Agile as the Path to Happiness?

Hacker News LinkedIn Facebook Twitter by Abby Fichtner

Be happy with agile! This might be a sign that I’m working too much, but I keep finding myself making analogies between agile software development and how I want to be living my life.

As strange as it sounds, I think it stems from how crazy life can be and how agile seems to have found some good tricks for taming the chaos. Agile methodologies are, after all, built to deal with the high levels of change and uncertainty in software development. And, let’s face it,

software’s level of change and uncertainty ain’t got nothing on life

Agile says screw waterfall because we don’t even know all of the information up front to enable perfectly detailed, fail-proof plans. And even if we did somehow bizarrely know everything there is to know about what needs to get done, the world around us is changing so quickly it’ll become out of date (read: wrong) almost immediately.

So, striving for perfection is futile because:
a) we can’t even define perfection, and
b) even if we could, that definition would change before we could achieve it.

If we foolishly listen to conventional wisdom and find ourselves going down this path, our only option will be failure.

What we can do though is figure out one small piece of the puzzle that we do know today and quickly go implement that before it changes. Wasting time with a bunch of formal plans and high ceremony is counter-productive at this point and just as likely to make us fail as it is to help us. And who wants a bunch of plans and documents anyway? Wouldn’t we rather working software that we can use?

Or, in lifeā€¦ (this post was supposed to be about life, wasn’t it?), I want to have achieved some small measure of happiness by accomplishing or obtaining or getting to experience that one thing that – even if small – is giving me something that I’m confident I want.

What do you think? Is it time for a mandatory vacation to the loony bin? Or is there maybe some wisdom in agile that can extend beyond banging out code?

  • Anonymous

    I can totally relate. I remember telling my Grandmother about various things that I wanted to do with my life and when some of those things happened for me she would make a really big deal about it, always looking me in the eye and saying “hey, you got what you wanted”. Now, some years after her passing and getting a lot of stuff that I thought I wanted but didn’t I’ve come to realize part of what she meant is that you better be really confident about what it is that you want, cause there is a good chance you are going to get it. If living life the Agile way is going to help identify what you want with confidence, then huzzah for Agile!