The Tao of Agile, part 1

Dov Tsal
Dov Tsal
Dec 5, 2016 · 4 min read

In the division of Agility vs Stuff, please consider this post as Stuff

— I’ve been ‘doing Agile’ for quite a few years now, and it changed my life (see previous posts :)

- I’ve been reading and re-reading the book of Tao for the last 5 years, and it changed my life.

And the more I deal with these two,
— the more I find the Book of Tao to be the most concise Agile guide.
— the more I find Lau-Tzu to be the most incredible Agile mentor.

Hence, I’d like to start a series of posts to let you into this world, with ease and attention, since …

A journey









But first, what is the Tao, and what is Agile?

- To get the root definition of Agile, you can just go here.

- To get the root definition of Tao, here is the first verse in the book of Tao, where Lau Tzu explains what it is:
(Based on the wonderful translation of Nissim Amon, which I tweaked a tiny bit… with hope to be forgiven…)


The eternal Tao (Path)

can not be captured by words

Trying to give it a name

will not help reveal its true core


is the source

of heaven and earth.

Without title

is the mother

of the tens of thousands of objects (1)

While blinded by desires

you can only see the external things. (2)


you can see the unseen (3)

There are many things in the world

And they all bear names.

Yet there is one big mystery

both behind and beyond (4)

The great mystery and the world of things

differ by name

yet their source is one

They spring from the same source


Live without fear

Feel the world

Breath the obstacles (let them in) (6)

Know this world

Beyond The Phenomena gate

Flows The river

Of Tao (0)

And now, some of my comments (take them with a grain of salt, please, I’m just trying to share my humble understanding :-)

(0) Translations of Tao also include: ‘way’, ‘path’, ‘route’, ‘key’ or sometimes more loosely ‘doctrine’ or ‘principle’

(1) All the objects you see (this screen, a car, a pen, an apple, your parents, your country) have their name, but the one big thing they belong to has no name (‘everything’ is not its name, since it is ‘every thing’, not the unity of all)

(2) If your desire is hunger, you will see apples and bread, if your desire is sex, you will see breasts and torsos, if your desire is money, you will see prices,

(3) but if you desire nothing you will start seeing beyond these labels, you will start seeing the apple and tree as one, you will start seeing body features with no name, you will see objects with no regard to their cost.

(4) The big mystery is the single common source of all that exists as one entity. and the sum of all that exists.

(5) Here Lau-Tzu becomes directional, he instructs you how to behave in order to connect to what he described (or, how to become (what later will be known as) a Taoist.)

(6) Instead of ignoring obstacles (or pain), denying it or fighting it, just observe and accept it with no judgement.

Basically, Agility (as I perceive it) is a mindset, a way to see a problem, a project. to look it in the eye and understand it. and then to address it while it keeps moving and changing.

While the ‘old-school’ approach is to first try to understand the situation, and then close your eyes and react (opening them only when you are done with your plan, if ever)
Agile means starting to react while facing a moving target, while not assuming you understand or know everything.

In the upcoming posts, I’ll talk more about things like:

- The inspiring structure of the Manifesto, as a set of values that stand side-by-side.

- The clear division of Vision and Execution (Yin-Yang)

- The importance of maximizing the work not-done

- Agile and non-Agile ways of governance.


Stay tuned :)


My thoughts about Agility, Taoism, Drawing and anything related (or not)

Dov Tsal

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Dov Tsal


My thoughts about Agility, Taoism, Drawing and anything related (or not)