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Agile - a rat on a skewer

Steve at Google has posted something thatlooks like it is getting a fair amount of attention. The basic thesis is that Agile is just a pretty handkerchief for the consulting wizards to wave over a hat as they make their client's money disappear but that Google has discovered the "good" agile in the form of free food and public recognition for shipping yet another beta thingie. According to google steve, google project management consists of task queue, an endless trough of tasks to choose from.

The problem with these sorts of comparisons is that they lead to the logical fallacy wherein by agreeing that one side is bad, you are sort of agreeing that the other side is good. Kinda like the armadillo telling the gila monster "you are ugly so I am beautiful". This claim of google's self evident "beauty" based on the fact that google is currently rich and generous so it MUST be uncategorically correct is commonly known as hubris and there are likely a few Greek tragedies where only a few names would need to be changed to match the current situation. Not that the Greeks were the only ones to recognize it. Take a look at a couple of recent silicon valley situations like that at Intel and perhaps HP and you see things like Craig Barrett reaching back into the bag of tricks which he believed got him where he was in an unsuccessful attempt to bring back past glory by going "back to basics".

This sort of "we did it before so we can do it again" thinking is probably something foreign to the mostly young crowd at google, but I had the foolishness of this handed to me on a plate when I attended a yoga class today. Yeah, I might have done it before, but I'm a long way from doing it again. There is hard work ahead. Chanting a slogan was no help. Ooooommmm. Ooooouuuuchhhh

But google steve does have one point right. People. People are essential to almost every human endeavor. Having the wrong people is generally a bad thing. Having the right people is nearly unstoppable. Now, a qualification. "Right" does not always mean the same thing. I am not the "right" person for a number of things. For the most part I know what those things are and I avoid them. You won't catch me on a basketball court anytime soon, but if you lost a necklace in the warm waters off the shore of a sunny Greek island and need help finding it, I can probably be quite handy.

So now enough of emulating the long-winded short-pointed prose of google steve. I'll bring it to a close. There is no magic. There are only people. Good people and bad people. It is hard to tell which is which. Sometime the team works best if there are people on it who are completely different from you. Likely a team of a hundred copies of you is going to have a pretty wide blind spot. Find the people, find what they want to do. Help them do it by any means necessary, food and fleece jackets seem to get google steve going, so try that if he is on your team. Avoid pushing your team backwards and/or sideways. Clear the path and kick the dead rats out of the kitchen.

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