Happy Independence Day

Alan Shalloway, the NetObjectives chief and one of the world’s most prominent Lean Software Devleopment evangelists created a Yahoo! group around “lean-agile-scrum” and invited the NetObjectives/VelocityPartners people (me included) to participate. So I do, sometimes.

I’ve been haunted (haunted I tell you!) about a question that came up a while ago. I’m too lazy to look it up, so I’ll just paraphrase.

“I’m interested in putting up some big visible charts/information radiators, but we don’t have a suitable scrum room/whiteboard and we’re prohibited from putting things up on the cubicle walls. Any advice on a technological solution.”

I responded that he had a deeper problem with the core lean principle of “respect for people” if the office furniture is more important than the people. Most people ignored my comment and actually answered the poor guy’s question. Use a wiki, cardmeeting.com, whatever. Nice, polite, helpful comments, totally missing the point of this guy’s problem.

But I’ve been thinking about that, and I wondered what I was prohibited from doing at my current place of employment. Here’s what I came up with (in no particular order).

Harassment
Assault
Theft
Vandalism
Indecent Exposure

Notice anything in common on that list? Those are all things that are prohibited by law in our free society.

I talk about “values” a lot, and how you can look at intellectual frameworks such as Lean and Agile as pre-packaged sets of values. I don’t think that any of them are definitive, and different groups need to come up with the values that matter to them.

So now, on the eve of the anniversary of the founding of this great nation (and trust me, it’s hard to be very patriotic right now, with the Scooter Libby thing and all) I’m thinking that an important value for companies/collaborative teams…. Liberty.

This is similar to Lean Software’s “Respect for people/Empower the team” value, but I think it’s more than that. People should only be prohibited from doing what harms other people or destroys property. Think John Stuart Mill’s “harm principle”.

And no, tacking up a chart on a cubicle wall doesn’t count as vandalism.

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