"Agility is a new hype" said Poh, "new?" answered Piglet

December 9, 2016 · Book Agile

Last summer, I read one book. This is memorable enough to be noticed. I am an avid audio-consumer (either Podcasts or via Audible as you might remember) but cannot seem to make much room for reading nowadays.

Anyhow. The book is called The Te of Piglet but I like the German title better: "Winnie Pooh, Piglet and the virtue of idleness". It is an introduction to Taoism. While this has nothing to do with agility, the following paragraph (about 2/3 in the book) didn't go unnoticed:

If we were asked to condense Taoist teachings regarding everyday life to their irreducible essentials, we would say: Observe, Deduce, and Apply.

Watch what is around you - putting aside, as best you can, previous conceptions that you or others might have about it. Ideally, look at it as though you were seeing it for the first time. Mentally reduce it to its basic elements - "See simplicity in complexity," as Lao-tse put it. Use intuition as well as logic in order to understand what you see (a vital difference between the Whole Reasoner and the Left-Brain Technician). Look for connections between one thing and another-notice patterns and relationships. Study the natural laws you see operating through them.

Then work with those laws, applying the smallest possible amount of interference and effort, in order to learn more and achieve whatever you need to-and no more.

I annotated this passage right away, replacing "taoist" with "agile". I find it particularly convincing. Try it for yourself.

In November, I held a talk called "Agile Mythbusters" at the XP-Days conference in Hamburg. Among other things, I attacked the idea that "agility is a new hype" by saying "hype maybe, but certainly not new". Instead of argumenting that it might by already 15 or 30 years old, I read this passage, removing all traces that could give it up as a book about taoism, and then claimed that agility might be a few thousand years old...

Apparently I wasn't the only one to be convinced, many people have asked my for the exact references about the book since.

So is agile a new hype? Should I look for agility into taoism a little bit more?

Image Source: TAOISM by Joan Vila (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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