Are you a Viking?

Posted on SogetiLabs, date May 24th, 2016:

012 - Yola & Co And the Viking Laws-1

During my travels I am always looking for links with the Agile world. There are many examples where a more iterative and value driven mindset is used to achieve certain goals and I use these examples in my work and teachings.

Other Agile experts also have this professional deformation and we meet up on Agile Coach Camps and other Agile events. One of those Agile friends is Rolf Dräther (Happycentric) whom I met on our Agile Coach Camp NL (ACCNL16) this year. Rolf had taken a trip to Norway and was intrigued by a postcard he found there. The postcard showed him the Viking Laws and he was astonished how well they can be mapped onto Agile culture.

The text on the postcard was this:


1) Be brave and aggressive

Be direct
Grab all opportunities
Use varying methods of attack
Be versatile and agile
Attack one target at a time
Don’t plan everything in detail
Use top quality weapons

2) Be prepared

Keep weapons in good condition
Keep in shape
Find good battle comrades
Agree on important points
Choose one Chief

3) Be a good merchant

Find out what the market needs
Don’t promise what you can’t keep
Don’t demand overpayment
Arrange things so that you can return

4) Keep the camp in order

Keep things tidy and organized
Arrange enjoyable activities which strengthen the group
Make sure everybody does useful work
Consult all members of the group for advice

Looking at these laws I’m struck by how well they fit on Agile cultures. The first set shows the way Agile teams approach the work they have, to not have a Big Design Up Front, to be open and direct, to use Swarming (get one item done at a time – to limit work in progress), and the approach towards tooling.

The second applies to how Agile teams are set up with a focus on technical excellence and to have just one person responsible for the product so the team does not have more than one person setting the vision.

When I look at the third one I see the way Agile teams deal with the outside world. To look at what is important now in the current marketplace and go for what brings the most value. Measuring what can be done in one iteration and only picking up (and promising) what they can deliver. To not work overtime, and be clear in expectations so people want to keep coming.

The last set for me represents how teams do their work. They use the boy-scout rule, leaving the code they work on better than they found it. They keep the work they do fun for all. They don’t do the work alone, everyone has a say in the product development and are all there during refinement sessions.

I am going to use this in my trainings and while coaching my teams. They can apply these rules, and/or add to them.
Maybe you can ask yourself these questions:

Am I a Viking?

Can I live up to these Viking Laws?

What are my laws?

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