Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Introspective: Max allowed BMI at the Gym

As I've mentioned before, I'm overweight and have been for the majority of my life. I've been trying to change my habits and behaviors to foster increased health in hopes of lowering my BMI (Body Mass Index). One of the behaviors that I'm trying to make a habit is attending the gym regularly.

I have a friend that I usually work out with, and we've had conversations before about how non-judgmental most people at the gym are (at least at my gym). We've talked about how detrimental it would be to someone's health to feel unwelcome at the gym exactly because they are overweight and needed it more than those who are already fit. What good would a gym be if it had a maximum allowed BMI required for admittance?

Gyms want overweight people to go to the gym so that they can improve their quality and quantity of life. They know that not everyone who signs up will show up, and they know that not everyone who shows up will attain the same results. That doesn't stop them from doing everything they can to provide options and incentives for people to get the most out of their membership. Gyms would love for everyone to get down to a certain BMI or PBF (Percent Body Fat) and increase their lean muscle mass and stamina. Yet they also celebrate with those who are still overweight but have manage to get off of half their blood pressure medications. It's about developing a mindset and behaviors that help people trend towards greater health.

One thing that really bothers me is when "Pure Agilists" declare that you must be doing certain things or following certain methodologies or frameworks to be considered Agile. They further condemn any organization that's not operating under their gold standard of Agile. Some examples I've heard recently include: "If you have a hardening Sprint then you're not Agile"; "If you estimate in hours then you're not Agile"; "If your Scrum Masters aren't dedicated then you're not Agile"; "If your customers can't get involved daily with the team then you're not Agile"; "If your approach isn't endorsed by one of the original Manifesto signatories then you're not Agile"; etc.

As an Agile Coach, I have in my mind what I think an "ideal" Agile team looks like. Just as a team should have a Product Vision and a Technical Vision that guide the team's plans, they should have an Agile Vision to help guide their practices. Mine Vision is basically a flat organization of self-organized teams that are running DevOps using Kanban or something similar. They leverage SOA and have near-perfect APIs, making dependency management trivial. Production releases occur as frequently as new functionality is developed with zero defects slipping to production and high levels of customer delight. The teams are like families and there is no overtime.

Now I'd like you to take a stab at what my teams actually look like. Spoilers: it's not what I just described. It is impossible for an organization that is entrenched in heavyweight policies, Waterfall approaches, and a Command-and-Control management style to up an become "Pure Agile" one morning. It's too painful to succeed. What they can do is establish an Agile mentality and start making incremental changes. As they cut waste and increase value, they'll find themselves more and more resembling an ideal Agile organization.

"Scrum...but" gets a lot of flack, but I'd rather work with a "Scrum...but" team that's trying to continuously improve than a Waterfall team that thinks it's got it figured out. There is not maximum allowed waste cutoff for teams to start trying to improve. Those who promote Agile approaches need to be more open-minded about what is and isn't "permissible" for an organization that's trying to adopt Agile.

I had the opportunity to present on Agile to the local PMI chapter last night. For many of them, it was their introduction to Agile. If I'd have told them they had to go all or nothing, they would have shut down. My focus was on the Manifesto and its Principles, then showing them just how many Agile tools are at their disposal. I told them to respect reality, learn what's available, and continuously improve. Isn't that what Agile is really all about?

I know this is probably going to rustle some jimmies, and that's okay; if your jimmies are rustled, let me know why. What do you not agree with? How am I wrong? I don't claim perfection, and I'd love to learn from your perspectives.

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