Rewiring "Agile" Identity: Overcoming Tribal Fragility in the Agile Community

The Manifesto for Agile Software Development was written by a group of people who came together to think together and record their thinking in a document to share with the world. There is no doubt that the Agile Manifesto has had a profound impact on the way many people think about work and life. It has shaped the world of work in countless ways.

As people come to identify themselves both individually and collectively by the doctrines of a manifesto, elevating it to the status of immutable sacred text is both tempting and comforting. Indeed, there are many examples of how highly-cohesive, cultish and fragile social groups vociferously defend the immutability of their founding ideas, manifestos and mission statements. The upholding of the transcendent status of their charismatic tribal leaders who provide rallying cries from the pulpit is vigorously pursued.

Unsustainable as a movement, within one to two generations disintegrative patterns begin to emerge. Out of a desire to protect its aims and interests, the community becomes inward looking and insular. Insularity creates unnatural stressors that degrade integrity. Jockeying, antipathy, animosity and infighting among tribal leaders (especially if the movement is closely tied to their individual material gain) gradually escalate to the point of schism, fragmentation and multiplication of competing variations of ideology. Estrangement and apathy retard progress and stagnate intellectual activity. Some of the most influential, wide-spread and world-shaping movements have succumbed to this kind of collapse.

We need not regard such susceptibility to inward collapse--such fragility--as an abomination, something to mock or scorn--something that only happens to other movements, other people with different beliefs and superstitions from our own. Identity is such a powerful human need that human beings will go to any length to preserve it, even to the point of self-ruin. It is social. It seeks belonging.

Social cohesion galvanizes the identity of the individual. Much of this occurs at the level of the sub-conscious. In its noblest forms of expression, it has lead to the highest achievements of humanity. However, identity can be blind, and in most cases has its blind spots. It can lead us down a dark and perilous path. For identity to remain grounded in reality and illumined by truth, the thinking behind identity needs to be explored and understood more deeply.

In this 90-minute session, participants will have the opportunity to think together--as the authors of the Manifesto did--in a safe and collaborative environment. Content gleaned from contributors to the discourse such as Senge, Schon, Kahneman, Bohm, Deming, Immelman and Taleb will help to guide and anchor the conversation.

The goal of the seminar is not to rewrite the Agile Manifesto. Rather, it is an opportunity to better understand, together, what it means to be "Agile", an "Agilist", to potentially discover some new thoughts and ways of thinking about agility and to offer a humble contribution to the broader discourse for the betterment of all and towards the greater resilience of the community as a whole.

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

  • Open Dialogue
    • Why are you here?
    • What are you thinking about?
    • What are you working on?
    • What problems are you trying to solve?
    • What do you want to talk about?
  • Introduction of Content (specific content selected based on where the Open Dialogue takes us)
    • Senge
    • Schon
    • Kahneman
    • Bohm
    • Deming
    • Immelman
    • Taleb
  • How does this content inform our thinking?
  • What insights does the content provide in light of our own experience and context?
  • How can we help others to think about these ideas?
  • Who can we bring into a discourse around these ideas?
  • What actions can we undertake in order to test the validity of these ideas in our own context?
  • What will be different when we leave this seminar?

Learning Outcome

  • Thinking deeply in a group about profound and important concepts and questions;
  • Double-loop learning: examining beliefs, preconceived notions and assumptions about reality and adapting them towards clearer, more rational and more realistic thought (i.e. "letting go");
  • Struggling together and supporting one another through the necessary discomfort of the process;
  • Learning to engage and trust in a profound learning process.

Target Audience

People who want to think with other people.

Prerequisite

Try to set aside preconceived notions and prejudices.

schedule Submitted 1 week ago

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