Agile Living

I yearn to be consistent. I want my professional values to be the same as my personal ones. This is why I was quick to sign the Agile Manifesto; it aligned with my personal values.

The 4-Hour WorkweekI have been overcommitted for the last couple of months and the stress has forced me to do some professional reevaluation. I had  a number of entrepreneurial and professional books on my back log. One of the book was The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss.

I really like this book.

That’s nice, Christopher. Thanks for sharing. What does this have to do with software development?

Not a  lot. Perhaps. But I think it has a lot to do with the philosophy of Agile.

Eschew BDUF

One of the first ideas in the book is that the notion that retirement is a bit silly. We spend forty something odd years saving up money to retire and for what? How do we really know what to save up for? Do we honestly know what our requirements for old age will be? The standard cultural approach to professional life is Waterfall. We spend so much time building our product, and we have one big rollout.

Iterative Design

I recently watched the film Holiday with Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. In the movie, a young and savvy Johnny Case (Grant) struggles between Doing Business (because that’s sensible) and taking time off to figure out what he wants out of life. Ferris makes a similar proposition in the book. He suggests planning mini-retirements. It’s a release often, release early approach to life. Discover what you want you by trying things out. It’s Life in Sprints.

Illusion of Slackness

Agile has had a bad rep for being unstructured and lacking in discipline. Of course, practitioners of Agile know the exact opposite is the case (and let that be a life lesson in itself). One of the things I love about Agile is the focus on delivering value. Likewise, my initial perception of the book was that it was a guide for the lazy; just another Get Rich Quick scheme. No, it’s about being deliberate with your life. It’s not a book that most people can use, because it requires disciple.

Eliminate Waste

If I’m being technical, I guess I would say that this is a Lean principle. However, Lean and Agile are complimentary ingredients in the tossed salad that is my head. Ferris applies this principle to all of life. It’s a beautiful thing. There’s a lot of waste in our lives, hidden under the veil of busyness. Find it and eliminate it. Repeat.


Okay, so I guess this turned out to be a book review of a non-technical book. If any of this stirs your brain, then I recommend that you read the book. If you are compelled by the ideas of Agile or Continuous Improvement, read the book.

My Advice: be deliberate with your life, your professional, and your time.

“… the unexamined life is not worth living…”
Socrates, Plato’s Apology

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.”

Kohelet 9:10

Posted 08-04-2009 11:14 PM by Christopher Bennage
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