What’s missing?

Last week, Alan pointed me towards Dale Emery’s post on <a href="http://www.dhemery.com/cwd/2003/06/the_value_question.html”>the value question. Reading it made me think a lot about several things which I’m trying to accomplish; today, tomorrow, and with my life in general. It’s been an interesting week. Along with the General Election here in the UK we also had local elections, which took over my house for a little while, so I’ve also been thinking about the government, our local councillors, world politics and what the leaders of the world are trying to achieve.

While this is going on, I’m also thinking about becoming an Agile Coach; a goal for the future for which I’ve still got a way to go. It started me thinking about why Agile methodologies came about in the first place. And, as happens when you start thinking too much on a Friday afternoon, some parallels between software development, my life, my world and plot devices I’m trying to work over for a couple of stories started to fester in my head. I realised that in every plot I’ve read, a combination of just a few things were conspiring to make up that curse which the Chinese call “interesting times”.

Dale’s Value Question asks, “If you had that, what would it do for you?”

What would a little imagination, a little courage, a little more communication do for me? For the world? If I had a little more courage, would I send out those stories still sitting at the bottom of my hard drive? If I had a little more imagination, and talked to people some more, would I finally get my head round service-oriented architecture? Would a little imagination and courage open the north of England for development, and stop the government trying to put still more houses in our very crowded south-east? Foresight is an offshoot of imagination – can’t they see that the rail network won’t take any more commuters? Why do people lust after power and money? If the power-hungry talked to people a little more; if they had the courage to deal with uncertainty in their future, and the imagination to see that you don’t always have to be in charge for things to work out, would they worry less about that next ten million dollars? If Britain and the US together could convince Israel and Palestine that there really is a solution out there somewhere, would they be able to imagine living together in peace?

If I focus on the things which are missing, I wondered, will it be easier to manage my life? Or come up with plot devices for that next chapter? Or inspire other people to talk, to believe, to imagine?

I tried to find orthogonal values, ones which don’t overlap, to describe the problems I and other people around the world are facing. (Read Dale’s post – he has a very good example of reducing a problem. I’ve taken it a little further, which may not be practical for everyone but does help me focus.) I came up with three things that every problem I could think of could be reduced to – a lack of communication, a lack of courage and a lack of imagination (or foresight, though that doesn’t cover all the problems I thought of). There may be other orthogonal descriptions of problems in the world, but those three things struck me as being simple and sad, because they look as though they should be so easy to resolve.

So I wrote them down, so I’d remember, and because some people might find it inspiring, or interesting, or thought-provoking. I also added a fourth; the reason why I’m not a published author yet, I’m not an Agile Coach yet, I didn’t get to the gym this weekend and I didn’t write down all these thoughts on Friday afternoon – lack of time. It’s less orthogonal than the other three. I think anyone with time on their hands can use it to become a better communicator, to learn how to deal with uncertainty or at least see how uncertainty resolves, and to realise that there’s so much out there to learn that half the time all you can do is make a best guess.

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3 Responses to What’s missing?

  1. anonymous says:

    > the reason why I’m not a published author yet, I’m not an Agile
    > Coach yet, I didn’t get to the gym this weekend and I didn’t
    > write down all these thoughts on Friday afternoon – lack of time.

    One of the best things I ever heard Kent Beck say was that as long as we’re talking about not having enough time, we’re stuck. We can’t “manufacture” more time. If we rephrase as “There’s too much to do” we can start to look for solution. It’s a tiny thing, but, IMO, quite a powerful one.

    There will never be more than 24 hours in the day. If some things aren’t getting done, “more time” isn’t a possible solution…”less to do” might be.

    Or am I just splitting hairs ?


  2. sirenian says:

    No, you’re not just splitting hairs – I posted problems, rather than solutions, which are harder to classify (but a goal associated with posting the problems is to find the solutions; then the really hard bit is implementing the solutions).

    I’ve reduced my hobbies and work to the point where I really, really can’t give anything more up. I haven’t drawn a picture or painted anything for months. My bobbin lacemaking is still sitting on top of the cupboard, where it’s been since I moved house. I’ve only taken up kite-flying because it’s relaxing and doesn’t involve looking at computer screens (or anything close-up). Time to relax is essential for spurring on my increasingly reluctant imagination.

    I guess the solution for me is to make sure there are more than 24 hours in the day, by persuading other people to be as impassioned about my main hobbies as I am, and help out with them. Things like, eg: joining a poetry group, having a dishwasher, getting friends to read my stories and tell me what’s wrong with them.

    Maybe blogging less would help…

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