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It’s time to slay the agile dragon (and some of the Knights too)…

Dragons – Mythical monsters generally represented as a huge, winged reptiles with enormous claws and teeth. In European tradition dragons are typically fire-breathing and symbolise chaos or evil.

These beasts are said to have great power and strength, whilst being reckless and dangerous. Unpredictable.

Legend has it that the dragons are a necessary evil. That they appear suddenly over tired ramshackle villages struggling to survive and keep up with modern life. The dragons are said to burn these villages and their crops. To damage everything in their path, and leave the landscape unrecognisable with the villagers struggling with the job of having to rebuild it. However, after this carnage (and in fact because of it), the villages will eventually become more robust. That over time they will be a more modern, sustainable place to live and work.

Because of the legend, lots of negativity surrounds dragons. People fear them.

People are scared that they will swoop, unannounced, into their village which they’ve nurtured for so long and has been the way it has since, well, forever.

All this despite little evidence to support their existence, or proof of the destruction they’ve caused elsewhere.

There are 2 main reasons for the strength of the myth and the swell of uncertainty against the dragons.

This partially lies with the elders of the villages. These pensive, wise men and women hear tales of other villages changing, becoming more modern, protecting themselves from destruction.

They journey to the hilltop regularly, and see other villages rapidly changing shape before their eyes. They worry that all of the visitors (who provide income to their village) will stop coming, and will go and buy their goods elsewhere.

They know that they need to do something, to change, but they are not sure what, or how. They worry that their villagers aren’t ready for, or willing to change. That even if they are, that they won’t be able to change quick enough, so they start to pray that the dragons will come. They can see no other way.

The second reason lies with the Knights. They arrive on stallion horses, sitting tall in suits of armour, with swords in their hands still dripping with blood from their previous kill.

These (self proclaimed) Knights tell tales of horrors caused by dragons in other villages and portray themselves as the saviours. They convince the elders of the village that they can coax the dragon into coming in order for the devastation to occur, but that without their help, the villagers wont be able to cope with the aftermath.

They sell themselves as the only ones who can direct the villagers to rebuild the village because they have a fool proof plan of how to recover after the dragons have been and gone.

So with fear in their hearts, a strong desire for change but a lack of the clarity as to how to achieve it, and with impatience building, the elders welcome the Knights with open arms.

They feed, clothe and cherish them. They listen to their horror stories around the table, and then cry themselves to sleep each night, if they can even sleep at all. But, they hold on to the hope that things will be better in the end. That after the storm the sun will shine once more. Maybe even brighter than before.

They readily follow the instructions of the Knights, believing they’ll help deconstruct and rebuild the village quicker than they could on their own. This is what the Knights have promised after all!

The elders stay inside a lot over the following weeks to stay safe and out of sight of the dragons, but also from the villagers, who have come to learn that the elders are happy for the dragons to come. That they have invited them. That they are happy for the fire to scold them all.

Rather than making things better and speed up the modernisation of the village, between the elders and the Knights they’ve only made things worse. They’ve caused unrest and resentment in the camp. They’ve spread both fear and false hope in equal measure, but provided no evidence of either being valid, leaving the villagers confused, downbeat and angry.

As time goes by with no dragon appearing, eventually, a rebellion in the village occurs.

As the villagers round on the Knights, it becomes clear that they wear armour to protect themselves from the villagers, not from dragons, and that the blood on their swords is their own. As quickly as they can they mount their horses and gallop off into the horizon, looking for the next village to target.

Some villagers evacuate to other villages. Some start to fiercely protect their part of the land and resist change stronger than before. Some start to form their own mini-communities, where they make up their own rules and boundaries to keep anyone other than those they deeply trust at bay. They modernise, but at their own pace, and to their own designs.

Overall, the impact is not what was intended. The elders wanted to ensure the villages survival, not to slowly destroy it from within, but they were misguided by their lack of clarity on how to achieve this, and mislead by the false promises of the Knights.

Some villages may ultimately survive this scenario, but they will have been damaged in many way, at many levels. Some villages will end up disappearing all together.


Now, here’s the issue – Legends are bullshit.

Real life stories of butterflies will start the process of modernisation, not tall tales of mythical monsters.

A focus on natural evolution rather than wholesale revolution will drive an experimental, change friendly culture.

Welcoming people who don’t wear armour, and refuse to make promises they can’t keep is more beneficial than those who look and act like Knights. Ones who listen to stories round the table from people already there, rather than telling their own.

Putting faith in your villagers to help drive the future is more important than making them bystanders and telling them what to do, when to do it and how to do it.

Asking them the question “how do you think we can reduce waste?” should take precedence over shouting “Do more” Or “Go faster”.

Sorry to break it to you, but claiming ‘we’re going agile’ is not a silver bullet, nor is it a poisoned chalice. It’s also not a destination, it’s a process, a constant journey of discovery, and it takes hard work, time and a huge amount of collaboration to get there.

Don’t be mislead or misguided. Don’t get suckered in to stories that spread fear or false hope.

Oh, and don’t be scared of the damn dragon. It doesn’t exist.

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