🧒 Human-centric leadership? Treat me like a toddler.

How Montessori kids own 90% of the internet and the striking similarities to Agile Management

Agile Management vs. Montessori Method

What do Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and Jimmy Wales have in common? They all went to Montessori school.

Most people have heard about the Montessori Method - a school system created primarily for children between 2 and 6 years of age. Founded in the early 1900s, they’ve expanded to about 15,000 schools worldwide, 3,000 of which are in the US.

So what is the tie to the success that drives 90% of the internet?

The research is there - Montessori better prepares kids to be successful adults.

Not only that but there’s an undeniable link in similarities between Agile Management and the Montessori Method. Let’s dive in.

Principles of the Montessori Method

The Montessori method is based on several key principles that guide its educational approach. These principles include:

  1. Play is work: We should take play seriously to allow for self-expression and to accommodate periods of heightened sensitivity to learning and knowledge

  2. Respect for the Child: The method emphasizes respect for the child's individuality and the belief that each child is a unique person with their own potential

  3. Prepared Environment: The learning environment is carefully prepared to facilitate independent learning and exploration, with materials and activities that are accessible and developmentally appropriate

  4. Freedom with Limits: Children are given freedom to explore and learn at their own pace within a structured and supportive environment, allowing them to develop independence and self-discipline

  5. Hands-On Learning: The method promotes hands-on, experiential learning, where children engage in practical activities to understand and interact with the world around them

  6. Observation: Educators observe children to understand their interests, development, and learning needs, and use this information to guide the learning process

  7. Independence: Montessori education fosters independence by encouraging children to take responsibility for their own learning, care for themselves, and contribute to their environment

Principles of Agile Management

The principles of Agile management, as outlined in the Agile Manifesto and its 12 guiding principles, include:

  1. Customer Satisfaction: Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

  2. Changing Requirements: Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage.

  3. Iterative Builds: Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.

  4. Collaboration: Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.

  5. Autonomy: Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.

  6. Face-to-face: The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

  7. Tangible Outputs: Working software is the primary measure of progress.

  8. Sustainability: Agile processes promote sustainable development.

  9. Consistency: The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

  10. Excellence: Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

  11. Simplicity: The art of maximizing the amount of work not done is essential.

  12. Self-organization: The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing team

Similarities between Agile & Montessori

The principles of Montessori and Agile share some commonalities, particularly in their focus on autonomy, respect, and understanding. Both approaches emphasize:

  • Autonomy and Empowerment: Both Montessori and Agile aim to empower individuals. The Montessori method provides children with freedom within limits, allowing them to pursue their interests, while Agile principles emphasize self-organizing teams and motivated individuals.

  • Self-Directed Learning: Montessori education follows the child's interests and allows for self-paced learning, similar to the Agile principle of building projects around motivated individuals.

  • Collaboration and Peer Learning: The Montessori approach facilitates peer-to-peer learning, as children of different ages work independently and seek help from each other, which aligns with the Agile emphasis on collaboration and self-organizing teams.

  • Setting Boundaries: Montessori begins with prepared environments and continued observation encouraging independence and self-expression. Similarly, Agile management principles advocate for clear boundaries and guidelines within the team while promoting self-organization and collaboration.

While the contexts of application are different, both Montessori and Agile management prioritize flexibility, collaboration, and individual empowerment in their respective domains of parenting and management.

With the growing trend of human-centric leadership, it’s worth borrowing inspiration from various sources on ways we can encourage play, autonomy, and sustainable working.

The TLDR? Treat me like a toddler.