Agile dreamers vs. industry fake actors

I am always surprised to read postings where agile or “new work” approaches are opposed to other methods or organisational forms. Preferably in overstating phrases like “What the agile dreamers can’t imagine…” or “What will take the new-work generation by surprise…”. The other way round, of course, in articles that prophesy an almost certain collapse of a company in the case of hierarchical leadership cultures or patriarchal leadership figures. The intention here is to create frontiers that are not actually there.

I can tell you from my own experience with my PreSales team what immense potential Lean and Agile have. What a wonderful self-managed working environment is created. What great efficiency potential agile has. Measured in hard business figures, it means more revenue and profit. For me, agile working is an absolutely important factor for modern companies.

However, Agile is not a universal answer to all problems. No agile coach or trainer I know claims that either. Agile has the most potential in complex environments. For example, in the development of future technologies or business ideas. Even with problems whose cause is unknown for a long time because all the variables seem chaotic, an agile approach is more powerful than all linear analysis methods.

Nevertheless, if you have all the data under control and find yourself in complicated or simple areas, it is not worthwhile to tinker with Agile obsessively. Methods are most useful where they come from, here is a typical time evolution:

  1. agile development of a visionary product or service
  2. lean to adapt and optimise the efficiency of this product or service
  3. Six Sigma (or similar) to streamline the quality and cost of the mature product or service.

I hope we now agree that agile is not competing against other methods on the level of methods. Agile is a part of your portfolio if it is done well.

Now briefly about organisations. Companies that have almost completely embraced New Work are still scarce. If you are interested, Frederic Laloux tells you about some of them in his book “Reinventing Organizations”. In initial agile projects, trying things out and getting oriented is the crucial goal. It is not always about the way to a fully agile organisation. A good mix of existing culture with freedom for agile culture is the golden path.

How much agile freedom is needed can vary greatly. A company that is highly efficient in producing certain products may need less agile value creation producing new technologies in a highly competitive market.

Finally, let’s look at leadership style. A classic hierarchy in which superiors are always wiser than their subordinates. Who essentially define all the resolutions and are making all the decisions. Such social systems, according to Asby’s law, are disadvantaged. Whether such companies all end bad by this management style, is quite another question. As their competitor, I would use this disadvantage.

Yet as an example of a form of hierarchy that is not pervasive, let’s take patriarchal leaders who run their shop alone. Such people usually have a strong focus, i.e. promising ideas are sponsored with a lot of resources, projects with little outcome are quickly abandoned.

By the way, agile units are often found in these companies. A hierarchical system and agility are not contradictory. Whether you want to work there is a separate question entirely. For one thing is clear: whether your project is a promising idea and develops well is decided by the company boss alone.

In other words, there is no conflict here either. One thing that strikes me, however, is that employees who have understood agile and work in this spirit may also work in a traditional project. The reverse is not true. Agile work needs a lot of experience.

One article comes to mind which statistically proved it is a great advantage to have a classic elbow mentality if you want to get into (German) management. And the author believed that this evidence would sweep away the naïve dreams of New Work supporters.

Most people in the agile community are pretty skilled at assessing and dealing with such industry actors. Also, many can accept hybrid environments very well, because often the motivating force is to have a fulfilling workplace. As long as that’s there, it’s not a conflict.

I would love to see people on social media trying less to argue against each other. There is room for all concepts. Just pick and choose what suits you.

30 minutes with Heiko and me, to lateral entry, burn-out and interesting CVs

Heiko Link is a professional career consultant I met at 0525.1fallsreich in Paderborn. Our first conversation was about lateral entries, which turned into a solid half hour podcast to lateral entries, applicants with ruptures in their CV and mutual transparency in an beer garden. Most linked Resources are German language only.

I hope you like it:

Plenty of time is an underestimated power on the Internet

Today I am going to cry a little – oh no, change of mind – I rather offer some comfort. These days I started to play around with a security gadget, familiarized myself with the subject matter and today I had the first questions. I found a forum to discuss this new technology. Nice fit, so I quickly placed a question in the forum. Continue reading “Plenty of time is an underestimated power on the Internet”

Digital Natives, what the heck?

So today I want to get a little edgy about two events. The other day I read in a whitepaper about the new generation and their IT requirements, the term “Digital Immigrant” which the ” Generation X” doesn’t really understand everything about IT. For this group of people, the whitepaper had some warm words at hand.

I spoke to the business partner who proudly presented me with this work and told him: “You realize that you are insulting the current generation of IT managers? Because many of them grew up from Generation X and also with IT.

It was similar but completely different when I was approached by a young lady who said that it must have been very difficult for me to become acquainted with modern means of communication such as e-mail [sic] in my senior years. For her, that’s a piece of cake e-mail, Instagram, Facebook, everything: in the end she’s “Digital Native”.

When she found out that I got my first e-mail address with the enrollment, that at that time there was already chat, internet and the WWW. She was also surprised that we had to submit digital homework exercises in computer science. In the further discussion it turned out that she has very little knowledge about IT besides being able to install and use apps.

I think using apps is a knowledge that even the most backward digital immigrant – if he only wants to – can catch up in a few days, because apps are designed for intuitive operation.

There are certainly “digital late entrants” or even “digital ignorers” in Generation X, but in the vast majority of cases this generation has been using IT for a very long time. Just like there are still “digital dummies” today that have no idea of what they are doing other than consuming.

I think the first Digital Natives are people like Tim Berners-Lee or Grace Hopper. I also think it would be nice if as many people as possible were interested in the backgrounds “What is the WWW?”, “How does a network work?”, “How does an app work?” or “How does the technology behind Facebook work? That helps a lot in the modern world to be able to form a solid opinion. This may also be part of the educational canon for Digital Democrats.

Requirements for IT systems for the Digital Natives generation are always requirements for better usability, consistency or interaction. Mostly exactly what all IT users want. Stop putting labels on people of any generation! We humans don’t fit sorted to labels. Thank you!