Sunday, April 29, 2012

Delight and Joy - unalienable rights

The Agile Manifesto is an excellent foundation for creating better software development organisations. However, on its own, it lacks a unifying foundation - a means of bringing everyone together, across any organisational boundaries.

Many people still predominantly think in terms of applicability of Agile for specific projects: "Can this project be run using Agile?" or "Would Agile be appropriate for this project?". That kind of attitude slows organisation-wide improvement - it implies that in some areas, the existing ways of work might be "good enough" and therefore exempt from scrutiny and improvement.

The Agile Manifesto, as it currently stands, doesn't directly help people to think in more holistic terms, like: "How may we delight our customers better?", or "How may we best improve our way of work?", despite the fact that agile techniques are very well designed to support improvement.

A few hundred years ago, a nation was born with a proclamation that included the following words:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
In my experience, nothing fundamental has changed in the mean time - we can still safely perceive these truths as self-evident. All of us that work for a living deserve the opportunity to delight our customers and find joy in our work.

Recent research shows that positive emotions play a significant role in achieving success. Consider Shawn Achor's TED Talk: The happy secret to better work, and Barbara Fredrickson's work on positivity.

We all deserve to have ample opportunities to pursue happiness. Since our work lives use up most of our waking hours each week, we had better make sure we can find great joy in our work. Focusing on delighting customers is an excellent and sustainable source of joy and satisfaction in work.

Dan Pink proposes that in our current culture we are primarily motivated by autonomy, mastery and purpose - I find it fascinating how well that parallels with spirit of the Declaration of Independence. Liberty matches autonomy (the freedom to choose our own course of action), mastery matches life (the opportunity to work at improving our skills, minds and bodies), and happiness matches purpose.

I suggest we may find ways of improving upon the Agile Manifesto, quite possibly by harnessing the influence of positive emotions to achieve lasting success in our organisations. What do you think?

No comments:

Post a Comment