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Peace, Love, and Agility?

Mike Cottmeyer Chief Executive Officer
Reading: Peace, Love, and Agility?

I am fascinated right now by the question of what comes first… agile thinking or agile doing? Does the agile mindset have to precede implementing agile mechanics? Could we lead an agile transition by implementing the structure of agile and coach people into thinking agile while we do it?

Last night I happened to be listening to an audio version of CS Lewis’ “Mere Christianity”. I was in a section of the book where Lewis was talking about the idea of Christian love. He was making the point that God expects us to ACT with love towards others even if we do not FEEL love towards others. The act of treating people with love would engender the feeling.

As you might imagine, that got my attention. Here I am driving home contemplating the relationship between religion and agile leadership.

Don’t feel bad, my wife thinks I am strange too.

Peace, love, and agility? What’s this guy talking about? I guess I better hurry up and make my point. Let me do that by sharing a couple of examples…

As a married person, I may not always feel love toward my wife. There might be times when I don’t even like her, but… I am always expected to treat her with love. If I consciously act in a loving way, it will create space for the feeling to be sustained.

I happen to be a Catholic. Over the past few years I have worked quite a bit with the teens in my Church. Teens tend to have issue with all the “rules” in Catholicism. They just don’t get why we have all the rules. If the message of the Bible is love, isn’t that all that matters?

My typical answer goes something like this… yes, the message is love. That is all that matters. The challenge is that as human beings, we don’t always understand what love really means. I often use the example of two teens that use “love” as a justification to have premarital sex. The rules of the Church around sex help us to understand what a right understanding of love really is.

Are the rules around sex the main point of their existence? No. Do they help us along the way to understanding what it means to love and to love consistently with how God loves? I think yes. The rules, the mechanics if you will, bring us closer to the truth. They are a means to an end, not the end itself.

So our question remains… can the rules of agile help us develop agility where it does not exist? Can we be asked to behave in an agile way regardless of how agile we might feel at any given moment? Can structure create better agilists? If acting with love can engender loving feelings, can acting with agility engender agile thinking?

I think so. I would be interested to know what you think.

Next Planning for Value

Comments (4)

  1. Anonymous

    I like your thinking. I saw a business track speaking proposal for EclipseCon (March 2008) about Agile.

    I hope to come out of this fast talk with some answers. I believe the speaker may address some of these same thoughts in his blog. There are plenty of Agile skeptics, and just as many misconceptions…

  2. Anonymous

    Can acting agile lead you to agility? Will acting like a Christian lead you to Christianity?

    Maybe. “Acting” in either case can not guarantee success but they are critical steps in the right direction.

    In both cases we immerse our selves in the Word, listen to guidance from others who help us understand and when the rules are followed, both yield immense rewards. I might also add that both require continuous demonstration of trust, faith, and forgiveness without which they would fail.
    The difference is that as an Agile coach, I don’t have an Agile Spirit to guide me. In that, I am all too human. I give it my all and then trust the Lord to decide if that is enough of if he wants to chip in. I pray before classes and meetings that my listeners understand my words and actions and I know sometimes I have wisdom far beyond my own experience.
    Down here in the Bible belt – we really appreciate such things and so will many of your customers.
    I have other analogies that are more “acceptable” though that I could share.

  3. Mike Cottmeyer

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I had a noticeable drop in subscribers the day I published this article. I might be interested in some of your more “acceptable” analogies.


    I actually like looking for agile analogies in real life: in my faith, in my family, in the places I volunteer, etc. Principles that are true should work no matter where you apply them. Leadership, empowerment, trust, elevating people and putting them first; these are things that are important at work and in life.

    If these ideas are trancendent, if empowering people matters, if elevating the human condition is important, if treating people with respect is a worthy goal can we be so sure that the Holy Spirit will not honor and guide our efforts?

    I am not sure I am ready for the bumber sticker “Jesus is my Agile Coach” but I would think that creating better work environments is something He would support.

    Just a thought.

  4. David Todaro

    Mike, please keep thinking the way you are thinking and don’t be discouraged by loss of subscriptions. As a Christian and as an Agile leader always looking to sharpen my skills, I think you posed a great question. I have noticed strong correlation between the 4 Agile values/12 Agile principles, and what I understand the Bible to teach on leadership and human relationships. The congruence between Agile leadership and my faith, is what led me to pursue Agility as a professional. And oh by the way, you just earned my subscription!


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