Certainty of death. Small chance of success. What are we waiting for?
— Gimli, son of Glóin
I remember the instant my future was revealed. I can’t think if it without smiling. Years before, I had worked as a project manager at an e-commerce agency, and the experience made me never want to work around software development or project management ever again. After that job, I went to work at a small company outside of the technology industry.
Now I was being invited into a company that did agile, and when I walked into the place, it was a moment of profound clarity. People were working together in groups. No offices. Desks on wheels. Monitors everywhere showing what was going on. Whiteboards covered every bit of available space. Conversation was happening everywhere. I could feel the creation happening in the room. In that instant, I knew this was what I wanted to do.
During the interview, someone observed that it looked like I had a lot of senior experience. Why are you interviewing for this slot?
“…well, I was invited.”, was my response.
I got hired, and I learned Jeffy’s First Law of Work:
When you are invited, say yes.
I’ve been working in this field for seven years, and am now working with people that have had a much different “first contact” with new approaches to work. These people aren’t necessarily excited, or even curious. Some are after a new set of initials. Some are learning because their boss told them too.
Transformation is something that’s done to you, and must be managed.
…and now old, familiar impediments are appearing, and with them, old, familiar reactions for how to deal with them. The corporate culture isn’t right! We didn’t have the support of top executives! We haven’t successfully crossed the chasm! The old managers are dumb, and we need to replace them with bright, shiny new managers….and so on…
It is the same list that I learned over 20 years ago in graduate school, when we were learning about resistance to PCs and client-server technology. Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.
I am not in such a hurry to win the old prizes, when the days that must happen to us are still dawning.
Principles and values that can start you off on a different approach can lead to something authentically new. If we allow, what can emerge from the work can be something that we can’t conceive of yet. You can’t buy it, because you don’t know what it is, or even what it isn’t. You’re not going to find it from a model, a brand, a certification, or any form you’re comfortable with.
What the journey starts off with is an invitation. Someone asks a question. You trade a smile with someone. You get messages from places you’ve never heard of before.
In my book, when an invitation like that arrives, the answer is going to be yes. That is all that is needed to begin, and beginning is where it’s at.