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Summary:

In the web world, we tend to associate the word “agile” with software development, but in this ever-changing world, it’s not a bad idea to apply the basic principles of agility to our busy professional lives. Does this mean you have to be some kind of […]

In the web world, we tend to associate the word “agile” with software development, but in this ever-changing world, it’s not a bad idea to apply the basic principles of agility to our busy professional lives. Does this mean you have to be some kind of superhero to manage a lifestyle like ours? I think not.

This is what a day in my hectic life looks like — a never-ending game of Tetris (in which colored blocks are work and black are non-work). It’s probably a lot like yours, but with different labels:

tetriswork

The Millennials, for better or for worse, have grown up living like this, and apparently it comes pretty naturally to them. But what if you are from an earlier generation, or if you had crunchy granola parents who had a “Kill Your TV” bumper sticker on their old car and whose most sophisticated piece of electronic equipment was the toaster?

I think there are certain personality traits that many of us share that can help us to capitalize on the principles outlined in the Agile Manifesto. And they might not be what you expect:

  1. You have to be lazy. Yes, lazy. Because lazy people find the most efficient solutions to problems in order to get the job done. (From the Agile Manifesto: “Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential.”)
  2. You have to be easily bored. Because then you’re exhilarated and stimulated by the constant turmoil rather than overwhelmed by it. (From the Agile Manifesto: “Welcome changing requirements.”)
  3. You have to be curious. Because then you’ll always be increasing the breadth and depth of your knowledge, which will give you more/better marketable skills and enable you to diversify when the opportunity arises. (From the Agile Manifesto: “Continuous attention to technical excellence…enhances agility.”)

These are only a few of the principles behind the Agile Manifesto. I encourage you to read them all and envision how you can integrate these principles into your business practices.

What other characteristics do you think we need to deal with life and work in our constantly changing world?

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By Pamela Poole

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  1. Nice post. But first off, agility is about being agile! You can be lazy and can be easily bored, but people with those qualities as their primary skill set can hardly act agile. Agility is about mobility and flexibility. Same way you’ve got agility drills in sports, with rapid legs movements, moving your core right to the exact point – same here. Agility is about the ability to move your feet to be in the right time, at the right place, and act right.

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  2. Hi Olga. That’s one way of interpreting things that’s as valid as my little metaphor, certainly! But why does lazy preclude flexible and mobile? Here I’m saying pre-existing laziness just conditions you to be very efficient and being easily bored means you’re ready and eager to change activities often.

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  3. Yeah, I am with you—laziness is a virtue! I had professor in college who used to say that bacterial geneticists are lazy people. When looking for a mutation that occurs one-in-a-billion times they can’t check each bacteria. Instead maybe they link the gene they want with a toxin resistant gene, grow a bunch of cells and throw the toxin in. Most of the bacteria will die but the survivors will have a much higher probably of having the gene they are looking for. Good science comes from this kind of laziness and so does good software development because it breeds creative thinking. My own laziness has saved me many times.

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  4. I know so many people who only thrive when everything is as unnecessarily complicated as possible.

    And if you are someone of the “laziness is the mother of invention” variety, you are at a systematic disadvantage whenever your projects depend on the “pourquoi faire simple quand on peut faire compliqué” (why go for simple when you can go for complicated) crowd.

    Probably one of the top reasons I dropped out of corporate life to fly solo…

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  5. [...] Agility Is Not Just About Software Development "In the web world, we tend to associate the word “agile” with software development, but in this ever-changing world, it’s not a bad idea to apply the basic principles of agility to our busy professional lives. Does this mean you have to be some kind of superhero to manage a lifestyle like ours? I think not." (tags: work philosophy agile) [...]

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  6. Hi David.

    Thanks for that example. I’ve heard plenty of smart and effective people proudly admit that they’re lazy! And I agree that it can definitely foster creativity and ingenuity.

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  7. [...] is a day in my life. Read about how I deal with it on Web Worker Daily and [...]

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  8. David – I agree that is a perfect example. Thanks for the great post Pam. It was one of the first I read as I entered agile and it really resonates with me.

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