It’s bad when companies expect people to fill out forms that add only bureaucracy and no value. It’s bad when developers use development tools that create more problems than they solve. It’s bad when project managers expect teams to march by the drum of a rigid project plan.
For these and many other reasons, the 17 visionaries who wrote the Agile Manifesto wanted to emphasize that, ultimately, value is delivered by people, not by tools.
However, some members of the agile community seem to take this well-written reminder to an absurd extreme by looking down upon almost any kind of tool. “You use software for that? Oh my Gawd!” (accompanied by rolling eyes) “We don’t work with tools here; we work with people.” (written on a sticky note)
Well, forgive me. But I like tools. (Oh, and sticky notes are tools as well.)
I like Waze because it makes me feel less stressed about traffic. And less stress means more happiness.
I like Spotify because it allows me to (re)discover tons of music. And playing that music helps me enjoy my work days.
I like Dinner Spinner because it allows me to cook better evening meals. And I enjoy the compliments I get from friends.
Humans are toolmakers. Tools are, among some other things, what sets us apart from other animals.
We assume that a large brain, the use of tools, superior learning abilities and complex social structures are huge advantages. It seems self-evident that these have made humankind the most powerful animal on earth.
— Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari
Tools can help us be happier people and enjoy better work-lives. Creating and using tools can make us feel more human. Sure, we should not forget that bad usage of tools can make us feel less human. But I believe this is the exception, not the rule. Let’s not pretend that all usage of tools is intrinsically suspicious.
My team, Agility Scales, is building a tool called Mind Settlers. We want it to be the Waze of work, the Spotify of practices, or the Dinner Spinner of agile guides. In any case, we want this tool to help people enjoy better work-lives, and help companies to achieve business agility. That’s a big but worthy goal. (Check it out here.)
Let’s celebrate tools and our talent to use them well. Because individuals can have better interactions thanks to processes and tools.