Gandhi on Agile



Okay, Gandhi never said anything about Agile, per sé.  But, he did talk about change.  And, in many organisations, Agile is a huge change to the status quo.  So, perhaps there is something for us to learn from a very wise, very successful change agent.


“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”
  ~ Mahatma Gandhi

As an XP Coach, I’m often asked how to implement Agile in an environment of resistance.  Depending on my familiarity with the environment in question, I may respond in many different ways.  But, the truth is that none of my answers are as succinct or as accurate as this quote from Gandhi.  How can I, in good conscience, ask my team to do something that I myself will not do?  So, before I even ask others to participate, I must first change myself.


Start with small changes.  Write a test.  Get it working.  Then, refactor the code to keep it simple.  If possible, ask someone on your team to sit with you while you do it.  Finished one test?  Pass the keyboard, and start another.  Cube not comfortable for two?  Rearrange the furniture, or book a conference room for an hour.  Whatever you do, be the change you want to see!


“To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest.”
  ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Ouch!  Well, I suppose.  To say that I value Feedback, but then only release software once every N months is at least hypocritical.  To say that I value Simplicity, but then run off and design a framework to support future extensions to my software doesn’t really jive, either.  I must align my values with my actions.  In fact, Gandhi had something to say about that, too:


“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
  ~ Mahatma Gandhi

But, how is that possible on a team with zero buy-in?  How can I get the team to do something different when I am not in a position to mandate the change?  Again, the answer is to start small, with the only thing you can control – your own actions. 


Want feedback about your component?  Release it to the team early and solicit comments.  Better yet, release it with tests and ask for people to suggest areas you might have missed.  Once others on the team realize your success, they’ll want to know more about how you work.  Which brings me to the last quote of the day:


“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”
  ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Amen, brother!  Amen!

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