Agile and elephants

Image of an elephant on a tightrope between two buildings - generated by Dall-E

I spent last weekend with a friend in Cape Town. My friend's super power is her sense of fun and humour.

What's in your glass?

I am a "glass-is-half-full" kind of person. To my friend, however, the glass is almost full. After speaking to many people recently for whom the glass is close to empty, this was an uplifting experience.

William James (1842-1910) was an influential philosopher and psychologist. There are dozens of quotes from his writings that make great memes. Here is one:

"The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes."

This past weekend reminded me that I have already fallen behind on my 2023 goal to improve my mindset.

That prompted me to do a quick review. We've used up about 15% of 2023 so far. Are we moving in the right direction? Have we completed what we need to get to our target?

Agile and elephants

"Agile" has been the darling of the software project management world for some years now. At the heart of agile methodologies is the concept of a sprint. We break down a big complex project into bite-sized pieces. Then we focus on delivering that piece of work in a short, time-boxed period.

To me, agile is the project management answer to the question: "How do you eat an elephant?" (I apologise to any scrum masters who feel insulted by this over-simplification. And don't worry, I don't eat elephants. In fact, I'm a vegetarian.)

If you don't know, the answer to the question is: "One bite at a time."

We fall behind when we aren't eating that bite every time. Then we land up having the equivalent of an eating competition at the end of the year. So now is a good time to check: have you eaten 15% of the elephant?

Feeling stressed?

A lot of people I've spoken to recently are already stressed. Maybe Eskom is putting pressure on us to eat faster. (I admit I may be pushing the elephant-eating analogy a bit far.)

The less control we have, the more we stress. So I'm leaving you with another quote from William James:

"The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another."

Nobody ever said it will be easy. But like any difficult task, we just have to take one bite at a time. Believing you can take control of your attitude is a big bite. (I just had to use the elephant again.)

PS: I used Dall-E (the graphic equivalent of ChatGPT) to generate the image for the blog post. Check it out, and share your comments about stress, elephants and agile at the same time.

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