I want to change the world.
There, I said it.
I don’t just want a comfortable life (though I sure wouldn’t mind if that happens too) or a fun job (also nice but not my highest goal). I want to make a difference, to leave things better than I found them, to be part of something transformational.
The CEO of the firm I work with talked about this goal recently as the ‘uber purpose’ of our company (and he wasn’t talking about our new taxi policy). Even as we pursue our other company purposes he wants us to keep in mind the higher goal of changing the way our industry operates.
This personal purpose of changing the world is what attracted me to Agile. Sure I think it’s a better way to design, develop, and deploy high quality software than the traditional waterfall method, but that practical benefit makes it expedient rather that compelling. I don’t read and write and talk about Agile because I think it’s useful; I do it because I think it offers an approach to both working and living that I believe can be transformative.
The values and principles behind Agile aren’t just about effective software development; they are about a better way to work and live (even the fact that Agile has a statement of values and principles rather than merely talking about methods or techniques differentiates it from a simple work tool). You can check these principles out here if you aren’t familiar with them already. Two of them stand out in particular:
Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
The values behind these principles – namely that people can be trusted and in fact will do their best work when they are trusted and supported rather than when they are pushed or externally managed – represent a different way of organizing work. Treating people this way shapes not only the culture of work but also who we become as people.
Even as the Agile methodology becomes more widely embraced across the software development industry these underlying principles and values don’t always get the full attention I think they deserve. Sure I want my company and the wider industry to work more effectively but that’s not what motivated me to start this blog or what keeps me talking about ‘Agility’ in work and life. I think there’s something potentially transformational here. And if I can be part of changing the world by changing myself, the people I work and live with, and the people and companies I interact with then I want to do it. Of course I know that in truth it’s not that simple, but it still motivates me.
Because I want to change the world.