I’ve said it before, and it’s worth repeating.
What civilians call agility the Marine Corps calls leading Marines.
I’ve compared my decade in the Corps to my experiences as an agile coach in a pair of blog posts here and here, and I think it’s time to revisit this theme. Today we’ll focus on the relationship between agility and discipline, and I firmly believe there is one. I’ll go so far to say that an agile team is inherently a disciplined one, and without discipline, it’s highly unlikely a team will reach any worthwhile measure of agility.
To make the point, I suppose we could point to trivial indicators of discipline. For example, is our team consistently showing up on time for stand up? That’s important, right? I suppose, but in my opinion there are better indicators to examine that can accelerate a team toward greater effectiveness.
However, before we talk about what discipline is, let’s talk about what it’s not. First, it’s not rigid or blind adherence to the orders of those above us. Second, it’s not asking “how high” after someone tells us to “jump.” In fact, it’s not most of the stereotypical military we see on TV.
On the battlefield, decentralized leadership is a prerequisite of victory.
After all, if we don’t own the tempo, our enemy will. Leaders must have access to knowledge communicated in a rich, high-bandwidth manner, and they must be trusted to make critical decisions in the absence of higher authority.
As leaders, we must recognize and address our own shortcomings. We must surround ourselves with the intelligent and disagreeable to appreciate opposing views. Finally, we must accept that the world around us is messy. It’s non-linear and coloring outside the lines is sometimes inevitable. Let me explain.[Read more…]