The week of November 14th, I spent 3 days with fellow developers, leaders, and Agilists at the Techwell-organized AgileDev / Better Software/ DevOps East Conference and the Agile Leadership Summit. The keynotes and sessions were well attended, as well as the "hallway breakouts." As a compulsive note taker, I came back with 53 pages of notes, everything from more books on my to-read list, to "Aha!" insights. Here, I would like to share a few of my key takeaways from the conference…
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What's the opposite of fragile?
Most people would answer "robust" or "resilient." If we subject something that is fragile to stress, shock, randomness or volatility, we can expect that it will be harmed. If we do the same to something that is robust or resilient, we can expect that it will resist harm - but won't be any better off than when we started. But what if something that is subjected to stress, shock, randomness or volatility actually benefited? That would be the opposite of fragile: antifragile. This is the core theme of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder.
Accountability and commitment. We hear these words a lot in the business and Agile world, but what do they mean, and how do we do them well?
We've all seen instances of "accountability" in the form of blaming and shaming: ("Whose fault is it?" and "What were you thinking?) These are the forms that accountability takes in a fear-based organization. The blaming and shaming approach to accountability creates unhealthy stress, shuts down creativity, and limits the success that people and organizations can achieve to only what is achievable via "safe" choices.
However, some people and organizations that have rejected a fear-based culture, and the blaming and shaming that go with it, may swing the other way, and avoid holding people accountable at all. I don't know how to hold you to account without blaming and shaming you, so I won't say anything at all, even though your work or follow-through has not met my expectations or the organization's standards. You might have experienced this dilemma. But surely this can't be the only alternative?