Life is agile
By Tamsin Fox-Davies | 22 February 2019
I'm a sucker for vintage news footage, 'how things work' films from pre-1970, and early science fiction (Asimov over Clarke, all the way). So you'll imagine how delighted I was to come across this gem via Atlas Obscura. This film from 1967 shows what they thought life would be like in 1999.
Quite a bit of it is fairly accurate, but a lot is wrong too. For example, online shopping makes an appearance, but it's done on account and then the bill is sent to the woman's husband (I know. I know) for payment. Also, in this vision, kids don't go to school, they learn independently from home, without parental or teacher intervention. That's definitely not the norm yet, but adults and kids often teach themselves via formal online learning or checking out a YouTube how-to video. There's also more scratchy-looking polyester here than we really have in 2019, thankfully!
Waterfall Vs incremental
What struck me is that if life was a logical continuum, waterfall style, with one thing happening after the next, then the team who put the film together in 1967 would probably have got more things right.
Life goes in increments
However, life goes in increments and has multiple iterations. So some areas go faster (online shopping, women having more control of money), and some slower (instant food a la Star Trek replicators).
Micro and macro
The idea of life being agile is also true at a micro level.
Reflecting on my own life, I've not had a linear career. That's normal for most of us now, and it means that we learn what we need for the current role that we're in, and then go back and re-learn when we change roles.
We don't really do things in a textbook order any more, and technology has helped us to accommodate that in many cases. Want to do an online degree after several years of being out of education? Yep. That's easy. Need to move back in with Mum in your 30's to save for a house deposit? Loads of people do the same thing.
"Isn't it just common sense?"
Anyone who knows anything about agile approaches to business or IT/software will have heard the question: "but isn't agile just common sense?". I think that's because we're used to adjusting to circumstance in our personal lives, taking an incremental approach, and checking that we've created what we intended to before going on to the next step.
So yes, an agile approach is usually a common-sense approach with a bit of structure around it so you don't hare off willy-nilly.
Even though I know that, I'm still fascinated by predictions of the future, and hoping that my robot butler is just around the corner.
About the author:
As the Head of Brand at the Agile Business Consortium, the global professional body for Business Agility, Tamsin's role is to direct brand strategy for the organisation. She also lead Generation Agile – the Consortium’s campaign to embed agile skills into education for all ages and create a generation of agile talent. Apart from that, she likes home-cooked food, shoes, books, Earl Grey tea, and collecting rescue dogs!
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