As humans we learn by analogy, metaphor and simile, adding new knowledge by initially relating the new to our existing understanding of the world. When we try to explain the software development process to the initiated (translation business stake holders), we use all kinds of similes to help them understand the process. The problem with similes is that they argue that something is like something else and many times people confuse the similes with metaphor, thinking that one thing is another. Not only do people confuse simile with metaphor, but many of the similes we use in explaining software development are not appropriate because they can cause more harm than good and they are not very accurate in their explanation.
When I tell people I am an Agile Coach, unless they are in IT, I tend to get a lot of strange looks. Most of the time they will say something like, “I get the coaching part, but what the heck is Agile?” It is at this part of the conversation that they experience immediate regret as I launch into an endless barrage of commentary on Agile development.
Lately, however, I have begun to re-examine my own assumptions about what it the Coaching aspect of an Agile Coach is, especially now that there are so many professional coaches looking for work after the end of the regular NFL season.
I entered my previous post on the subject when I had just begun Taleb’s book Antifragile. As I continue my reading I have run into some very specific passages which lead me to theorize that the reason Agile development works so well is that it is a living, breathing example of what Taleb would call “Antifragile.” I am also coming to the conclusion that Taleb is a truly great contemporary thinker. As I examine my own career, I plan to take to heart many of his suggestions on creating one that is Antifragile.
While I am no in any way paid to sell this book, I encourage all Agile folks to highly consider adding this to their reading list.