It is Sunday morning as I write.
I like to read different bibles, from different cultures. It is my intuition that while they are all different, they are also all trying to give us pointers towards the truth. Sometimes the pointers are a bit rusty and bent, but if we use a bit of imagination (thank you William Blake), then we can find our way a bit better, even with the bent and rusty ones.
In the Hebrew bible, there are several creation myths. How the world was created, and maybe why, and maybe a hint or two about, ‘What is it all about, anyway?’
And the New Testament has a creation myth, too. “In the beginning was the Word.” And a few lines later: “In him was life, and the life was the Light of men.” And then a few lines later: “And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.” An interesting progression. All Agile advocates can understand that last phrase, at least in the mundane way, that we try to shine what we think is a light, and often it is not comprehended.
Now, for those to less interested in myth, another ‘myth.’
In the New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell has another creation myth he wishes to describe. (I think he means it in not as profound a way as the Bible. Certainly I am not suggesting that it is as profound.) It has to do with Xerox PARC, Steve Jobs and the creation of the Personal Computer — and of modern warfare. He is really talking about creation, invention, innovation, creativity, which is what our Agile teams do. So, I think, a very important topic.
Read it here, or at least an abstract, and decide whether to read more.
Here’s what I think he says or implies, oversimplified into two points. (Which is usually one more point than I can remember for more than a day.)
- We can win more and faster as a team. Meaning: If we pick the right diverse mind-sets (individual people), and put them in a team and let them fight about the product in multiple dimensions, we can get better innovation faster.
- We win by being like the tree in my front yard. Meaning: We throw out many many seeds, most of which will die, most will be “failures,” but those failures are good because they mean more possibilities will be considered, and we will discover those few possibilities where the new tree can truly flourish.
It feels risky, it feels wasteful. Yet, it is the way to win and to have fun, but it does make me sneeze. (Literally: I have allergies now. Symbolically: Probably still true.)
And it is the way to make people’s lives better — maybe even yours.
Malcolm Gladwell is, I think, a wonderful writer, and you may take different conclusions from his story. Please do.