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Dear Agilist....

by Christopher Goldsbury on Dec 26, 2012 |

 Christopher Avery at the Cutter Consortium recently published an open letter to agilists on his blog.  The major points of his letter are summarized here. 

  • Agilists frequently site organizational culture and management as the major barriers to enterprise agile adoption.
  • Hoping for the culture and management to change is an unsuccessful strategy.
  • Agilists should become the management they are currently hoping will change.
  • Today's management and culture is steeped in linear thinking and this promotes: front loaded planning and analysis, organizational efficiency, focus on right and wrong, formality.
  • Agilists use iterative thinking and this promotes: experimentation, organizational effectiveness, a focus on learning, and discipline.
  • Today's management still has time to "retool".  
  • However, there are strong opportunities for new ideas and new talent that have the will and desire to make enterprise agile adoption happen.

According to Mr Avery's letter:

 

I also tell executives that it’s not too late for them to retool. Here’s the kicker: I tell them if they choose not to, there is a coming hoard of extremely disciplined young, business-minded, agilists ready to move into the ranks of management and replace them. 

 

 

 

 

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Interesting :-) by Ethar Alali

In my mind, one of the problems with many agilists (amongst many problems and I say this with one foot in the agile space) is that they are hoping that management will communicate using agilist 'language', to convince themselves [the management] of the benefits of agile. This is totally backwards, as it is the agile community that have to do the convincing. So they have to talk in the lanaguage of the management thinkers.

So despite the above 'threat', in reality very very few agilist understand enough about management to change organisations into agile ones, as those the threat above refer to are those that have grown up with agile management, lean startups etc. so have never had to 'change' an entire company from a lineat to agile organisation.

To communicate this effectively, agilists nee to learn the parallels in the management world. A large proportion of managers in blue chips for example, have MBAs or are six-sigma specialists. Part of the working towards that is understanding JIT manufacturing and production and lean thinking. They do this at a level agilists casn only dream of, yet agilists seem to think they have the monopoly on this style and cite the TPS as if they are the experts, when in reality, that is very far from the case.

They should communicate to management using that language and let management match the details of the JIT parallel and work it out. It is basic stakeholder management and politics, which management are already familiar with, thus making the learning curve (aka change) smaller (agilists understand small change) and allowing better, cheaper validated learning (from lean startup) and trusting the management to deliver (agilists want this desperately). Agilists often refuse to reciprocate trust. So why can't they apply it to the management and live by that philosophy themselves? This would show the management that it is an inclusive process, with them involved collaboratively. To gain trust you also have to put trust at some point.

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