So I was re-reading the Hobbit for the 4th time last week and I came across a link to Agile that I didn’t expect. I must admit I am a bit more of a Lord of the Rings reader as I have read those books closing on 10 times. But I was inspired by the Hobbit movies and thought I should re-read the Hobbit since I haven’t read the book in over 10 years. I came across this passage.
“I’m awfully sorry,” said Bilbo, “but I have come without my hat, and I have left my pocket-handkerchief behind, and I haven’t got any money. I didn’t get your note until after 10.45 to be precise.” “Don’t be precise,” said Dwalin, “and don’t worry!
You will have to manage without pocket-handkerchiefs, and a good many other things, before you get to the journey’s end. As for a hat, I have got a spare hood and cloak in my luggage.” That’s how they all came to start, jogging off from the inn one fine morning just before May, on laden ponies; and Bilbo was wearing a dark-green hood (a little weather-stained) and a dark-green cloak borrowed from Dwalin.”
What a great analogy for planning and a project. While I support some planning, I would never recommend being precise. Because so many things will change in the coming months that the effort to be precise will be wasted effort. I also like the counsel to not worry. I have worked on projects with very technically skilled teammates who struggled in Agile because they wanted the perception of certainty. When they no longer had that perception of certainty they worried about everything. In truth, the Agile project had more certainty than traditional projects, but this one individual had more concern due to the lack of large bloated documents. A shame really.
Finally I love how the following passage also promotes cross-functional teams and an Agile mindset. In the story, Dwalin gives Bilbo his spare hood and cloak and counsels him on how he doesn’t really need that pocket-handkerchief. Just because you always used one in our situations doesn’t mean they are truly required in all situations. I also love how Dwalin steps in and provides whatever the team needs at that time. Doesn’t matter whose responsibility it is, just figure our a way to solve a problem and help the team succeed.
Who would have thought John Ronald Ruel Tolkien was an Agilist?