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Nigel Dalton on Taking Back Management

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In this podcast recorded at the Agile India conference Shane Hastie, Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke to Nigel Dalton, Chief Inventor at REA Group about his experiences and the need to take back management as an important practice in today’s organizations.

Key Takeaways

  • There is a science of invention – deliberately combining things that you might not have thought of combining before
  • What matters more than having an agile process is having a resilient organisation – bounce-back-ability
  • The four elements which need to be present for sustainable success are good management, resilience, creativity and agility 
  • Management as a profession and practice has become tainted and unpopular, yet good management is critical to organisation success
  • The more organisations that can apply humanistic values, lean principles, value focus, flow of work and continuous improvement the stronger the economy will become

Show Notes

  • 00:35 Introductions
  • 01:47 The role of Chief Inventor
  • 02:15 We solved the easy problems of online systems many years ago – the challenges are much more complex now
  • 02:31 The science of invention – deliberately combining things that you might not have thought of combining before
  • 02:49 An example of virtual reality property tours in the rental market
  • 03:18 How the VR product evolved to solve a problem for renters
  • 03:31 49 out of 50 inventions in REA labs fail or are not needed, and that’s OK
  • 04:21 Agile is the last thing you need
  • 05:32 What matters more than having an agile process is having a resilient organisation
  • 06:18 Things needed for resilience start with management
  • 06:43 The inheritance of ideas that have come to represent management are no longer valid and the term has fallen out of favour  
  • 07:28 The language of leadership has become a substitute for management
  • 07:43 Management includes leadership and includes strategy, organisation of people; money and budgeting and creating a clear sense of purpose
  • 07:58 The way management was defined by Toyota, the Lean movement and in terms of systems thinking is what management should be today
  • 08:12 Well managed people do lead to resilient people
  • 08:24 Resilient people are able to be creative problem solvers
  • 08:46 The four elements which need to be present for sustainable success are good management, resilience, creativity and agility
  • 09:23 The common approach of wanting to buy some agile is about as dumb as wanting to buy some DevOps
  • 09:48 The vacuum of good management means that bad management ideas and behaviours have lots of influence and impact on organisations
  • 10:00 The lesson from Lonely Planet was that no matter how agile you are in delivery, the strategy needs to be invested in the right place – otherwise we solve the wrong problems
  • 11:15 Good management has many similarities with agility
  • 11:23 Exploring the history of management thinking that fed into the agile manifesto and the formation of the agile movement
  • 12:18 The agile manifesto was a reaction to the bad management practices of the 1980’s and 1990’s
  • 12:58 Tracing back to the Toyota Production System and Lean thinking – there was no book on TPS until the early 1990’s, yet the practices had been in place for decades before then
  • 13:52 The snackable media that have obfuscated the important messages from Toyota Production System, Systems Thinking and Lean
  • 14:45 The status of 20 by 2020 – a goal of having 20% of Australian businesses adopting agile ways of working by 2020
  • 15:05 The ANZ Bank as an example of a large organisation who are making a genuine transformation  
  • 15:20 Any organisation with less than 150 people is inherently agile in their ways of working
  • 15:42 The more organisations that can apply humanistic values, lean principles, value focus, flow of work and continuous improvement the stronger the economy will become
  • 16:10 Innovation is another term that has been subsumed and politicized to the point that it is no longer meaningful
  • 16:34 Innovation has come to mean “a robot taking a working-class job” to many people
  • 17:21 Innovation should be about engaging the mind of everyone in your business in meeting the customer’s needs
  • 17:38 The pace of change will only get faster and there are tools to cope – if you’re building software use agile, if you’re a manufacturer use lean, if you’re a service business look to system thinking
  • 18:05 The generation of graduates coming into the workforce are inherently agile in their thinking
  • 18:44 For many organisations the path to change is about waiting for the current generation of senior executives to retire or die
  • 19:09 Growing the economy is about serving customers anywhere in the world now
  • 19:28 Australia and New Zealand culture is super-inventive
  • 19:52 Almost every family has an inventor story in their history
  • 20:06 Discussing the New Zealand economy’s reliance on tourism 

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