Archive for the ‘Motivation’ Category

#agile2011 On Further Reflection and in Light of the #Verizonstrike

August 20, 2011

Today I was walking around Northern Boulevard under the blazing sun, crossing to the Sport Authority “sales” tent, when I had a kind of “aha.”

At home I’d just read a new blog post by Alistair Cockburn on Agile in Management and Leadership, and was thinking about everything I’d learned at the Agile Conference in Salt Lake City the week of August 8.  I passed a family with two young giggling kids, speaking a Himalayan dialect of some sort to each other, when suddenly occurred to me: the Bhutanese are onto something much bigger with their focus on Gross National Happiness (“GNH”). Might seem kind of obvious, but they’ve given themselves a purpose not based on money.

Previous King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, crowns his son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, King (REUTERS/Royal Government of Bhutan/Handout)

Previous King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, crowns his son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, King (REUTERS/Royal Government of Bhutan/Handout)

In case you are not familiar with GNH, here’s a quick summary. The previous King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, realizing that his country would not soon become the richest in the world (particularly since the nation is one of the poorest), focused his people’s purpose on something else: Gross National Happiness.  The team from the Centre for Bhutan Studies, inspired by the direction, developed a sophisticated survey instrument with Karma Ura and Canadian Michael Pennock for measuring happiness in a population.  It is now the official direction the Bhutanese government, newly democratic, passed as a policy. The Government is taking every step to ensure that the GNH “precedes over economic prosperity.” (more…)

Tailored Content, Laziness and Self-directed Teams

May 4, 2011

I’ve been challenged in thinking about how human laziness influences self-directed teams.

This morning I stumbled on this talk by Eli Pariser about the affects of  “tailored content.” “Tailored content” means content on the web is algorithmically filtered and, so, “tailored” for you according to your behavior, according to what you click on. In practice, this can mean you don’t get to see links that might challenge you and might not be in accordance with your usual patterns. (more…)

Self-Directed Work and Free Will (More On the Agile Enlightenment)

March 24, 2011

In a recent article in the New York Times, John Tierney discusses Free Will and Determinism.  One line inspired me to consider this in the context of what I view as a possible new Enlightenment taking place in business right now in the form of the adoption of Agile working methodologies.  That is:

…the higher the workers scored on the scale of belief in free will, the better their ratings on the job.

One of the fundamental operating principles of Agile methodologies is the idea of self-directed teams.  Agile moves away from the carrot-or-stick mentality towards collaboration.  I need the copy to complete my layouts; the writer needs strategy to complete the copy; the strategist hears and understands and works with both because now s/he understands what they need to make the team’s shared goal.  I don’t need someone beating me with a stick to get me moving; I don’t need a raise for “making it happen” even though I didn’t have what I needed.  The team just needs to collaborate. And the erstwhile project manager, now the “ScrumMaster” facilitates all of us talking.  We might not even really need the ScrumMaster every single time.

Where, but in collaboration, can we have a strong sense of free will, of deciding to work together?

Tobias Mayer on his Agile Anarchy blog talks about the role of the Individual and Free Will in this way (and don’t get scared by the word “anarchy,” please):

Both the anarchist and the agilist believe that real change does not come about through compliance and coercion, cannot be commanded from on high, but begins at a grass roots level, with the individual.  Each one of us is responsible for change.  That is our beginning.


Agile and the Enlightenment – Reframing Human Capital in a Column by NYT’s David Brooks

March 9, 2011

My previous post talks about “the survival of the fittest” and what motivates us.  I included videos from Dan Pink and Dr. Dan Ariely that question our very assumptions about what makes us work well.  The videos show that we’re not all about reason and the carrot and the stick, but sometimes we just want to do things because we emotionally connect to the actual doing.

Today, by coincidence, New York Times Columnist, David Brooks, has an article called The New Humanism.  He says:

This growing, dispersed body of research reminds us of a few key insights. First, the unconscious parts of the mind are most of the mind, where many of the most impressive feats of thinking take place. Second, emotion is not opposed to reason; our emotions assign value to things and are the basis of reason. Finally, we are not individuals who form relationships. We are social animals, deeply interpenetrated with one another, who emerge out of relationships.

He also talks about how this has implications for how we view human capital.  He relates our thinking back to seeds sown by the French (versus the English) Enlightenment.

Sir Ken Ken Robinson gave this talk, below, which also holds that our particular Enlightenment legacy is adversely affecting the way we educate our children:

He talks about the fact that our current system of public education was motivated by an economic need (the Industrial Revolution), but that it was haunted by assumptions about human nature that posited capacity for deductive reasoning and knowledge of the classics as a foundation for the very ability to become educated.  What we now call “Academic Ability.”  Sir Ken concludes the video by saying that in fact the system ends up directing students to find one answer (individualism) versus many answers (Divergent Thinking).

In any case, it seems we are on the verge of a new Enlightenment.  What Brooks has discussed (in the Times and in a recent book) you might see as really being about the team. It is my belief that Agile in its emphasis on team is an expression of this revolution.  And this is at the root of a completely new way to function in business and society.  Let’s see.