Last night while I was putting the kids to bed my 4 year old daughter tried her typical stalling routine.  “Daddy, I need to get something from downstairs”.  At bedtime we usually read books in the upstairs hallway and both kids have a bedtime snack and something to drink.

I told her that she needed to be back upstairs in 20 seconds or I’d eat her snack.  She paused for a couple of seconds and then took her snack and drink with her.  I didn’t bother counting to 20.

Since I’m a bit of a nut, I wanted to see how my 6 year old son would manage that same problem.  The first thing he did was freak out.  “You CANT eat my snack Daddy!”.  I could see him struggling with what to do.  He wanted to go downstairs but he wanted his snack too.  I could feel his anxiety building and it took him about a minute to figure out what he wanted to do.  He decided to go with shovelling his entire snack in his yap before he went downstairs to “get something”.  Just in case he got lost, enough crumbs were falling out of his mouth to leave enough of a trail to get back.

When I break down how they both reacted, both got what they wanted.  The ‘thing’ from downstairs and their snack.  My daughter experienced very little stress under the same system constraint while my son was visibly frazzled.

If you are trying to adopt Agile, whether you’re just getting started or in process of transitioning, there are many systemic forces causing people in your organization to react differently to the same set of conditions or contraints.    Come to my Agile 2011 session and learn more about what you need to understand about yourself and your organization to get started with Agile.