In response to the following blog posts regarding management in Agile processes:
Managers Are Grown-ups, too
Can Managers Lead Agile Teams?
I absolutely agree with the premise that one of the reasons Agile works well (when it works) is because it allows the engineers to indiscreetly yet directly and intelligently control and mitigate a manager’s influence – what has failed to be recognized / admitted by the Agile community is that this just inevitably builds new ways (well, not really) to fail (e.g. all the Agile attempts that fail due to mismanagement because the engineers have no better management chops than their managers). It’s about time Agile communities started to address this problem of what really ought to happen to traditional managers and how to inspect, adapt, and improve on the managerial side of the house.
Many managers and management teams use Agile as an excuse to lose cognizance about the what, why, how, and who of the activity of their team. All they feel responsible for under Agile is knowing when things will be done and a summary of the what’s, who’s, and maybe why’s of development activity. This attitude seems to accompany a lack of interest and knowledge regarding the personal interests and motivations of team members and a disconnect with the fact that these concerns are central to their role – that, as managers, they need to be proactive in learning and discerning them.
From the articles, this doesn’t appear to be particularly uncommon in Agile. Either (1) organizations don’t adopt Agile because they see managerial circumvention as inevitable or (2) Agile fails because the necessary leadership doesn’t emerge as is suppose to happen and/or should already be present in existing management.
Either way, if a manager’s primary concern is not his employees and their satisfaction, he is doomed to failure. Employee satisfaction and budget/schedule do not have to be opposing forces. In fact, with a good balance that emphasizes that employees matter first while not excusing poor performance, a manager should find that he gets more bang for his buck out of his employees because they remain retained/loyal, interested, and self-motivated to perform and improve.
Agile is good at evoking these traits within engineers precisely because it puts engineers at the center of the concern of their work. Personally, I suspect the leading reason while Agile is all the rage these days is because older, more standard processes have become more about the bureaucratic machinations of human resources, schedules, man-power allocation, and budgets rather than keeping talented employees happy and involved beyond that of being mere cogs in the work that they are about.
Management is high-level mentoring. As a manager, you must invest yourself and your time in your people and their work; otherwise, your people won’t invest the best of themselves and their time in you and your work. For them, work will be just a timeout from their real life until they can find a better gig.
“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. … The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” Luke 1:31-35
Virgin Mary, Theotokos, God-Bearer, Mother of God. Could she rightly and nobly hold these revered titles from time out of mind if the child that resided within her womb was not actually God as she bore Him?
It may seem an odd question to ask, but if we take the questions being asked today regarding embryonic stem cell research, particularly as it relates to Christian morality and ethics, it begs the question – at what point did Jesus become a person with all human (and divine) dignity?
Most Christians would sputter that the question is non-sense – clearly Jesus was fully divine at the moment of His conception within His virgin mother’s womb. And if we are to assert Christ’s divine personhood within His mother’s womb, then we must also assert his humanity. And thus we’re left to turn the question back around upon ourselves – if Christ was divine (and thus human) at the moment of His conception within His mother’s womb, then why should we not accord the same dignity to others who move through the same human embryonic state of being just as He did?
The Christian ethic is clear – embryos must be accorded the same dignity as any other person if for no other reason than that of Christ, who shared in our humanity from conception to death.
People say they remember things a lot, and while it’s not a lie – it’s not the truth either. I can’t remember the first time I saw pictures of a black Santa Claus or a black Jesus … but I can remember the shock of seeing a very clear depiction of something other than what I had always internalized as something like myself – like myself to a degree that it likely was (and is) false.
Today, I think I found myself on the opposite side of that coin. Some protestant friends of mine were asking me about the perpetual virginity of Mary – which means I implicitly have to give an account that dismisses the full-blood relation of “the brethren”. To be honest, I didn’t do very well, and I am disappointed in myself.
But what struck me was the … pure alien thought that married people would remain celibate. It’s not Mary’s perpetual virginity that gets them, really. It’s the Mary and Joseph abstaining part that really gets them. And they think they have a clincher of an argument that trumps, well, pretty much the entirety of Christian history minus Protestantism that says otherwise, in prooftexts of brethren and James and Thomas/Jude. Even with solid arguments rooted in language, translation, etc that satisfactorily argue the half-blood relation or cousin relation, in the end, it’s the abstinence between man and wife that really confounds them.
I’m not one to make the argument that it’s usual. But then, I’ve also never been one to argue that much about the Holy Family was usual. And, really, it’s their peculiarity that really sets them apart and makes them all the more beautiful.
If in trying to find meaning, today is without any, then why should any of the others? I ask because today felt like a pretty meaningless day.
Whatever meaning there is, we should be able to relate to it at any given moment. Perhaps it is just the soft silhouette of a setting sun upon my childhood, but I seem to remember a time when I knew why all things were special yet reasons were unneeded.
It seems to me our hallowed souls have been harrowed hollow by the wisdom of the age. We know instinctively that there is something to draw us awake from our sleep, to put one foot in front of the other, and continue on with the trappings of life … yet when we ask ourselves what that is, the resounding echo of a faithless soul is too familiar and near overwhelming. For some, the words of faith come to us by rote and litany – as empty as that may seem, I can take comfort that there is at least that much.
It all makes the lyrics terrifyingly familiar:
There’s not time for hatred
what is love?
where is happiness?
what is life?
where is peace?
When will I find the strength
to bring me release?
Where is the love
in what your prophet has said?
Man it sounds to me
just like a prison for the walking damned.
Well I’ve got a message for and your twisted head!
You better turn around and kiss your hope goodbye
to life eternal
Individuality gives way to hedonism and self righteousness. Corporate identity gives way to thoughtless anonymity and slothfulness. Surely there is a middle way.
I think I’ve lost taste for mere ideas. I want to see the example I seek living before me. And I pray I’ll be found willing to follow.
The witness of Christ will stand in relation to the faith as Christ stood in relation to the mystery of His Father in its revelation. To testify to the faith is to participate in the revealing action of the Incarnate Christ who spoke for the Father. The believer shares in that ministry of spreading the knowledge of God.
Bishop Donald W. Wuerl Fathers of the Church
The last sentence is an old idea to me. The preceding sentences define it in a powerful way that had never really had any hold on me before. Scary cool.