Scalzi school of agile


John Scalzi is one of my favourite authors — Warren Ellis (not a bad writer himself) calls his work “frictionless high-speed platinum-pulp science fiction storytelling” which seems to sum it up. His stuff reminds me of the best of Joss Whedon — without really being much like it.

Anyway this isn’t about that. In his latest novel (which I devoured) there is this slightly throwaway passage (from a plot point of view) that just chimed with me so significantly I had to tweet it straight away. Then realised that tweet would be too ephemeral so I needed to capture it here as well.

This passage sums up my approach to agile ways of working:

..the understanding that the plan was not the goal. The goal was the goal, and we were going to get to it however we could. And if that meant changing our plans, sometimes in the middle of executing them, then we would.
Emperox Rachela I

For me plans are fictions, means to an end, moments in time. They only exist as a stepping stone towards getting to the goal. To delivering on the vision. This is why I love agile and lean approaches. It is also why I dislike agile and lean methodologies. When the plan and the process becomes more important than the goal you lose. This is when things start to become ‘cargo cult’-y.

I’m not saying that plans aren’t important. The discipline of planning is vital and god knows I love a roadmap but the plan is not the goal.

The goal is the goal.

Always.

So thank you Prophet-Emperox Rachela I, founder of the Interdependency and Savior of Humanity for the inspiration.