraged us to keep our heads up, because the coming years are going to be very interesting.

As agilists, we are extraordinarily fortunate with the best way to navigate uncertainty – agile methods themselves. Jim stressed that agile reflects our journey through uncertainty.  He reminded us that the map is not the territory, and that we will likely need to pivot towards different goals.

At LitheSpeed, our team has come together to navigate and innovate in these uncertain times. We’ve pivoted several times using a customer-centric approach to innovation.

Now, as we prepare for a New Year, and with the first vaccines on the horizon, how should we step forward into the future?

Speculate and evolve to the future iteratively

In Bob’s words, we sit at the fulcrum of civilization, and that gives us immense privilege and responsibilities. Bob believes we need to turn software into a profession by developing standards and ethics and principles, which we haven’t done before.

Alistair is seeking the expansion of agile from software into everything. He boils agile down to this essence – the ability to move quickly, with ease and to change direction.

Jim leaves us with this advice – remember it’s all about individuals and teams. So, let’s iterate through this unprecedented change, by speculating and evolving into the future.

Here’s wishing all of you out there some wonderful rest and relaxation over the coming holidays, and lots of hope for the New Year!

-Sanjiv Augustine

See the Agile Caravanserai series here.