Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Introspective: Moist Robots

I liked this book so much I bought it
for my brother's graduation gift!
One thing you need to know about me is that I'm a huge fan of Mr. Scott Adams of Dilbert fame. Sure his Dilbert comics are funny, but I'm much more fascinated by his non-Dilbert writing. I'm over halfway through his latest book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, and it's a fascinating read. One concept that he's hit on multiple times, both in his book and in past blog posts, is the concept that humans are much more like moist robots than logical, rational beings. What we believe to be free will doesn't actually exist; all choices are determined by a combination of previous experiences, our body's current chemical makeup, environmental conditions, etc.

While I don't fully agree with Mr. Adams on the matter of free will, his hypothesis has tuned me into things that are easy to control and also lead to good decision making (versus leaving choices as hard and having to exert willpower, which is unsustainable). I was able to flesh these thoughts out a little more when a co-worker of mine asked me to revise one of our proposals to Agile2014 in response to the reviews we were getting. Our proposal, entitled "The Secret Sauce of Agile" (I'm open to alternative titles, by the way), builds on Mr. Adam's hypothesis that we are moist robots. I'd love your feedback on it.

Now let's switch gears and talk about how hard it is for lifelong fat people (such as myself) to lose weight. This is another topic that Mr. Adams covers in his book (though I haven't gotten to that part yet). I've had periods of relative health, but it's only considered health relative to the rest of my life. Compared to people who are actually healthy people, I don't think I can say I've ever been healthy. So I've been trying to get healthy by using the concept that we are moist robots. I have been on the lookout for things around me that are easy for me to control which will, in turn, make it easier to make healthy choices.

A lot of the things I am doing are just good sense: don't buy unhealthy food at the grocery store; don't go shopping when I'm hungry; don't carry change and small bills for vending machines; pack my breakfast and lunch; carry a water bottle; keep gym clothes in my vehicle; etc. The idea is to not focus on changing the hard things. I'm not going on a grapefruit juice diet. It's just not going to happen. But I can change a bunch of little things quite easily so that, when the time comes to choose between healthy and unhealthy, I can pick healthy choices while expending the least amount of willpower. After all, we humans have limited willpower to expend daily (some more than others).

This is applicable to everyone and everything. Use this with your Agile teams. What problems are the team having? What small, simple things can be done to prevent those problems from surfacing? What tweaks in the way your team runs can be applied to make it easier for each person to make more Agile choices? Seriously, what? Bring this concept to the table and let me know how it goes!

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