The surprising ideas behind Agile & Lean

The Agile movement has always had the aura of rebellion. We will confront the central planners of the world and show them a better way!

This overlooks the deep philosophical roots of Agile and Lean. In this talk, we take a look at some of the ideas that underpin Agile, Lean and other iterative approaches. You’ll come away with a clearer view of Agile’s foundational ideas as well as the rival school of thought and how the two can be used in combination to gain an edge in a competitive world.


Outline/Structure of the TED talk

  • The most important principle: humility
  • First, an old story - The Mysterious Knight
  • The Scientific Method
  • Inductivism - the most obvious approach
  • Hypothetico-deductivism - continual experiments
  • Comparing science to delivery
    • Inductivism - Waterfall
    • HD - Agile
  • Lean - anything seem familiar?
  • Taking the long view - the history of Inductivism vs HD
  • Going even further back - Greek & Roman thought
  • Back to the present: where are we now?
  • Key messages:
    • Take comfort: Agile has a very solid foundation.
    • But don't get cocky: Inductivism has a long history and a lot to offer.
    • Ultimately, it's about humility. Use the best tool for the job.

Learning Outcome

Understanding the rich scientific heritage underlying Agile and Lean.

Target Audience

People interested in exploring Agile, Lean and what links all these ideas together.

Prerequisites for Attendees

Familiarity with Agile, Scrum and Lean. Curiousity and a willingness to explore new ideas!

schedule Submitted 3 years ago

  • Bryce Williams

    Bryce Williams - Earth girls don’t code – do they?

    Bryce Williams
    Bryce Williams
    Agile Coach
    schedule 3 years ago
    Sold Out!
    20 Mins
    TED talk

    If you had grown up on another planet, had stalks for ears and didn’t understand the concepts of male & female, how would you make sense of the gender imbalance in technology?

    Seen through the eyes of a Martian anthopologist, this talk explores the curious lack of human females in full-time programming roles. In 2019, despite generations of campaigning, why are so few women writing code?

    In a good-natured look at a serious topic, we ask what drives the odd Earthling behaviour. Why do they exclude half their talent from key roles in the modern economy? Is there some basis to the disparity and is there anything the strange bipeds can do to bring their technology sector into balance?

  • David Martin

    David Martin - Let me tell you a story...

    David Martin
    David Martin
    Lean/Agile Coach
    Don't Panic
    schedule 4 years ago
    Sold Out!
    90 Mins

    Stories are an amazingly powerful communication tool. They sidestep our rational brain before crash tackling our limbic system and putting our amygdala in a headlock (see what I did there? I just told a story).

    Humans have used stories for thousands of years to communicate. From the earliest creation myths to modern podcasting. Stories grab you, drag you in and implant their message deep in your brain.

    The only place we don't use stories to communicate is in business where we are told to "stick with the facts", "take emotion out" and "keep it professional".

    Let's change that. Let's put the emotion back in and give ourselves a communications edge through the amazing power of stories.

  • Khali Young

    Khali Young - Accountability Without Coercion

    90 Mins
    Holding people to account, that they are following through on what they said they would do, is a really important part of cultures of results creation. Accountability is also a really important enabler of team work: when people do what they say they are going to do, we can rely on them. Accountability skills can easily be used to coerce people though. If we want to have a learning environment, we need to make sure that driving for accountability does not diminish psychological safety. This is particularly essential in knowledge work and contexts of high change. Holding people too strongly to account when there is a lot of change can end up driving actions, that at one point made sense, but no longer make sense, as new understanding has emerged.
    In this workshop we will practice empathic accountability skills that invite learning
  • Khali Young

    Khali Young - Dialoguing for Learning, Collective Wisdom and Engagement

    90 Mins
    The complexity of the market place and the interdependent networks of relationships making up communities, teams and organisations, is hard to make sense of. Dialogue, the discipline of collective learning and inquiry, is a powerful social technology to weave together diverse perspectives and reference points of experience/data into common understanding and shared sets of meanings. William Isaacs, the director of The Dialogue Project at the Organizational Learning Center at MIT, says “dialogue is... a means to explore the underlying incoherence of thought and action that gives rise to the problems we face. It balances more structured problem-solving approaches with the exploration of fundamental habits of attention and assumption behind traditional thinking. By providing a setting in which these subtle and tacit influences on our thinking can be altered, dialogue holds the potential for allowing entirely new kinds of collective intelligence to appear.”
    In my experience, consistent dialoguing practice is scarce in the business world. The pressures of hitting targets creates high urgency, which is counter to the slowed attention and inquiry required for dialogue. Ironically, dialogue is often the very skill that is needed to create the learning the will enable hitting targets (or finding better ones).
    In this workshop we will practice different skills of dialogue. You will be invited to share real things in your life, either personal or professional, to have conversations of learning around.
  • Khali Young

    Khali Young - Facilitating Emergent Change in Business Social Systems

    40 Mins
    “People don't resist change. They resist being changed.” ― Peter Senge
    Change naturally arises out of people having shared understanding of what is happening in an organisational system. By creating system maps that show a shared picture of diverse pain points, we can help cultivate collective motivation for change, that does not alienate anyone. Lean, Agile and other resonant systemic approaches provide a useful library of patterns to tackle systemic improvement with. These understandings can be formed into a shared narrative for change, of sorts. Taking time to create this shared understanding and narrative, unleashes the latent energy for change in a system, such that the change can start to happen by itself, given the right nurturing. Building a change narrative resonant with all stakeholders can require careful framing and social science experimentation.
    Having a frame of experimentation and dialogue cultivates a frame of inquiry and humility, where no one person or faction believes they alone have the answers. Through shared dialogue and experimentation, collaborative systemic improvements emerge. The way of improving the system also is part of the new system that is created.
    The last few years, I have been leading human systems change based on this view of change, using Lean Change methodologies, combined with systems mapping approaches. In this talk I will talk through some of the details of this approach, showing examples of change work I have done.