Be like a Gardener/Farmer

In Lean-Agile, the needed mindset is that of a gardener/farmer (nurturing) rather than that of a top-down commander (controlling and directing).

On Controlling and Directing:

Top-down control has no place in Lean-Agile… and rightly so. SAFe Principle #9 — ‘Decentralize decision-making’ — emphasized it.

A commander from a remote position controlling and directing what is going on in the frontline / battlefield is not effective and efficient… he/she does not know the realities on the ground … those soldiers fighting the battle are the ones in the know … they are in the best position to make decisions… they have the local context.

Contrast that to an on-the-ground commander — who is with his/her troops on the battle field. He/She is effective and efficient. Decision-making is local in context and made by the team. Feedback loop is short and fast — they can make corrections fast.

This is a game-changer: lose the illusion of control… and gain advantages with teams making decisions for opportunities that could disappear in seconds!

On Being like a Gardener/ Farmer:

As we all know, life is like the seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. No one has control over the seasons. However, these are predictable … Spring follows Winter, guaranteed. It has cadence. Likewise for lean-agile, it has its cadence, rhythm, drumbeat. With that regularity, we can prepare for each season. Likewise is true in lean-agile: with its cadence, rhythm, drumbeat, we can prepare and plan for work… incoming work… flow of work is continuous… some planned, some unplanned.

How to prepare? 1) Improve! Lean-Agile emphasizes Constant And Never-Ending Improvement (CANI). Be wiser, stronger, better! Commit to CANI. This way, you can take things as they come regardless of the season. You don’t wish for lesser challenges; you wish for more skills! 2) Be like a gardener / farmer: start planting crops in the Spring so you will have something to harvest in the Fall (note: plant flowers (i.e. tulips) in the Fall for Spring blossoms). Note that just because you planted, it does not guarantee a harvest/blossoms! You have to be nurturing for growth and for abundant harvest/blossoms!

Aim for nurturing a high-performing team; producing high-quality products at sustainable pace and shortest lead time for people and society. Be like a gardener/farmer.