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A Community of Thinkers

by Mark Levison on Jan 14, 2010 |

Diverse and Respectful CommunityIn December, Liz Keogh, Eric Willeke and Jean Tabaka got together at the Rally offices in Boulder with the goal of: “producing something for the Lean and Kanban software community. We didn’t know what that would be. We just knew we felt strongly that we should give something to the community.”

As they talked, the three became convinced that the Lean/Kanban community didn’t need a challenge per se. “We were heavily influenced by conversations with Chris Matts and his call for ‘fewer leaders, more leadership’”.

Liz notes: “Because of that personal nature, we wanted to avoid putting this up as some kind of centralised manifesto that people can sign. If you feel strongly enough about it that you want to sign up, copy it. Post it on your own site. Attribute it to wherever you got your copy from – the act of sharing is more important to us than the act of creation – and feel free to change it so that it reflects your own values. I don’t think that any statement like this can ever be perfect, nor will we perfectly live up to it.”

I am a member of a community of thinkers.

I believe that communities exist as homes for professionals to learn, teach, and reflect on their work.

I challenge each community in the software industry to:

  • reflect and honor the practitioners who make its existence possible;
  • provide an excellent experience for its members;
  • support the excellent experience its members provide for their clients and colleagues in all aspects of their professional interactions;
  • exemplify, as a body, the professional and humane behavior of its members;
  • engage and collaborate within and across communities through respectful exploration of diverse and divergent insights;
  • embrace newcomers to the community openly and to celebrate ongoing journeys; and
  • thrive on the sustained health of the community and its members through continual reflection and improvement.

I believe that leaders in each community have a responsibility to exhibit these behaviors, and that people who exhibit these behaviors will become leaders.

I am a member of a community of thinkers. If I should happen to be a catalyst more than others, I consider that a tribute to those who have inspired me.

”A Community of Thinkers” by Liz Keogh, Jean Tabaka and Eric Willeke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Please attribute to the distributor of your copy or derivative.

Since it was original posted a number of people have signed on: Lisa Crispin, Olaf Lewitz, Patrick Wilson Welsh, David Bland and myself. In addition, Chris Matts and Olav Maassen added an useful idea:

Unlike those who inspired me, I am a practitioner. Agile/Lean/Kanban is secondary to me. My job is to delivery business value and these communities provided tools that helped me do it. As a practitioner I discovered problem that I need to solve. I feed these solutions back to the communities. I AM NOT A LEADER AND I RESIST THE NOTION OF BEING ONE.  I would like to think I am a member of ”a community of thinkers”. AND I would like to be respected for the contribution I make to those communities. I would like that community to respect me enough to keep giving me new ideas rather than insist I subscribe to an orthodoxy.

So what is the difference between Leaders and Leadership?

A leader feels like a commitment (something we only like if we have to):
“Do it this way if you want to be part of my club.”,
“My way or the highway”,
“You’re either with us or against us”

Leadership feels like an option (this is what we like as it allows freedom of choice):
“Here is a way you can do it, it worked for me in a certain context.”,
“You might want to check out X it seems related to what you’re doing.”

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One addition by Olav Maassen

Hi Mark,

there is one other addition we have made to the "community of thinkers" original post.
We believe each member of this community has an obligation to share who has influenced them and their perception of the current leaders to prevent any single member becoming a bottleneck to learning.

By sharing this knowledge you provide people the opportunity to "walk in your footsteps", to understand how you got to where you are now and build from there even without your direct involvement.

leadership= the courage to act, the courage to think by Bob Reselman

Sometimes leadership is no more than being the first one on the dance floor

Re: leadership= the courage to act, the courage to think by Mark Levison

Bob - I would agree expect I think that every member of a community can provide leadership. Not just the well known ones.

Re: One addition by Mark Levison

Sorry - I'm not sure why I left that one out of the item. I like it.

Cheers
Mark Levison
Agile Pain Relief Consulting

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