All credit for this is due to Mary Poppendieck as this is entirely cribbed from her Agile2007 talk on agile leadership.
A man walks into a quarry and sees three people with pickaxes. He walks up to the first one and asks, “What are you doing?” The first quarry worker irritably replies, “I’m cutting stone, what does it look like? I cut stone today, I cut stone yesterday, and I will cut stone tomorrow!” The man asks the same of the second person who replies, “I’m making a living for my family.” The man turns to the third person and asks him, “so what are you doing here?” The third worker looks up for a moment, looks back at the man with a proud expression and says, “I’m building a Cathedral!”
The moral of the parable is likely clear, but it bears applying to organizational dynamics. Basically, consider that everyone gets annoyed with aspects of their jobs. The question is one of response. Basically, if a person is annoyed with his job, does he:
- Complain? He is probably a stonecutter.
- Ignore it? He is probably a paycheque earner.
- Fix it? He is a cathedral builder.
Cathedral builders are absolutely critical to a healthy organization. They push the organization towards a vision, often propagating the high-level vision throughout all levels of the organization. Unfortunately, these are also people who annoy the stonecutters and paycheque earners, because they won’t participate in the complaints, and they agitate for changes which make it hard to ignore things and just “do the job.” But your success will rely on them… find them, shelter them, and grow them. And whatever you do, don’t “promote” them into positions where they aren’t effective. Empower them, and if you need to add salary and title that’s fine, but let them find their own area of maximal contribution. Guaranteed you, Mr. business owner, aren’t smart enough to see what that is.
Organizations that fail to see this remain mediocre or failing organizations. Organizations that find ways of harnessing their workforce and coaxing people into the next level of engagement, succeed.
Bell Canada is traffic shaping to restrict the speed of data on P2P networks.Â Mark Kuznicki has written a good reference piece on his blog.Â The piece is titled Bell Canada Hands Net Neutrality Advocates a Gift.Â It’s sad but funny too.Â I don’t usually post non-agile items, but I thought this one deserved some attention.Â Please, if this is important to you, take the time to blog about it even if just to link to Mark’s article.Â We’re using the tags: bellthrottling, netneutrality, canada.
This article called “To Bet Or Not To Bet: How The Brain Learns To Estimate Risk” is interesting, particularly because agile methods treat risk completely differently than traditional methods.
Linda Rising and several others have a discussion about the Retrospective Prime Directive over on InfoQ.Â It’s a fabulous read!
This is great! I often call myself an Agile Zealot to my clients. (Usually, they smile… and if they don’t I tend to have a short relationship with them!) So here it is, the Agile Zealot’s Handbook.
And, since I’ve got a dead horse lying around waiting to be beaten up some more, I’ve re-written it (the Agile Zealot’s Handbook, not the dead horse) to be non-software oriented. Presenting… the new and improved… non-software oriented… readable by anyone… Agile Zealot’s Creed:
If you are new to Agile Advice, these are not just some of the most popular articles, they are also some of the best! Take a look around; you will find ideas to inspire you, challenge your thinking and maybe that one little thing that will make the difference in applying agile methods in your situation.
1. How Two Hours Can Waste Two Weeks – 25,617 unique views
This little hypothetical story by Dmitri Zimine was very popular on Reddit, and Joel on Software ranted a bit about it.
2. The Case for Context Switching – 2,936 unique views
My rebuttal to Joel’s rant. Goes well with Dmitri’s article. Emphasizes the idea of building trust in an organization.
3. The Qualities of an Ideal Test – 1,579 unique views
Six qualities that will help make your tests as valuable as can be. Similar to the ACID properties of databases or the INVEST properties of user stories.
4. The Pros and Cons of Short Iterations – 1,555 unique views
A few words that will help you decide how long to make your iteration length. This is an important decision, and most teams and organizations don’t know the factors involved.
5. Five Signs of Trouble in an Iteration – 1,489 unique views
A good howto on using burndown charts to discover problems in an iteration.
6. Seventeen Tips for Iteration Planning – 1,427 unique views
A good list of hints and tips that can make the difference between struggling with iteration planning and having it go smoothly and effectively. This is a key part of the Agile Work process, so getting good at it is a high priority for any team new to Agile Work.
7. Change is Natural – “Embrace Change” – 1,397 unique views
A short riff on the universality of change. Also introduces the idea of the “horizon of predictability”.
8. The Art of Obstacle Removal – 1,287 unique views
This is a good reference article on types of obstacles and methods for removing them… a critical practice for Process Facilitators.
9. The Seven Core Practices of Agile Work – 1,285 unique views
Agile Work is really quite simple. This is a concise list of the practices that make up this effective methodology.
10. Interview with Alistair Cockburn – Agile and House Renovations – 902 unique views
Applying agile methods to home and garden renovations! Learn a bit about how this luminary of the agile world has taken agile practices out of the software world and into the hardware world.
Many of you have probably already see this, but it’s a good Friday post: http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=134931180&size=o. Courtesy of Scott Adams.
This is one of my favourite works – at the time, I was both working and studying the fine arts, a true juggling act. My boss was a believer in Balance – he sponsored my second show, and he bought this picture. Happily, he let me buy it back when they moved to a new space, after I’d moved to another city. Now, more than ever, I need its gentle reminder.
The juggler keeps a balance between work, play, obligation and passion.
If you’d like to use this image, to remind yourself or others to strive for a good balance, feel free to use it under the terms of this Creative Commons License