Agile & Music: Suggestion for an experiment

27 Dec


Who doesn’t love music? We all have different choices, tastes – but we all listen and have our favorites. I like listening to variety of music and play guitar (Disclaimer: I am not a music major or a pro).

There’s been this one thing on my mind since a long time and could not resist this post when I saw David Bland’s tweet about “Kanban-Agile Jazz“. [Don’t forget to check out the trackback link at the bottom of that article by Olaf Lewitz].

I have observed one strange coincidence when I met, read about and researched some famous agilists. Many of them play guitar (or a music instrument.

To name a few (on twitter): @mcottmeyer, @howardsublett, @dennisstevens (if I am not wrong), Dave Minor, @darianrashid (drums) and the list goes on..(you get the point).

Most importantly, the experiment that I have in mind is on the lines of what Olaf mentioned in his post:

  1. In next agile (or scrum or kanban or XP) get-together event, invite the attendees WITH their instruments
  2. Ask the attendees at the gathering to form a band by choosing among themselves
  3. Create a tune or select a song of their choice
  4. Practice for a few times and then
  5. Present for few minutes in front of the get-together audience

Yep, you’re thinking right; something like the “YouTube Symphony Orchestra” on a very small-scale.

Why do this?

  1. Fun & Entertainment
  2. Interactive and engaging
  3. Something different/Innovative than just doing “hands-on” sessions, open space, games
  4. Displaying agile principles/values: Collaboration, Self-organizing teams, Improvisation, Iterating, Practicing and Delivering



As you can see from Olaf’s “White Night..” post few passionate people have used the Jazz experiment to get their point across to the audience about improvisation. After all, people get-together to discuss what they are passionate about (agility) and in that people form  small groups, get engaged in discussing topics of their interest. If people don’t find the topic interesting they use the “law of two feet” from open space in search of discussion that engages them.

So, why not meet with like-minded music (agile) enthusiasts at such events and jam?

Note of caution: Please make sure you don’t get lost in music so much that you forget the main purpose of being at the (agile) event 🙂


Posted by on December 27, 2010 in Agile, Music, Musings


11 responses to “Agile & Music: Suggestion for an experiment

  1. PM Hut

    December 28, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    As a project manager myself, I find your post very intriguing. It’s very interesting how you researched all these agilists and concluded that they all play guitar and how it could relate to their Agile work.


    • Sameer

      December 29, 2010 at 12:27 pm

      Thanks for reading the post & your comment! It was just pure observation depending on interest/hobby. There are experts who have done much more deep thinking, connecting these theories and educating the masses. In everyday life, how many things do we really do by detailed planning? We inspect and adapt to situations – quickly and that is one of the core principals of agility.
      As a rhythm guitarist, I have faced situations where the whole band with singer practices for weeks. We find the scale fit for singer, practice the beats. When the singer goes on stage, they’ll use a different scale (get excited or nervous), change their tempo and the musicians have to identify, and adopt pretty quickly to make sure the song sounds right! If we stick to the same scale we planned and practiced, it will be a flop-show!

      Well talking about deep thinkers, David Bland has a wonderful piece on Lost in Agile Translation. Explore the links in the section “Speaking agile to musicians”. It’s educating, inspiring and how do I say this.. pure awesome? 🙂


  2. Ingvald Skaug

    December 30, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    when planning and practicing the performance (no.3+4), don’t forget improvisation as one of the most important variables (both if you do it or not).

    the risk is highest when the group include/ plan for improvisation, and also the potential for flow or failure, and then learning…


  3. Sergey Dmitriev

    January 1, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    I think, this has been done many times before, I attended such an event at Agile Estern Europe in Kyev, this autumn 🙂

    Worked really well, here is a video of the performance:


    • Sameer

      January 3, 2011 at 9:26 am

      Thanks Sergey for sharing the video! That’s just amazing and inspiring. I will get in touch with you to learn more details on this. Haven’t heard if anything like this was ever done in a US gathering.

      May be this year would be a good time to do it!


    • Ken 'classmaker' Ritchie

      August 10, 2015 at 3:49 pm

      Sergey, thanks for the example! A bar/lounge area seems like a natural setting for that.


  4. Sergey Dmitriev

    January 4, 2011 at 7:16 am

    We´ve been doing such Jam-sessions in US too, but its fun every time, so jump on and do it again and again and again 🙂


  5. John Peltier

    April 13, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    Hi Bendre, I stumbled over here from Twitter. Great post! I’m a bass player and would-be producer myself, so while I haven’t played much in a good while, I do enjoy jazz and think this is a great concept to illustrate some of the Agile principles in an inventive, entertaining way..

    Next time this happens in North Fulton, I hope to hear about it!


    • Sameer

      April 14, 2011 at 9:02 am

      Hey John, Thanks for stopping by! Wrote this piece when I was consulting in Ohio. Now back home in Atlanta.

      If I am not wrong I have seen you in ‘share the chair’ discussion at the Atlanta Scrum meetup during Mike Cottmeyer’s presentation. I know you are involved with product mgmt camp, right?

      See another agilist and a guitarist. :)..I hope to meet you soon!


  6. Ken 'classmaker' Ritchie

    August 10, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    YES!!! Great fun after hours. At one conference I attended, there was a good-sized concert room already furnished with low-rise stage, plenty of instruments, amps, lighting and sound gear. Open after hours, and supported by a technician. Nice setup for travelers to jam and mingle.



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