Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Agile Master #4: Lessons on Agile Development from the Tao Te Ching

Throw away holiness and wisdom,
and people will be a hundred times happier.
Throw away morality and justice,
and people will do the right thing.
Throw away industry and profit,
and there won't be any thieves.

If these three aren't enough,
just stay at the center of the circle
and let all things take their course.
- Tao Te Ching, Chapter 19

In agile development, it is the team that is the center of everything, not individuals. Individuals trying to demonstrate that they are better or smarter will poison the team as a whole. Just as you should not blame one member of the team for an error, you should not praise one member. The team makes errors and the team succeeds.

Trust your team. Get rid of procedures designed to enforce expected behaviour. The team will do the right thing without it and they will do it for the right reasons - not out of fear. In the process, they will know true empowerment.

In the same manner, you should not institute individual rewards. The team should not be competing within itself for perks or benefits. This breeds envy and resentment.

The Agile Master should constantly evaluate what is superficial in order to get rid of it. Individual knowledge is superficial and dangerous; strive for team knowledge. Procedures are superficial and costly; get rid of those that do not benefit the team. Which ones are those? Ask them.

You will not be able to fix everything or everyone. Be calm. Be patient.

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