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The Cloud & The Pyramid: Variable & Virtual Organizational Models for the VUCA World

For all the handwringing before board meetings, answers have emerged that could bring peace of mind and real hope for those beleaguered by the task of achieving dramatic transformation in business results, not just nudges to lines and boxes in an organizational chart, or tiny bumps in profitability. Much to the consternation of proponents of self-organization and Agile transformation consultants around the world, the Fortune 500 C-Level executives and private equity corporate heads do not always have the option of completely flattening their organization by fiat or even slowly building consensus.So, are they dinosaurs destined for extinction? That is a question I've never heard uttered out loud in the boardroom. However, it is a question that plays on loop-track in the minds of senior management and executive leaders into the…
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Leveled Engagement: A New Mob Programming Pattern

Mob Programming can be an excellent way for teams to create high quality code and also facilitate for collaboration of teams. Mob Programming is done with the driver-navigator model. The Navigator dictates for the Driver what to type and the Driver executes the actions specified by the Navigator. In short, it’s much like going on a road trip with friend where you work together to arrive at the destination. However, keep in mind when mobbing the role rotates based on a timer. The key difference between mobbing and pairing is that it is more than 2 people. Although this may seem like a minor distinction it is not. The addition of an individual shifts the social dynamic of the interaction between team members. Group dynamics makes it easier to bring…
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Working at the Correct Level of Abstraction at the Right Time: All the Time.

Today I observed a mob of programmers self-organize into 3 concurrent levels of abstraction. They were developing a computer game.  If Whole Team Programming or Mob Working is a new phrase to you, the basics are here.Roles and Levels in MobbingAt the lowest level (1) of abstraction was the Driver. They operate the keyboard and mouse to manipulate the IDE, version control, and code base.  The least experienced developers went on a 3 way rotation in the Diver role. The next abstraction level up (2) was the Navigator & Researchers roles. Three more developers who had their own laptop computers, occupied these roles. They were switching between conversation, searching the web for code samples, design patterns, and the suite of test scripts. They were making code alterations and commenting with Teletype. …
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Governing Transparently

Have you ever seen an organization that lacks any semblance of focus, or prioritization at the program portfolio portfolio level, and cannot find any way to improve beyond operating in power politics wherein the highest ranking officer, or person with greatest social currency (aka. pecking order) calls all the shots with no real accountability for the final outcomes? I have.I also knew of no simple alternative governance models...until today. There's at least one. It's called the "Money Pile Game." I'm going to explain why this could be a boon for very serious Agile Executive Coaches, Intrapreneurs, and start-up founders everywhere looking for a simple, effective, and rapid governance model. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUV79U8RszQ&feature=youtu.be So, let's start picking MPG apart with Good Game Mechanics. (a construct established by Jane McGonigal in her book entiteld,…
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But Why Communitas?

Civilization seems so obsessed with individualism, personal performance, and distinctly partitioned acknowledgement with rewards these days. Why Community, and why now? Many are asking. There is an excellent source of answers from a book published as many as 27 years ago, as of the time of this writing. Multiple extractions from the same book follows:"Responsibility for the WholeThe freedoms in the first column of our chart - truth and rights, empowered teams, and freedom of enterprise - liberate the power of the individual and of teams and focus attention on the customers. These freedoms can themselves transform bureaucracy, but the transformation will be neither balanced nor complete. Other complementary forces and institutions are needed for people to connect, collaborate, and give each other community support - especially to get complex…
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Empowerment vs. Autonomy

There is much conversation in the Agile world and about the Agile world involving terms such as "Self-Management" and "Empowerment" and "Autonomy."  Agreeing to the definition of each of these terms, and making a distinction between what they signify or don't signify is vitally important to preventing the mistaken impression or misapplication of mandate, freedom, support, and guidance.  Or any mixture of the 4 concepts. Empowerment is a throttle of conveying decision-making authority to an individual or group who is closer to the work than the centralized, elevated tier in an organization which otherwise exclusively retains this decision-making authority. Autonomy is the state of holding all the decision-making authority for oneself, and inescapably owning all the effects of wielding or failing to wield that same totality of authority. I am…
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The Best Books In Life Are Free

Before Agile was actually named 'Agile' or described in any kind of coherent document, there were people doing research into social technology who wanted to uncover predictable ways to lower the drama that makes life less than great for everyone, at work, in school, or at home.   -Anywhere that interaction is bound to happen or be sabotaged by misunderstanding. The people I'm talking about are Jim and Michele McCarthy, and they compiled the very best learning into a book called "Software For Your Head." (Pay full-freight here if you want a paper copy.) And as if that wasn't enough, they made their book free to the world because social technology wants to be free. If you want to have a Great life, and accomplish Great things, then this is the…
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Only Adaptable Organizations Have A Shot At Becoming Agile

If you are an Organizational Design professional, a business executive, or agile coach/consultant that has been sitting on the fence about Open Space Agility or Prime/OS™ (both leverage Large Group Interventions or 'LGI's') for the last few years that it has been blowing every other Engagement Model or transformation platform out of the water (actually no others existed until about 1 year ago), then you may want to ask yourself if you are just a laggard. Being conscientious is one thing.  I always look before I leap.  But waiting until academics have gone several years beyond gathering the data, and publishing white papers about their findings for scientific peer review, ultimately culminating in the publication of mass-marketed books.... is an entirely a different matter.  Could you be waiting for your…
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The Growing Popularity of Leadership Scrum

I'm noticing quite frequently now  people from a broad variety of fields, especially agile transformation consultants, executive coaches and engagement model designers, are seeing success with Leadership Scrum as a highly effective approach to Business Agility.  Starting with the Product Team has not given us nearly the lasting benefits that starting from the top of the organization has.  I attribute this to the difference of impact that leaders who go first have on the rest of their organization. Authorization by example, is just more viable as a self-replicating vector (aka. 'meme') than directing people to "do-as-I-say, not-what-I-do."  People who are leading Exponential Organizations understand this phenomena instinctively, and they are taking very bold, decisive action toward behavior modification throughout their organization, starting with themselves. Expect to see many more presentations…
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Where “Meet Them Where They’re At” Meets “The Tyranny of Structurelessness”

In the agile community, there is a gradual, non-disruptive approach to agile transformation which is represented by the phrase, "Meet them where they're at."  This approach is in contrast to a more confrontational, disruptive approach to agile transformation, where there is a kind of monolithic, across-the-board "from this moment forward, and until further notice" sudden change to people's roles, flattening the hierarchy of the organizational structure, and drastic update to the processes and tools being used, which may bear absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to their predecessors.  The latter approach can add such a huge shock to the system that the company cannot continue to deliver its product or services to the market, and possibly go out of business as a result, theoretically.  I haven't seen such things happen yet, but…
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