Standing on the shoulders of giants

Standing on the shoulders of giants

Have a look at this picture. I took this during ALE2012. It was a local spectacle offered by the organizers to make us think about being agile.

It is a powerful metaphor, it inspired me to lots and lots of stories.

Today I want you to look again at the top. Do you see who is at the top?
is it:

No. It’s the smallest kid. Being an agile coach, I can be biased and say it’s because he is the most flexible, agile person.
Tonight I don’t even want to go that way.

Do you know what needs to happen for him to reach the top?

  • The full team needs to trust it’s gonna work. Yes I saw them multiple time starting over, until it was fine for everyone.
  • The small kid, is probably the one with the least experience, so for him to reach the top, he has to listen to the people with more experience.
  • I assume that some people at the bottom, used to be the little kid. They have moved on and they had to accept that they will never reach the top again. Yet thanks to their experience, their group can now maybe create bigger statues.

And once he has reached his top spot, that’s not the end. I saw them moving as a group, the kid high up in the air.

Standing on the shoulders of giants, that’s how I feel in the communities I flutter  around:

  • I trust the people I work with.
  • Like the little kid, I’m not the smartest person in my world yet I listen to the smarter people around me.
  • I have no idea if I will ever reach the top, or if my job is to support the people reaching higher…

Standing on the shoulders of giants.

For me, working as a change agents, is

  • NOT about being the smartest person.
  • NOT about who is the best author
  • NOT about the person where most people listen too


It’s about knowing when to listen to who and also knowing when to  move on and drop idea’s whose expiry date has long been gone…

I have no idea any more what they said, yet this post is inspired by what Liz Keog and Elisabeth Hendrickson said in their acceptance speeches for the Gordon Pask Award about standing on the shoulders of giants.