This post is in response to Jurgen Appelo’s “No True Agile, No True Lean, No True Latte”. I agree with most of Jurgen’s message in his blog but had a couple of thoughts along the way while reading it. I highly recommend you read it...while drinking a latte :)
WRT “There is no objective way of determining who is right and who is wrong”
As far as details and minutia go, I think I agree with you. However, in the broader sense I think we can safely agree that Agile and Lean (and maybe even Lattes) exist to help organizations deliver better value from their software development efforts.
While the word “better” is certainly not objective, an organization should have at least some understanding of what “better” means to them within their given context.
So, while I agree there may not be an objective way to find what practices/values are right or wrong, I would think an org should be able to tell you what is working for them and what is not. That should count for something even if it is subjective or relative or whatever.
WRT “[…] attributing relative weights to versions of the model depending on how often they are being referred to.”
So, this is an awesome way to sum up a good idea. This basically describes learning, or at least learning the way a neural net learns...which I’m sure you’re aware of being a complexity guy and all.
My key issue here is that the process of assigning weights to pathways to nodes of stored information is the process which is important for an organization to understand and continue to propagate. This learning is the key to understanding what pieces of the whole (aggregate model) work for the holistic organization in its context.
While I’m positive we don’t disagree on this, my concern is that the people who may need to understand your blog the most may take away from it that it’s possible for an “aggregate model” to get created and ironically become the One True Aggregate Model (or at least treat it as such).
WRT “It’s no use pointing out what an original document actually meant in the past”
I guess I half-disagree with this...meaning while I totally agree the main thing to focus on is the current best understanding of Lean/Agile, I also completely disagree that there is no use in understanding the original intent.
I’ve always liked the phrase “Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. I believe it is important to understand that history. What was the struggle? What was the point? Are we solving the same problem? How have things changed? Is this still useful? All good questions to ask, but need a starting point or some beginning context.
So while I don’t think folks should just blindly assume past original intent is still applicable to current problems, I think it serves them well to know how things started as well as how we got to where we are now from there.
My Takeaway on Your Takeaway
I guess I’ll just go back to my opinion that the learning is the key. I don’t really think there is right or wrong, just better or evolutionary. I think the process of building one’s own aggregate model is the useful task, not the having of an aggregate model. So to that point I’m not sure if an “all models are wrong” stance is the best, but perhaps an “understand many models, adapt your own and keep adapting” would be better...although they may effectually be saying the same thing :)
One note on “context”
I know I’ve mentioned orgs doing things in context a few times...so while I think almost everything needs to be considered in its context, I don’t subscribe to not trying new things because “that just wont work here” or “we’ve tried that before”.