Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

And Now a Very Important Political Message…

April 11, 2011

Vote Summer!

Is Agile Communist?

March 27, 2011

Whenever we start talking about “collectives” and not being completely in the realm of the individual, we inevitably see comparisons to Communism.

So I found this very interesting article written in 2007 called “Does XP/Scrum Violate the ‘Agile Manifesto?’” written by an anonymous blogger who refers to themselves as the “Software Maestro.” (I have not delved more deeply into this blog to figure out if they de-cloaked at any point).  I also found this article, on agileadvice.com, also from 2007, which argues back in a very cogent, unemotional, way.

Ramses II photo by Iamimesis

Ramses II photo by Iamimesis

Software Maestro’s article aligning Agile with Communism should be considered as its very interesting viewpoint starts to pierce some of this puzzling over leadership and the role of the individual within the Agile world.  It’s back to the Big Idea, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and the need for leadership and vision for the team.  Who gets to have a vision?  Just the Product Owner? Just the Master? Just Steve Jobs?  Just George Lois? And so on. (more…)

Evolving Out of Feudalism, Becoming Self-directed

March 10, 2011
HH the Dalai Lama in the New York Times

HH the Dalai Lama in the New York Times

Back to how evolutionary Agile is, today His Holiness the Dalai Lama announced he is retiring from any political duties within the Tibetan Government-in-Exile.  Interestingly, some Tibetans have reacted by saying they want His Holiness to continue to make major decisions, and not to abandon his political role.  Quoted in the New York Times, Tim Johnson, author of the recent book, “Tragedy in Crimson: How the Dalai Lama Conquered the World but Lost the Battle with China,” says:

“Tibetan exiles have only reluctantly embraced democracy despite the Dalai Lama’s many urgings. Many would prefer that the Dalai Lama continue to make all major decisions. And he has had to push hard for them to accept someone other than himself as a political leader.”

When the Bhutanese King, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, moved that country to Democracy, I noticed on many Bhutanese forums that Nidup reads that Bhutanese did not want this.  In ExpressIndia, a Bhutanese minister is quoted as saying:

“But His Majesty said you can’t leave such a small, vulnerable country in the hands of only one man, who was chosen by birth and not by merit.”

I had a chance to have a brief conversation with Tobias Mayer yesterday, and we discussed the fact that some folks who join an Agile team similarly have difficulty adapting to an Inspect and Adapt approach and in being self-directed.  It can seem to be, in fact, easier just to be told what to do, to have someone else make our to-do list, and just to do it.  No debate needed.  It makes me think that it could be possible that at a certain point, Agile, like Democracy, could get messy.  There could be the very real possibility of inertia.

In fact, I observed this with one team.  The team was accustomed to a Great Creative Mind directing it.  That Great Creative Mind realized the risk of having a Great Creative Mind as the sole Creator on the team by becoming suddenly unavailable to direct the team, to be their… King.  We’d tried to roll out Scrum on this team and on doing so the team suddenly went into a spin-and-flounder mode.  I was not personally part of the team and am not sure exactly why this was.  Perhaps because the role of Product Owner was missing as the truth is, the team was not trained in Agile and really was just practicing the Scrum meeting.  Even though, I’d expect through talking together that synchronicity would naturally evolve. That the team would find their own King from within, or find they don’t need a King – or product owner.

I’ve been watching TV shows on Netflix about feudal times and magic, specifically The Tudors and Merlin.  In The Tudors it seems to me so far that the writers have made Cardinal Wolsey King Henry VIII’s project manager, in a sense.  Once the cardinal is deposed, according to this loosely-based-on-history version, the king has to reform parliament and his own council so he can “get things done” and manage the country well.  In Merlin, a young feudal King Arthur is protected by the hidden magical abilities of Merlin.  This story shows Arthur as more part of a team.

What’s interesting about both is how authority and leadership are presented for entertainment.  In the case of The Tudors, it gets ugly and at a certain point, there’s no one to like in the entire show.  In the case of Merlin, there’s a charm to King Arthur and his team.  But in both shows, the leaders are needed, a requirement for things to function.

When I took training with Ken Schwaber, in exercises I noticed my own tendency to want to take over and tell the other team members what to do.  Later in Jeff Sutherland’s class, I suppressed this tendency and found I perceived (note that this may just be perception) my team not to move forward.  Later, Dr. Sutherland re-formed the class teams, and I was part of a team that had an experienced ScrumMaster. She quickly became our team leader because she had that mastery.

And this is where I think there is a thread. The reason we don’t want to give up our Kings may not only be about wanting to be told what to do and avoiding conflict. It might also be that we want someone with mastery to lead so we can learn. In the case of the feudal model, that leader has been trained to lead.  Unfortunately, the person who receives this opportunity by their birth may not ever really find themselves able to to be true masters. As usual, more to explore on this point.

News Corp vs Google

February 24, 2011

Now Murdoch’s News Corp. is using Fox News (Glenn Beck) and the Wall Street Journal to say *Google* was at the heart of the Egyptian uprising because one of their executives used Facebook to participate in the evolution.

This is actually a kind of fortunate turn of events if you think about it.  It’s interesting to consider that the fact that lightening speed communal linking and information sharing is not at the heart of the unrest, but rather that Google somehow was an instigator.  A treasure trove for conspiracy theories.  In any case, to stoke that fire a little, from a New York Magazine article in 2010:

Murdoch has a particular animus against Google. He believes the search giant is stealing his content while wrapping itself in that familiar cloak, albeit one with New Age–y Silicon Valley stylings: “Don’t be evil.” Much as he has done in the newspaper wars he’s fought over the last 60 years, he wants to turn the tables, call Google’s moral authority into question. At its core, Murdoch’s fight is about getting Google to pay to put his content into the search index. Publicly, Google treats this as a nonstarter. “We’re not going to pay for indexing,” says Josh Cohen, the head of Google News. “It’s something we just don’t do.”

Before Murdoch realized that Google posed a mortal threat to his empire, he used to praise it, recalls one former News Corp. employee. “We would be sitting in meetings, and he’d go on and on about the Google guys, and how they had dry cleaning and massages, and what a great company and culture it was,” the staffer recalls. When he bought the Journal, Murdoch thought about making online content free, even though the Journal was one of the few successes in fee-based news sites. And Murdoch and Wendi are friends with Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, though they are not as close lately, given the heated nature of their conflict.

Last year, Murdoch and his senior executives decided they needed an organized counteroffensive. As a code name, they chose Project Alesia, named after Julius Caesar’s victorious siege of the Gallic forces in 52 B.C. Murdoch conceived the fight against Google as a political campaign. He mapped out distinct phases. First, Murdoch and Thomson would make a series of provocative speeches to drum up press, using News Corp.’s media outlets and other interview opportunities to shape the debate. In February 2009, during an appearance on Charlie Rose, Thomson said, “Google devalues everything it touches.” In April, Thomson said in an interview, “Certain websites are best described as parasites or tech tapeworms in the intestines of the Internet.” And in December, Murdoch published an op-ed in the Journal declaring that “there are those who think they have a right to take our news content and use it for their own purposes without contributing a penny to its production … To be impolite, it’s theft.”

Read the full article here.