At Agile 2011 last week, we were treated to three wonderful keynotes, aside from over 260 sessions.
The first, on Tuesday morning was about positive emotions by Barbara Frederickson. I was afraid it was going to be one of those "be happy" nonsense things, but it wasn't. She discussed how to stay happy, and it was about challenging yourself, and learning how to have emotional resilience, something I'm quite interested in, and will be discussing in more detail on my createadaptablelife blog sometime in the next few weeks. I bought her book
and will be reading it because I really liked her presentation. Her presentation is mostly pictures.
The second was entitled "Code" and delivered by Kevlin Henney
. I hadn't heard of him, because I'm a management geek. Well, if you have not heard of him, go seek him out, find his presentation. He showed pictures of code. Yes, pictures! Aside from cute things you can do with code, one of the best analysis tools I saw was using wordle
as a static analysis tool, to see what kinds of domain knowledge you have built into your code. Is that cool or what? Way cool.
But the best and last, was Linda Rising'
s keynote called, "The Power of an Agile Mindset." I should tell you, Linda and I are friends, as well as colleagues. I've known Linda for years, and volunteered as a shepherd on the Insights stage that she co-chaired for the conference.
Linda discussed the fixed mindset where we go for perfection and get stuck if we don't achieve it versus the agile mindset where we adapt if discover a challenge and we try harder.
And, then came the zinger. As a society, we encourage smart little girls towards perfection in elementary school. We encourage little boys towards challenge. So, by the time we all get towards middle school/junior high, little girls do not want to fail. They don't want the challenge. They want perfection. All their lives they have been praised for perfection. How can they stop now? And boys? Why should they want perfection? All their lives they have been praised for rising to the challenge. Why should get all As? Why should they want the grades when they can find a bigger challenge?
This explains so much about why girls gravitate towards classes they can do well in, and why boys take classes they find a challenge--as a generalization. There will always be girls like me who rebel (rebelled) against society and boys who had such family pressure for perfection that they avoided the challenge.
If you are a parent now, you can help your children chart their way by encouraging them to challenge themselves by praising their effort, not their results. "Wow, look at those colors!" or "Wow, you must have worked really hard on that." or "I saw how hard you concentrated on that. Good for you!" Kids need to have their effort acknowledged, not rewarded. There's a big difference.
If you are a manager, same thing. Acknowledge the work, even if the result is not always what you expected. Some of you might be asking, "But why can't we take partial credit for partially complete stories at the end of the iteration, if we want to acknowledge effort?" Because we while we want to acknowledge
effort, we do not want to reward
it. That's the challenge.
I was one of the people who gave Linda a standing ovation. I will be urging her to share this presentation.