The Reluctant Agilist

Adam Weisbart | Agile | Agile 2013 | agile 2014 | agile 2015 | Agile 2017 | Agile Alliance | agile coaching | Agile Metrics | Agile Practice | agile transformation | Agile Transition | agile2014 | agile2015 | agile42 | Agilistocrats | Alistair Cockburn | autism | Bas Vodde | BigVIsible | book review | Brian Bozzuto | carson pierce | Center for Non-Violent Communication | Certification | Chet Hendrickson | Chris Li | Coaching | commitment | Communication | conteneo | Craig Larman | cross functional teams | CSM | CSPO | Daniel Gullo | Dave Prior | David Anderson | David Bernstein | David Bland | David J Anderson | Dhaval Panchal | diana larsen | Digital Agency | Digital PM | digitalpm | Don Kim | dpm | dpm2013 | drunkenpm | drunkenpm radio | eduscrum | emotional intelligence | empathy | Enterprise Agile | Essential Scrum | esther derby | Excella | Gangplank | Gil Broza | Howard Sublett | Individuals and Interactions | Jean Tabaka | Jesse Fewell | Jessie Shternshus | jim benson | johanna rothman | john miller | Jukka Lindstrom | Jutta Eckstein | kanban | Kanban Pad | kanbanfor1 | Ken Rubin | Kenny Rubin | Kim Brainard | lacey | Large Scale Scrum | Larry Maccherone | LeadingAgile | lean | Lean Kanban North America | LeanKit | LESS | lkna | luke hohmann | lyssa adkins | Maria Matarelli | Marshall Rosenberg | Michael Sahota | Mike Vizdos | Modern Management Methods | modus cooperandi | Natalie Warnert | Nic Sementa | Non-violent communication | NVC | Olaf Lewitz | Øredev | Øredev 2013 | organizational agility | Organizational Change | overcommitment | Patrice Colancecco Embry | Paul Hammond | personal kanban | personal productivity | personal project management | Peter Saddington | PMBOK | PMI | PMP | podcast | Product Owner | Product Ownership | productivity | project management | Project Management Institute | Rally | reluctant agilist | retrospective | Richard Cheng | Roman Pichler | Ron Jeffries | SAFE | Safety | Sallyann Freudenberg | Scaling Scrum | Scrum | Scrum Alliance | Scrum Gathering | ScrumMaster | self organizing teams | SGPHX | SGPHX 2015 | Shane Hastie | SolutionsIQ | SoundNotes | sprint planning | Team | teams | Temenos | The Improv Effect | Things | Tom Perry | troy magennis | User Stories | value | Vivek Angiras | waste | Waterfall | What We Say Matters | why limit wip | women in agile | Woody Zuill | show all posts

About this Blog


Recent Posts

Giora Morein - The State of Agile and Post-SAFeism

Why Digital Transformation is More Important than Agile Transformation w/ Devin Hedge

Certified Scrum Professional (CSP) Deadline 12/31/17 - HOW TO EARN SEUs FAST!

Hacking Agile for Digital Agencies

Jurgen Appelo - How to Measure ScrumMaster Performance

Rant n' Review: The Tim Ferriss Experiment ... Awesome AND Scary

Tim Ferriss, author of the 4-Hour Work Week, 4 Hour Body, and 4-Hour Chef recently launched a new show, The Tim Ferriss Experiment, on Upwave.  (You can also find it on iTunes.) In each episode, Ferriss will take on the task of learning a new skill and getting good enough at it in five days to prove his abilities in some type of high-profile demonstration. The show follows some of same basic principles also covered in JoshKaufman’s The First 20 Hours.

Basically, the idea is that by following a specific process, you can take anything you want to learn and in a short amount of time, develop a “good enough” level of skill/knowledge to get by.

It’s a interesting premise. As I read Kaufman’s book, I found the idea inspiring. He takes a number of things he wants to learn about – like yoga, playing the game Go!, playing the ukulele, and by dividing up the work of learning in a specific way, he gets good enough to feel like he can check the item off his list of things he wants to do.

In Kaufman’s chapter on learning the ukulele and how part of what makes it work is that you have to set some pretty high stakes for yourself. In his case, performing at a speaking event.

Segway to The Tim Ferriss Experiment…

Tim Ferriss is an amazing human example of transparency and being open to the possibility of failure. I love the fact that he’s hacking his own life in public and that this is how he makes his living. I also think the idea of outsourcing the stuff you don’t like doing is great, in theory… but whose going to change the cat litter? (An argument for another post…)

In the initial episode of The Tim Ferriss Experiment, Tim decides he wants to learn drums. The program has a very Myth Busters/How It’s Made vibe. Ferriss has 5 days to learn to play drums well enough to play “Hot Blooded” on stage with Foreigner in L.A. He’s got a few people helping him out, including the rhythmic god, Stewart Copeland, drummer for the Police. Ferriss also has a drumming teacher from The School of Rock in LA help him out. This is the part where the show reeled me in like a starving fish. The line at the bottom of the screen about drumming together being like paired programming. I’m not really convinced it is 100% accurate, but it was a cool geek tidbit. (And with any luck, the masses will very soon begin misusing “pairing” with the same degree of ninja like expertise they employ in misusing the word “agile”.)

In another segment of the show, Ferriss talks about how he always tries to find things to do that are scary for him because it is a way of inoculating himself against the fear of failure.  This is also quite brilliant.

But then the scary part...

Ferriss has a massive world-wide audience. People who read his books look to these

books for advice on how to improve the way they approach their work in order to make their lives better.  In his 80/20 approach, Ferriss is going to be learning to do new things in each episode. He’ll get “good enough” at 20% of something to deliver 80% of the value.  This is more, or less the same approach Josh Kaufmann promotes. And I think, if you are applying it to a hobby, that is great. But, my deep, dark, wake me shaking in the middle of the night fear, is that people are going to see Ferriss applying this to pretty high profile gigs (like being a professional drummer), and a new trend will emerge. We will suddenly have an ocean of professionals whose goal is to just learn 20% of a skill so they can get by stumbling through 80% of a task or job ... 

and I may have to work with people who think that is ok. 

And that makes me wanna get my Gran Torino on...



Posted on: December 11, 2013 04:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

"The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline luggage."

- Mark Russell