Becoming an Agile Leader : Jedi wisdom

As I was just about to sleep today, the Force inspired me to write the below for leaders who are new to the Agile world. This is not comprehensive (nothing ever is), however for a new agile leader, this is a good place to start. The wisdom of star wars and the jedi knights is as helpful to you to transition to agile as it is in the overall journey of life.

1. “Do or do not… there is no try.” — Yoda

You gotta commit and just go for it! There is a lot of learning to do and lot of skepticism when you start, however if you wait to have all the answers before really giving it a shot, you will have already missed the boat. If you go in with an attitude of let me try the new but also do the old (to cover yourself just in case), then it won’t happen. Once you decide to be agile, do it. Pick up a few starting points whether you agree fully or not, whether you are convinced or not, give it your best shot. See what happens.

2. “You will find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” — Obi-Wan Kenobi

Truth is relative. It has its time and place. What served you well so far, may not be sufficient for the present and especially for the future. Be willing and open to learn and more importantly, unlearn. Challenge your own beliefs ruthlessly. Not all wisdom is throw-away, but challenge it nonetheless and see from another point of view.

3. “Impossible to see, the future is.” — Yoda

Plan for the future, but just enough detail as is necessary for a given horizon. Make sure you have a roadmap. But do not over indulge in details for the far off horizon. Future changes and so will your plans. Its OK to not know everything to the last detail.

4. “All mentors have a way of seeing more of our faults than we would like. It’s the only way we grow.” — Padme

Good agile coaches / mentors will challenge you and your beliefs – much more than you would expect. They are helping you change. They want to pull you out of your comfort zone. Many of them may have walked your road before. Don’t follow blindly, but do listen. Have a dialogue. Be open to change.

5. “To answer power with power, the Jedi way this is not. In this war, a danger there is, of losing who we are.” — Yoda

The Agile environment thrives on servant leadership, not a command and control structure. Command and control is not the way of an Agile leader. Engagement and commitment is the way to get things done by an agile team, not authority

6.”If no mistake have you made, yet losing you are … a different game you should play.” – Yoda

Inspect and Adapt is at the heart of an empirical method such as Agile. There is no alternative to frequent retrospectives. Do them to learn and change for the better. There is no best way either (or best practice). There are better ways and you will discover them as you move along. Do controlled experiments. Shorten your feedback loops. Fail fast. Inspect and Adapt.

7. “When you look at the dark side, careful you must be … for the dark side looks back.” — Yoda

For your team, you are the role model. Your personal buy-in and commitment will be reflected in the team behavior. What you think important is important for them. What you don’t care, they will not care too. Walk the talk !! Be Agile and your teams will be agile too.

Hope this Jedi wisdom propels you further on the journey of agility !!

Remember.. the Force will be with you.. Always !!

Hrishikesh Karekar

Hrishikesh is an enterprise agile coach with interests in varied disciplines. Frequently writing on Agile and Lean related topics, he also occasionally ventures into other stuff like Artificial Intelligence as well..

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