Feature Injection, The Meme Lifecycle and Serendipity

For me, Serendipity is a beautiful happenstance. A series of events that lead to a beautiful and astounding coincidence. Yesterday I stood in the Carl Larsson exhibition in Helsinki and shed a tear at the beauty of what I beheld.

“Break the Model” in Feature Injection is a process for learning. It is effectively David A. Kolb’s experential learning circle. “Break the Model” has four steps. First, spot an example. Second, reflect on whether the example is relevant and/or if it is actually a new example. Third, create a test by detailing out an example (and store the example). Fourth, create a “model” which is used to help you identify other examples (step one) that will break your model. On Thursday Olaf Lewitz helped me present on Feature Injection at ScanAgile. Olaf had realised that we are not creating a model which is a simplification of reality. Instead we are creating an “Olaf”** which is a summary of examples.

As well as using an “Olaf” to spot new examples, it can also be used to spot more examples of the same kind. A few years ago I created just such an “Olaf”. Julian Everett’s Meme Lifecycle helped me understand certain forces at work in the creative world. The example I gave in the comic strip is “Flowers on Windows”, a meme that existed in the work of Charles Rennie Mactintosh and Frank Lloyd Wright. In actual fact, the meme should have been called “Flowers on Light”. Yesterday I saw the meme in the fabrics designed by Carl Larsson’s wife Karin Larsson. I immediately saw the similarity with the works of Charles Rennie Mactintosh and Margaret Macdonald (Mackintosh’s wife).

Why is the meme significant?

Agile is based on the patterns group which evolved from the work of Christopher Alexander. At Agile2009, Kent MacDonald and I visited the home of Frank Lloyd Wright in Oak Park. It was like stepping into Christopher Alexander’s Pattern’s Book. The similarities to Mackintosh’s work were obvious, especially the “Flower on Windows” meme. If Alexander was Agile’s granfather, Wright was it’s great grandfather. But where did Wright get his inspiration? I now had a meme I could use to trace the influences.

If I could spot it, I might find a another clue to the orgins of Agile. Yesterday I spotted the meme in the textiles of Carl Larsson’s wife Karin. A massive smile appeared on my face. I walked around the corner of the exhibition and was stunned by what I saw? A board covered in post it notes. Now that’s what I call Serendipity.

In the next room of the exhibition, the organisers had blown up Carl Larsson’s pictures to create a massive Wendy House maze where children were dressing up and creating pictures.

“Flowers in Light” is a meme that responded to the inhumanity of the industrial revolution. It was a way to bring nature (flowers) and light into the cities. The parallel’s to agile are obvious. Carl Larsson is a new example. I now need to reflect and research to discover whether he was an influence on Wright and Mackintosh or whether he was simply responding to the “Flowers in Light” meme. Was he the great great grandfather of Agile or just an earlier incarnation?

** Known as an Olaf until we can find a better name.

About theitriskmanager

Currently an “engineering performance coach” because “transformation” and “Agile” are now toxic. In the past, “Transformation lead”, “Agile Coach”, “Programme Manager”, “Project Manager”, “Business Analyst”, and “Developer”. Did some stuff with the Agile Community. Put the “Given” into “Given-When-Then”. Discovered “Real Options” View all posts by theitriskmanager

3 responses to “Feature Injection, The Meme Lifecycle and Serendipity

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