Distributed Cognition, marrying GTD with Agile Collaboration tools

This article by Francis Heylighen and Clément Vidal points out an interesting opportunity to leverage the concepts of external cognition tools like David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology to assist in the working world for a collaborative environment that supports distributed cognition. While the paper describes a help desk ticketing system, when they discuss a points based system for organizing and estimating work, they are really talking about a system that we use in agile to do collaborative planning. I have often been toying with the idea of a connection between agility and GTD, but haven’t really figured it out until I read this article. What planning with sticky notes allows us to do is to get things out of our head, a GTD principle, and use distributed cognition to leverage the higher order intelligences of our mammalian brain, rather than our reptile brain.  Rather than having to keep stories or ideas in our head, in a contentious meeting, for instance, we can collaborate together if we get all of our ideas onto sticky notes and put them on a wall. Now we are free to group and prioritize the ideas using multi-dot voting to come up with the best idea. Part of this process that is so compelling to me, is the idea that once you stop using your brain to remember things (and we probably only have a 2 week memory for events and experiences anyway), we can use physical reminders of things to remember stories, risks, features, vision so our higher order thinking can come in and consider alternate approaches or scenarios, without the concern of forgetting details.

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