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Most of us don’t want anything bad to happen to our kids. In order to keep them safe, we make choices which secure their safety and we set up rules and regulations to prevent those unsecure situations. If it can save the life of a child, we should of course do it. To be on the safe side. Or should we?

David Eberhard, a Swedish psychiatrist, describes in his book “I trygghetsnarkomanernas land” (In the safesideoholics land) he describes a time when everything should be on the safe side but also a time when teens get a psychosis when they are dumped for the first time, where the psychological health is on an all time low and when more and more people get burned out.

Eberhard does not buy the official reasons for this: that the pressure is so high today. He believes that the cocoon like state we put our kids in are ruining their chances to learn how to cope with risks, failures, pressure and sorrow. So, when they are finally in a  risky situation they don’t recognize it (since they are used to everything being safe) and when they are faced with a sad situation, they panic. Our “On the safe side” mentally are killing their possibility to live life to its fullest.

The social pressure is also a factor: we talk negatively about the parent who lets her kids cross the street on themselves and these stories are great headline news. It’s better to follow the crowd. To be on the safe side.

I recognize the situation all too well. I have friends who’ve brought their kids to the E.R. for symptoms I would say points to a common cold. Not just once, but many times, and still they continue this habit even if they keep coming back with the same conclusions from the doctors. To us other parents they say: well, it was perhaps not anything dangerous this time but you want to be sure when it’s your kids, don’t you? I don’t know how many times I have had to bite my tongue: No, I don’t think it’s OK to waste precious E.R medics time. And no, I don’t think it’s OK to spoil the weekend for that kid, having to spend yet another day in the waiting room. And I don’t think it’s OK that really sick people get to wait even longer because of this.

What is really sad about Eberhard’s conclusions are though that he thinks that the main concern of these parents are not the kid, but themselves. No parents can forgive themselves if they did something (or didn’t do something) which caused harm to their kids. In other words: we are afraid of the feeling which we would cause ourselves if something happens.

Sometimes while reading this book, I started to think about all these projects out there. All these efforts to introduce agile values in software development. Yes, it’s probably sick to think about that all the time, but I couldn’t help but see the consequences in my work situation.

What happens when the failure afraid, security manic safesideoholic parent come to work and get to plan that project? What does he feel about an agile approach, when he don’t get an estimate in hours but in story points? When he cannot see which date which functionality is delivered a year in advance?

No wonder that many thinks that the traditional waterfall approach is nice and comfortable. It feels great to wait with starting the development to after we have that thick pre study. We have really done everything to get to the bottom with this problem. If they project goes south, no one can say that we didn’t analyze the problem before we got started.

And what are the consequences for the project and the project group? Well, if you’re into agile values, you probably have an idea about this not giving ground for the most innovative development.

Categories: Agile, Leadership, planning
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