- Next week, I am having lunch with a funny redhead that is converting to Judaism.
- Today, in a meeting, I was asked by one of my managers why documentation is less valued in Agile.
- Yesterday, a friend asked me to blog more.
What's the connection? sit back and enjoy a fable...
- Important: this is BY NO MEANS a post about Judaism or religion, though not religious, the belief-set I feel closest to is taoism, so read it as a taoist tale...
Origin: (you can skip it...)
On another occasion it happened that a certain non-Jew came before Shammai and said to him, “I will convert to Judaism, on condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot.” Shammai chased him away with the builder's tool that was in his hand. He came before Hillel and said to him, "Convert me." Hillel said to him, “What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary; go and learn it.”
So, setting up the premise:
Once upon a time, in the far away land of Israel (or elsewhere), there were two schools of Judaism, with a very different approach:
- The house of Shammai, a very strict and righteous school, whose center is the head. Guarding Judaism like a precious stone. lots of processes and rituals, and whose default answer to anything is No, unless proven otherwise (Let's call him the house of Control-centered Project-Management...)
- The house of Hillel, a very promiscuous school, whose center is the heart, one that in case of a doubt says Yes. (Agile, anyone?)
A certain non-jew was curious about the Torah, and wanted to understand what it is about, who knows, perhaps it is a life changer? in which case he was ready for an adventure.
But he doesn't want to study for a lifetime just to find it was a waste of time (would you?)
So, this poor chap searches for someone smart and serious to explain what is this Torah (the documentation of Judaism?), so he understands and can decide what to do...
- He arrives to the house of the distinguishes wise-man Shammai, knocks on the door, and once (grumpy - I guess) Rabbi Shammai himself opens the door, he asks him for something very strange...
And the answer he received is... He is being chased away with a broom...
This poor chap is quite determined,though.
He doesn't give up, there is another house just around the corner,the house of Hillel.
-Again, a frap on the door, again the door opens,
This time, it is opened by old-Hillel himself..
And again - the Koan is given: "Could you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot?"
--- What happens now never ceases to amaze me ---
He receives a two (I imagine, even, three) part answer:
0. (I imagine) a big reassuring smile.
1. "What you hate being done to you, don't do to your fellow (wo)men"
2. "The rest is just commentary, now go and read it."
- Once you are spoken to with a smile, and once you know what it is about, the rest is 'just' details, enjoy it as you want.
Or, while we value documentation, we value a clear, sincere, and respectful intention more.
I could talk about user-stories, about a company mission-statement, about the value of a smile and a trust, etc. but I'll stop here.
Hope you liked it! I would love to know what you think! (*) (*) If you write a comment, note - the google beast sometime swallows it without a trace, like it did to the previous version of this post, please keep it to re-publish...
Any living thing: an animal, a (wo)man, an organisation, a country.
An identity can give us a focus, a direction, and a sense of harmony.
Being a dancer unites you to move as one, being an artist focuses your search for beauty and expression.
You see a dancer when you meet one, you recognize an artist in a glance.
And a human with no purpose may be lost, feel insignificant, and lose direction.
So may an organisation...
Today I propose a game, to define an organisation's identity thru building it a physical metaphor.
ACMS (A Company that Makes Something, as opposed to ACME) , an IT company, think of their identity, and are passionate about innovation - they yearn to generate and drive new innovative ideas.
That's an exciting decision, for sure, but decisions that are taken by a management are diluted and misinterpreted when diffused along the corporate chain, can we help them inject the value of innovation to the company's DNA?
Can we put this intention in the way ACMS is actually structured? physically, I mean, in the offices where the people (who are, after all, the real soul of the company) work and play?
Step 1: Define you HEART !
In this case, it would be building the innovation rooms. let's imagine what's inside:
- Writing and drawing materials full of color, games, playdough, aprons, disguises, etc.
In our case, (let's say) the Product-Owners generate and examine ideas, argue, and come up with mockups, prototypes and half baked ideas.
Sometimes they go to the heart to make noise and generate innovative ideas, but sometimes they are quietly working at their post, they need this quiet, but they also need the noise close by.
Hence - we put the POs around the Center and isolate the center's noise from them.
They don't work in a vacuum, do they?
Do they work with the technical teams? the ones who examine the feasibility of the ideas? The sales that needs to validate the prototypes with customers ?
Step 3: Who do the people at the heart vitally need?
Let's put the technical people, and the sales people around the POs, so communication is easy and flawless,
- the people around are usually divided into clusters, marketing and dev (perhaps) don't communicate much, do they? and dev is composed of several teams.
These layers are vital for the generation of Innovation, since they are the Innovation generators and their supporters, but of course there are other vital department: HR, IT, etc.
These are a vital part of the organization, but not vital for its heart to grow, hence they are on the exterior (like petals of a flower.)
Step 4: Connect the rest ofthe organisation, as petals to a flower's center, as satellites to planets.
This way, they are far from the heart's buzz, (that isn't vital for them) but are still connected and ripples by the heart.
Step 5: Add spices
- To help people work in quiet, sprinkle some noise isolation movable wall (that can be also used for postits?) . office toys (centered around innovation)
- To contain standups, talks, etc - add (noise isolated) meeting rooms, surround your space with it, in abundance.
- Put everything on wheels if you want your company dynamic, and dont - if you are about stability.
- You can color code desks and chairs by teams to visualise roles.
Put a big sign in the entrance; "ACMS - Innovation is at our heart!" et Voila!
The result may look like this:
And now what?!
Of course - let's smash the old buildings and build a new and great home for our spirit!
But even if not, an image of this new home, presented in this way to all members of ACMS, may start aligning intentions, making connection, and make people realize what their common vision is...
Note: once the goal of the ACMS changed, and becomes (For instance) "We are about our clients", the heart changes (more phones, monitors, lists of clients, etc), the people who were outside (sales?) now move inside, etc...)
What do you think?
------------------------ --- After-thought (or giving credit where it is due...)----
Oh! I just realized something important!
This idea (as most) is in no way my own!
It was highly inspired from the city my heart yearns to - Auroville.
- The city is a spiral shape (like a hurricane)
- And is built around the Matrimandir which s at it's heart:
A round (non-religious) temple to meditate in.
A few differences:
- The Matrimandir is the most silent place in the city, while ACMS's heart room is the noisiest.
- Of course corporates and spirituality don't go well together... (or do they?!)
But I do believe any business has to have a soul in order to survive, thrive and grow,
So why not treat it as a pure one?