A Project Manager's Reflection on Labor Day and Agile
Updated: Sep 15
On this Labor Day, I am reminded of my roots as well as where my career is currently. Growing up in a blue collar family, I learned the importance of an honest day's work. The importance addressed the needs of physical growth, mental growth, social growth and skills growth. There was also something else that goes a lot deeper. That is the sense of collaboration and safety. A team of laborers, whether they be truck drivers, longshoremen, carpenters or electricians (to name a few) must always share the same vision, working together towards the same goal and watching for each other's safety. When you see construction workers on a site, you may notice that some of those workers may not look like they're working as they are standing at the work location, just holding a tool. However, when you look closely, you'll notice that they have a sharp eye on their coworkers and the immediate surroundings ready to alert the active worker of sudden danger. These workers are the risk managers of this construction project, ready to jump into action executing the risk management plan and ensuring the safety of their coworkers.
Until organizations realized the importance of looking out for the safety of their workers, many lives were either permanently changed, perhaps through loss of limb, or they were lost. It wasn't until Labor Unions were formed in the United States, that American workers were ensured of safe working conditions. In addition, these same workers were guaranteed livable wages and skills training. By giving back to the workers, organizations were able to raise the skill levels and competencies of their workers. This resulted in higher quality products being built and higher quality services being provided. As consumers of motor vehicles, homes, office buildings, clothing and restaurant meals this raises our standard of living.
While some may think that this has caused a division in economic classes, it has done the opposite. By encouraging skills growth, collaboration and worker safety, this has actually resulted in delivering of value early. The early delivery of value is a variation of the principle #3 of the Agile Manifesto, which says "Frequent delivery of working software". This, of course, is evidenced in principle #5; "Support, trust, and motivate the people involved." The implementation of Principle #5 not only applies to Producer and Consumer; it also applies to labor and management within the Producer organization. (See http://agilemanifesto.org/ to find the Agile Manifesto and its principles.) As an emerging Agile Practitioner, I am frequently reminded of the works and values of my father, grandfathers and son, each at one time or another members of the Teamsters, Longshoreman's or IBEW Labor Unions. I can't help but think of the strong sense of community within these union "families" and how so many things that we experience in day to day living was the result of the labors of the first Agilists. Today, we celebrate the labor of skilled workers and what they have provided for us to raise our standard of living. In years to come, we will include Agile Teams in this celebration for providing us with various online tools, software and services, and processes that raise our standard of living. All because management cared about the safety of its workers.
Specially dedicated to my favorite Agilist, my Dad, who turns 84 on this Labor Day.
By Nicholas Tufaro, PMP on September 07, 2020
© Nicholas Tufaro,2020