New Skills

I have been knitting a pair of socks for myself this last week – on a set of four needles – in the round. It is really easy to do because I can just keep knitting and only need to use purl stitches when I make the heel.

I first tried making socks on a pair of needles (like normal knitting).

2 needlesI was very surprised when it was quite difficult – heels had to be formed at both ends, every second row was purl and the finished sock had a seam underneath the foot.

So I tried with 4 needles and it took a little while to work out how to hold them – but it is much easier.

Knitting in the roundI wonder how many other things I have avoided trying because they look difficult? I could be missing out on gaining some new skills.


The image that I have used at the top of these pages is a photo that I took outside the London Zoo on the pathway between Gloucester Gate and The Broadwalk path. It was in February 2012 the week after CALM Alpha and it was a beautiful day – I think that the temperature reached 16 or 17 degrees Celsius. I felt almost alone – there were not many people around and I took a few photos from the same point such as the one below looking at the zoo.

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREI chose the image for this blog because there are some shadows at the front and not many shadows cast by the trees in the distance due to the scattering of clouds that were in the sky. I find the idea of shadows interesting, it is another way of looking at an object and I wonder if we can use the concept to look at methods and principles or values?

If we start with a principle or value from Agile or Lean – are the methods that we use like the shadows of those principles or values? Or is it the other way around?


We can start with a goal in mind and then follow a process in order to reach that goal. I have been wondering if this approach sometimes stifles our creativity and what other approaches might also be valid.

 What if we started messing around and doing some random stuff?MessOnce we have done this for a while, we could stand back and look at our creation from different angles.

ArtPerhaps it will look like something useful and then we can decide what to do with it. Somewhere between random stuff and processes we can find creativity and innovation.

Comparative Context

Thank you to Steve Holt for the term ‘comparative context’ and Jay Johnson also for the twitter conversation that got me thinking about the difference between numbers and descriptive words when we are setting goals.

‘I want to stand close enough to an apple tree that I can smell the apples’ – in this case numbers are almost irrelevant because the words ‘close enough’ provide comparative context.

  • The apples must be ripe enough to smell – so it must be the right season
  • I must not have a bad cold – otherwise I will not smell anything
  • If it is raining, we will need cover, such as an umbrella

Imagine trying to describe this using numbers – we would need a lot more than this list.

  • Distance = 10cm
  • Rhino-virus level less than x%
  • Humidity less than 80%

Comparative ContextWhen we set goals, we often use a lot of numbers – perhaps we are trying to provide sufficient context. It is worth considering using descriptive words instead – a few words can provide a huge amount of meaning.

 Jay Johnson has posted his thoughts inspired by the conversation – Near, Far and Full Context