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  • Writer's pictureThomas Meloche

Are You a Worder or a Doer?

Kyle Griffin recently sent me a short email on worders and doers. It is bouncing around my brain and wanting to get out. So, I may not be doing it justice, but here is what my brain is doing with Kyle's words. (Kyle is a worder claiming he is working on behalf of the doers, all worders say that.)

His premise is it may be useful to sometimes model the world into two categories of people.

Worders: People who love and make a living from words: think politicians, professors, lawyers, reporters, executives, project management offices, etc.

Worders create movements which try fix everything that is broken with words. If we fail to deliver software successfully it is because we did not write enough documents, did not create enough checklists, were not as careful as we should be about the words we used to describe our products and our features.

Worders use what they know--words--to try to make the world a better place.

They write lots of words to control things: policies, rules, and audits. They sincerely believe if they write better and better words everything will be better. They believe the way to success is better words. They believe the way to end failure is better words. Better, of course, according to the highly educated and knowledgeable worders.  Speak better words and you create a better reality.

Doers on the other hard are people who grow, build, maintain, or fix things:  think engineers, programmers, nurses, cooks, dish washers, mechanics, waiters, construction workers, factory workers, clerks, janitors, grounds keepers, taxi drivers, etc.

Doers do not experience more words as making the world a better place, or in my industry as the way to create better software. Doer programmers experience building products and getting it into the hands of real people as the way to make the world a better place. They suspect something is seriously wrong with a system focused on what is said and not on what is actually done.

They are suspicious of people with lots of big and fancy words.

They distrust systems built entirely on words. They distrust our word-based legal, educational, and corporate political system. Not surprisingly, they may be bad at putting their distrust into words. But they experience things are not getting better with more words. More documents, more rules, and more regulations are not making their world better. They are making their world harder... they want to create, build, maintain, and fix things. They don’t trust words.

They trust freedom.

They need autonomy.

Agile is a movement created by doers for doers. And worders in larger political systems do not understand it.  They probably never will.

Note: When the Project Management Institute (PMI) tries to certify in you Agile, it is worders trying to control doers with more words. Same with the Scrum Alliance. It is anti-agile, and no self-respecting doer should tolerate it :-) .


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