And how I think agile was meant to be
I was educated as a Software engineer and loved the science classes at high school. This was one part laziness, you only needed to know some basic rules for the sciences and then apply them. This took me less time than memorizing a lot of stuff you needed with other classes. My mind had a knack for and was trained for analytical problem solving. But was I also easily bored, so I like to engage my mind on my own terms. I always tried the grasp the basic concepts and did the rest mostly on intuition, visualizing problems and extrapolating by association. That let me make a lot of mistakes, but I learned from those and adjusted my internal model of the material to grasp. That kept me engaged and a lot less bored.
Limitations and a clear goal thrive my creativity
For example: I love cooking for others, but I don't like planning and recipes because that means no (less) thinking and a predictable outcome. I find that following the recipe step by step is quite boring. So when I shop I let my guest pick out the ingredients he or she likes. Then when I am back in the kitchen I start imagining different dishes with the available ingredients and cook them. Through constraints I become creative and being creative and to be challenged is fun! How can I achieve a certain goal with the limited means available? It's like a puzzle to me and I love that. The goal is clear I only need to define and assemble the pieces. Previous successes and failures help me to decide what to try next, what tasted good and what did not. Associations that I gained through the experience of eating in restaurants, what I saw on on a cooking show or what I ate at a friends place expand my view of the endless possibilities of cooking and preparing food.
Train your brain for visualization and association
Our brains are well designed computers for visual information processing and rapid association. Text and audio is harder to remember that an abstract form associated with that text or audio. Ever wondered why a good power point presentation has so many crazy images? You associate the stimulating image with the message the presenter conveys, this way it will linger longer in our brain. Why are metaphors so powerful in speeches? Because you can imagine (visualize) the message. The next time so want to remember something, or try to get a grasp on a problem. Try visualizing this on paper or in your mind.
"Gratz!! You Unlocked an Awesome Achievement: You Created something new!"
That is the feeling I get when I achieve my goal. The downside: after this I get bored. So I quickly need to find me a new puzzle. I also need to find people to work with me who are different, who complement me and get bored with different stuff, so everyone can always be engaged and have fun! Experiment, try, change, adapt and create. When creating something virtual or trying to solve a physical problem. I think a bit, trying to visualize the problem. I quickly look for pieces, mock them up, try them together, quick and dirty, evaluate. Try another way that might improve, or change the way I think about the problem space. Rip it apart and try again, until I have reached my desired goal.
A while ago I was developing an agile training. When I was looking for material to illustrate the agile way of thinking I discovered the Growth Mindset. One of the characteristics of a growth mindset set is: "Mistakes are opportunities to learn and are not perceived as personal failure." Whenever I make a mistake I try to seize this opportunity to learn, this is not always easy. Sometimes making mistakes or receiving feedback can trigger a negative emotional response. But to realize that you and only you are responsible for that perception, and thus have the ability to change that is the first step towards learning. The nature of experiments is making mistakes, or better said not seeing the expected outcome. To try and to fail is winning, but only if you learn from this opportunity. Another way this could be described is the Trial and Error way. This does not mean to try blindly, but to try and learn actively and approach this in a deliberate and disciplined way. When you try often you will learn more quickly and thus it helps to keep your feedback cycles as short as possible.
In agile, or any way of working really, there should be a clear goal to be achieved. This goal should in someway help create Value. Value can be concrete. The most common example in business is: make more money. But value can also be a bit more abstract: delight people, improve visibility or accessibility, have fun. Or even more basic: survive, still hunger, be rested. Marketeers and (commercial) companies often use terms like, conversion, engagement, brand visibility, in the end this is all almost always focused on money. When working on a project or product creating value is your main goal. Your means are limited, there is only so much time and there are only that many people in your team.
When you focus on the value creation, given the constraints, you can be very creative. If you focus on the constraints, given the value, you get very rigid.