The #Agile #Hobbit

So I was re-reading the Hobbit for the 4th time last week and I came across a link to Agile that I didn’t expect. I must admit I am a bit more of a Lord of the Rings reader as I have read those books closing on 10 times. But I was inspired by the Hobbit movies and thought I should re-read the Hobbit since I haven’t read the book in over 10 years. I came across this passage.

“I’m awfully sorry,” said Bilbo, “but I have come without my hat, and I have left my pocket-handkerchief behind, and I haven’t got any money. I didn’t get your note until after 10.45 to be precise.” “Don’t be precise,” said Dwalin, “and don’t worry!

You will have to manage without pocket-handkerchiefs, and a good many other things, before you get to the journey’s end. As for a hat, I have got a spare hood and cloak in my luggage.” That’s how they all came to start, jogging off from the inn one fine morning just before May, on laden ponies; and Bilbo was wearing a dark-green hood (a little weather-stained) and a dark-green cloak borrowed from Dwalin.”

Project Analogy

What a great analogy for planning and a project. While I support some planning, I would never recommend being precise. Because so many things will change in the coming months that the effort to be precise will be wasted effort. I also like the counsel to not worry. I have worked on projects with very technically skilled teammates who struggled in Agile because they wanted the perception of certainty. When they no longer had that perception of certainty they worried about everything. In truth, the Agile project had more certainty than traditional projects, but this one individual had more concern due to the lack of large bloated documents. A shame really.

Agile Analogy

Finally I love how the following passage also promotes cross-functional teams and an Agile mindset. In the story, Dwalin gives Bilbo his spare hood and cloak and counsels him on how he doesn’t really need that pocket-handkerchief. Just because you always used one in our situations doesn’t mean they are truly required in all situations. I also love how Dwalin steps in and provides whatever the team needs at that time. Doesn’t matter whose responsibility it is, just figure our a way to solve a problem and help the team succeed.

Who would have thought John Ronald Ruel Tolkien was an Agilist?


Author: Terry Bunio

Terry Bunio is passionate about his work as the Manager of the Project Management Office at the University of Manitoba. Terry oversees the governance on Information Technology projects to make sure the most important projects are being worked on in a consistent and effective way. Terry also provides leadership on the customized Project Methodology that is followed. The Project Methodology is a equal mix of Prince2, Agile, Traditional, and Business Value. Terry strives to bring Brutal Visibility, Eliminating Information islands, Right Sizing Documentation, Promoting Collaboration and Role-Based Non-Consensus, and short Feedback Loops to Minimize Inventory to the Agile Project Management Office. As a fan of pragmatic Agile, Terry always tries to determine if we can deliver value as soon as possible through iterations. As a practical Project Manager, Terry is known to challenge assumptions and strive to strike the balance between the theoretical and real world approaches for both Traditional and Agile approaches. Terry is a fan of AWE (Agile With Estimates), the Green Bay Packers, Winnipeg Jets, and asking why?

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