Mobile Meditation on The Tyranny of Experts

William Easterly’s book, The Tyranny of Experts, explains in details with research, observations, and keen insights how the West has helped impose tyranny on “the rest”, the undeveloped or less-developed world through a technocracy of expertise that has clearly failed to produce the promised results. Easterly compares what the West has done, often re-energizing colonial tendencies of exploitation by supporting or installing dictatorial regimes, to what had enabled the West to develop in the first place. And that is through the evolution of rights, especially for individuals. These are rights of speech, of worship, of property ownership, especially for those at the bottom of the social ladder.

In this, my first “mobile meditation”, during a bike ride in October 2023, I begin thinking through the implications of applying this wisdom to individual and organizational coaching. How would we apply the idea of “individual rights” in organizations? What’s more, when we think through our own personal development needs – how often do we outsource our own capacities to experts? How often do we tyrannize ourselves?

Jim McCarthy and Culture Hacking

Culture HackingJim McCarthy, author of the Dynamics of Software Development and co-author with his wife Michele of Software For Your Head, showed up at the Agile Open Northwest conference last week with a protective plastic layer he unfolded on one of the lunch tables. He sat there with blank canvases, paint, and a menu of conversations – and invited people to dabble paint along with him. This post is about the “Culture Hacking” menu item – for which Jim also held a late night 8pm session in the Seattle Center with about 15 other attendees.

If you’re not familiar with Jim and Michele’s work, the best introduction is probably their entertaining “McCarthy Show“, a podcast with years of recordings. And there are more concise writings available there as well, though my experience is the only way to really get the power of their work is to try a bootcamp and feel the power of a “booted” team. But some of this power is evident in Jim’s speech attached to this post.

Jim delivered a rousing and mobilizing talk calling forth those who work with software, and especially those who are reinventing the way that we do work through forward leading organizational and management tools like Scrum, Kanban, and “Agile” and “Lean” ideas in general – to bring on a new Golden Era like Classical Greece, circa 500 B.C. He believes we can do this by programming culture with the same hacker ethos that helped them reclaim the hardware and access to it from mainframe elites of the 60’s and 70’s, and which was moved forward by the Open Source movement.

Jim’s claim is that we’re only at the “pong” level of cultural hacks with tools like Scrum, Kanban, eXtreme Programming, and the other tools of the Agile Software movement. In a short time, we’ll start to see cultural programmed applications that are orders of magnitude from even the leading edge of what teams are doing right now.

Jim McCarthy at Agile Open Northwest

BarCamps, Unconferences, & Berlin

Missoula BarCamp t-shirt visiting the Garden of Exile at the Berlin Jewish Museum

This post is really a podcast. I’ll be writing later about the Missoula BarCamp and the World Open Space on Open Space in Berlin, both held May 2010. But this post is a podcast of a recording extracted from my Android phone of the last 30 minutes of a session convened by Jon Harvey and attended by about 18 others, including myself.

Berlin WOSonOS 2010 – BarCamps Unconferences

The picture is of me in Berlin wearing my Missoula BarCamp t-shirt in the Berlin Jewish Museum which a sizable group of the World Open Space on Open Space attendees visited after the conference. The photo was taken in the Garden of Exile by another attendee, Hempal Shrestha.