My Agility 1: A Working Formulation

Part [part not set] of 3 in the series Defining Agile

A formulation I’m trying out today: "my agility is an autopoietic community centered around the triple balancing of the made, the making, and the makers." there’s odd terms in it, and also missing ones, so I feel like pushing it around a little out loud.

Obviously, the least ordinary term there is the a-word. Autopoeisis is literally "self creation", and when I say that, I say "well why use a big fancy word," and the answer is: because the literal meaning doesn’t quite capture the concept.

The basic concept of autopoeisis isn’t just that the autopoeitic thing creates itself, it’s that it continuously forms and re-forms, throughout its existence, even though both its structure (the parts) and its organization (their relationships) are never held fixed.

A living thing — the term comes from the theory of biology — is an autopoeitic thing. Throughout its time, it is constantly changing both its constituent parts and their arrangments, sustaining its nature as a thing at all.

Almost the only thing that is fixed about a living thing from beginning to end is this autopoeisis. There is nothing to the definition — by this concept — of "being alive" except this property of continuous forming and re-forming of a localized entity by that entity.

Then there’s community. I could have left this word out: my agility always involves groups of people, after all. Everyone’s does, I think, or if it doesn’t, I don’t know what they’re talking about at all.

By using "community", though, I mean to bring the conversation back, time and again, to the fact that my agile autopoeisis, as opposed to any other kind of autopoeisis, is a continuous self-creation that is always composed of multiple humans in ongoing interactions.

I say this a lot in different ways, because I don’t have a simple reliable way to get it across: there is no agility without extensive and intensive human interaction.

(I freely confess to defensive driving here: it is very easy to take our eyes off the healthy human interaction my agility depends on. Easy and tempting, because the "human problem" is the most difficult problem there is. But we can’t take our eyes off it and have agility.)

Finally there is the triple balance: made, making, maker. The contention here is that my agility — so far — is always based in a particular harmony, a balancing of concern for those three notes: the thing created. The way it is being created. The humans that are creating it.

Agile communities originated here, specifically in geekery, where software is what’s made. And tho I do definitely understand the drive to extend our agility beyond the world of making software, for me that’s mostly a drinking game.

That may change. Meanwhile, though, we haven’t even been able to share agility throughout the software world, let alone the many other areas where it’s proposed as an ideal.

When I say "centered around", I don’t mean to say "bounded by", I just mean to say that my agility concerns itself with topics other than the made, the making, and the makers, only when those topics have some bearing on that trio.

So there it is: "my agility is an autopoietic community centered around the triple balancing of the made, the making, and the makers." thanks for letting me ramble, and have a great and strange new year.

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