I was bummed to miss out on Agile Coach Camp in Columbus a couple weeks ago so I had to settle for enjoying the tweet stream.  One such tweet that stuck out was this one:

“The #agile community is too closed. We are doing intellectual incest, and congratulating ourselves for it.” ~@mhsutton #ACCUS

I can understand and appreciate the comment, I’ve posted many times about how I think the Agile community is disconnected from the reality that organizations are going through.  Having said that, I’d have to disagree with the statement that the Agile community is too closed.

There are numerous conferences across the world, user groups, study groups, forums, open spaces and local events that are easily accessible to just about anybody who’s willing to learn.  The key is that people need to be willing to learn.  I’m happy that 2 people I worked with when I was consultanting are speaking at the Toronto Agile Tour this year and the reason they are is because they were exposed to what the Agile community offers and they jumped at the chance to get more involved.  They’re dedicated to improving their skills and they have a desire to learn more.

I think the Agile community is awesome.   For starters, look at all the free advice through blogs and forums people in the Agile community give.  Look at the free whitepapers and experience reports the Agile community dishes out.  Look at how people in the Agile community give their time to the community through open spaces and other local events.  Most importantly, the people I know and have tremendous respect for are not content with being mediocre and being around that mindset is infectious.  We challenge each other, we question each other’s statements, we challenge the status quo in the name of building better software and improving the quality of life by living the Agile values and principles.

While I can understand the statement about the Agile community being too closed, there is responsibility on the shoulders of those who are not involved in the community.  Events and information are so easily accessible, there’s no excuse for anyone who wants to learn how to build better software to get off their ass and go learn.  Mediocrity is a choice, people and teams have more control over improving themselves more than they think they do and those who are content with where they are will likely never really get what the Agile community has to offer.  I pay for my own training, I give my time freely to help people new to the community, I am never satisfied with the status quo and my mind is always open to learning something new everyday.

The Agile community is about what’s possible.  The Agile community is constantly innovating better practices for building better software and making work more enjoyable.  People I know in the Agile community are using their knowledge to improve education for kids or improving government or making work fun by using games to teach techniques for building better software.

The Agile community taught me how to value my own skills, how to appreciate myself for the skills and experience I offer and most importantly, the Agile community taught me that no matter how much I know, there is a whole world of knowledge I’ve only scratched the surface on.  I am deeply grateful towards the people I’ve worked with and learned from over the years and I feel honoured that many of these people who are thought leaders in the industry consider me their peer.

The Agile community is too closed?  In my opinion it’s not.  Everyone has a choice to improve them-self, with so many easily accessible Agile events and materials to learn from there’s unlimited avenues to explore.

Thank you Agile community.