Jeep, Jungle and Journey

It’s recently come to my attention how difficult it is for many Agile Practitioners to discern the 3 J’s, because they don’t even have that mental model.

The consequence of not understanding this metaphor is that we fall prey to adjust processes too swiftly when encountering a situational impediment (“unexplored jungle”), that we fail to notice the strategic implications of encountering a quagmire inherent to the work (“unfeasible journey”), or that we enter local optimization that may have a benefit in the current situation at the expense of long-term outcomes (“salvaging the jeep”).

Combined with the differentiation between common and special cause variation, I have been using the metaphor in my mnanagement consulting work to re-focus the discussion about problems and potential change initiatives, saving both significant time at management level and enabling more self-organization at team level.

It’s extremely powerful to de-celerate overheated systems where execution signals and noise are hard to discern.

Just a miniscule kudos to the power of a simple, yet utterly profound mental model taught nowhere except in TameFlow :slight_smile:


Well, @Michael_Kuesters… couldn’t agree more! :smiley:

In the picture though, not sure I like the terms “situation” and “direction.”

The Jeep is the “means” - yes. (Your teams, your “way of working.”)

But the Jungle is not only the “situation.” It is the situation plus what you think is about to come. It is the plan that you have mapped over that terrain. It is what you think might happen given the (limited and incomplete) knowledge of the terrain (“It is a Jungle!”).

The Journey is not only the “direction” - it is all the “stuff that happens” while you are moving towards your destination. It is all the surprises that hit you while you are moving across the Jungle. It is hypothesized knowledge materializing - often in ways you were not able to foresee.

Not sure if I’m able to explain this… But I am sure you will interpret it! :rofl:


Jungle = Crystal ball

Journey = Obstacle course

Nope… the Jungle is not Crystal ball… It is the terrain you do have a reasonable knowledge about; it is not mere speculation.

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In “the army” a saying is often used: “In case map and terrain contradicts - follow the terrain”. That is probably good advice. Just like the process of collaboratively planning (hypothesis about the terrain) is more important than the plan (the map) it self. So here the “terrain” is the same as “the jungle” - as I understand it.


Yes @mark! It is the wisdom you gain after getting lost a few times looking at maps and not looking at where you are going! :rofl: