The Senex Rex name and logo each have relevant back stories.
Senex Rex is a latin phrase that means “philosopher king.” my middle name is Rex, named after his grandfather Rex Pardee Teeters. The name was coined initially as a Burning Man name. I have been an active participant in Burning Man, hosting a puppet theater, a particulate measurement project, taking official photographs for the “Burning Man Documentation Team,” and more.
A Jungian psychologist pal once argued that I was a “senex,” an old philosopher with a dour demeanor who provided wise counsel. It seems odd to think of an active Burning Man participant as “dour,” but can we really argue with psychologists? It was a bit sarcastic, but it felt right, and I became “Senex Rex,” “D Rex,” or “Tiny Rex” (I’m 6’3″ tall) on playa.
The Senex Rex logo was developed with a highly agile process through 99 Designs, a competitive design site. My mom was a graphic design professor, who developed logos and print designs (and oils, water colors, calligraphy, etc.).
I paid top-dollar to promote the campaign to the largest number of candidates, and reward them with the greatest commission (at the time, the cost was $650). I informed candidate artists that I was looking for a logo that reflected the values of agile.
- We advocated experimentation to produce better value at lower cost.
- We iterated from one experiment to another, using what we learned to adapt both the product (the logo) and the way-of-working (the activities of the designer).
- I taught all my designer-candidates agile during this process.
- I directed each designer to create something original and different from the others (this is called “set based design”).
Ultimately, I received over 600 designs, all very different. This design stood out. Originally, it was orange on top, black on bottom. Because accounting traditionally marks profit as black and loss as red (leading to the term “Black Friday” for the day following US Thanksgiving, when many shoppers drive retailers “into the black”). I put dark grey on top with dark red on bottom for that reason.
The colors show the financial impact of agile. Initially, when using agile your profits may be low, as you build the capability to iterate. There is a cost to DevOps (automated and developer-led processes for releasing products). But on implementation, costs start dropping, and profits rise.
The “arrows feathers” drive progress forward. In most Western countries, we read left-to-right, and the direction is forward.
Each black/red feather is a discrete iteration. If you look at that iteration in a certain way, you can see the leading edges of a box. Agile processes incorporate “time boxing,” where we strictly limit the maximum time for an iteration and all meetings. Better to experiment cheaply and repeatedly than to create a perfect, expensive experiment that never gets started; time boxes force that to happen.
The Senex Rex logo is a lesson or two in agile. Your agile transformation efforts can (and should) be organized in an agile way, as a succession of process-change experiments, just as the Senex Rex logo was developed in an agile way. Once your agile process is happening, you will experience the logo as a symbol for how you and your organization have changed and now work.