I drove to Oxford last night to go to a meeting of the Thames Valley Agile SIG and take part in an XP Game. Quite a few people came along, though there seemed to be more developers present and less managers than I remember from the last couple of TVASIG meetings. (Which is a shame: as Olivier Lafontan said, the XP Game shows how the act of measuring value and calibrating velocity starts by addressing real business concerns and then leads naturally on to the other developer-centric XP practices.) All in all, the evening was both fun and eductional, which is appropriate given that we were "playing a game".
By coincidence, as I was driving and listening to the radio I heard a discussion about a book called "The Play Ethic". I was really struck by the subversively life affirming nature of some of the ideas, for example: The play ethic is about having the confidence to be spontaneous, creative and empathetic across every area of you life - in relationships, in the community, in your cultural life, as well as paid employment. It's about placing yourself, your passions and enthusiasms at the centre of your world. By clearing space for activities that are pleasurable, voluntary and imaginative - that is, for play - you'll have better memory, sharper reasoning and more optimism about the future. As Brian Sutton-Smith, the dean of Play Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, says, 'The opposite of play isn't work. It's depression. To play is to act out and be wilful, exultant and committed, as if one is assured of one's prospects.' So to call yourself a 'player', rather than a 'worker', is to immediately widen your conception of who you are and what you might be capable of doing. It is to dedicate yourself to realising your full human potential; to be active, not passive.
The timing of that message is apt: I recently gave notice that I am leaving my current position, in part because I want to spend more time as a "player" and less as a "worker". (Don't get the wrong idea: Thoughtworks is not a bad organisation to work for, and I have never come across such an amazing concentration of high quality people as I have whilst working there). But after two years I have become uncomfortable in a rapidly-growing consultancy focussed on the delivery of difficult software projects for large organisations. It's somehow both a strength and a weakness of my personality type that I want something with more of an emotional connection to my life and my values: INFJs value their integrity a great deal. They are generally "doers" as well as great dreamers. They have high expectations of themselves and need to live their lives in accordance with what they feel is right. They do this through total trust of their intuition. They believe in constant growth and don't often take time to revel in their accomplishments. INFJs are proud of their authenticity, respectful of their benevolence, confident of their empathy. They also are constantly in a state of self-renewal.
Now certainly feels like the right time for self-renewal...