Thanksgiving and Agile

Thanksgiving is celebrated this week.

The origins of the holiday provide us a great way to view the important work we do every day for delivery of additional value to our customers; internal and external, and how the agile mindset of continuous improvement and learning facilitates that.

The story goes:

In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.

Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. In March, the remaining settlers moved ashore, where they received an astonishing visit from an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English. Several days later, he returned with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Squanto taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years and tragically remains one of the sole examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans.

In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving”—although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time—the festival lasted for three days. While no record exists of the historic banquet’s exact menu, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote in his journal that Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the event, and that the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deer. Historians have suggested that many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. Because the Pilgrims had no oven and the Mayflower’s sugar supply had dwindled by the fall of 1621, the meal did not feature pies, cakes or other desserts, which have become a hallmark of contemporary celebrations.

The lesson of the pilgrims is shared by farmers and others today.  In order to harvest and get your bounty, you must invest in the time.  ‘You reap what you sow’ is the saying. In that simple wisdom is the thought behind continuous improvement and the agile philosophy of ‘lifelong learning’

Every day we get a chance to take small risks, learn new things and invest in ‘sharpening our saws’.  For this Thanksgiving we offer you the ‘seeds’ you can harvest next year.

Below are several opportunities for you to improve yours skills or learn new ones, many for free.  In today’s competitive marketplace everyone has to control their own personal development plan, you have to seek new opportunities and challenges and you have to embrace change for your own competitive advantage!  Feel free to share your own learning spaces!  Remember when you make anyone on your team better, we all get better, and provide better results!

This post wishes everyone a great and SAFE Thanksgiving and hopefully the seeds for a successful harvest next year!

Enjoy your holiday!

Packt offers FREE technology books:

EDX offers free courses or you can pay a fee for some certifications:

The Khan Academy offers many types of free learning:

The Microsoft Virtual Academy offer many free trainings: