Real Agile

Mit Begeisterung Zeitfresser eliminieren
4. Mai 2018
Keine Angst vor Innovation
28. Mai 2018

This is my sto­ry and my ans­wer to the ques­ti­on what the core ingre­dients of a real agi­le orga­niz­a­ti­on are.

About 15 years ago I worked as a team lea­der in a huge cor­po­ra­ti­on. In tho­se days I won­de­red why most of my work was not cove­r­ed by the ERP sys­tem the com­pa­ny used to pro­du­ce its machi­nes. And from time to time I was humi­lia­ted by bos­ses tel­ling me to do things of which I thought they were stupid.

Back in tho­se days I star­ted my ana­ly­ti­cal work on orga­niz­a­tio­nal solu­ti­ons in a phy­si­cal envi­ron­ment when my task was to orga­ni­ze the com­ple­te logistics sys­tem of a pro­duc­tion site. I (suc­cess­ful­ly) fought our mul­ti­ple back­logs and read The Fifth Disci­pli­ne of Peter M. Sen­ge which intro­du­ced sys­tem thin­king to my life.

Later I chan­ged as the CFO to a machi­ne buil­ding com­pa­ny with a build to-order busi­ness model and found things even more chao­tic whenever a sur­pri­se or back­log occu­red. Some 9 years ago I came across Niels #Pflae­gings 12 Geset­ze which encou­ra­ged me to think bey­ond the well-known tay­lo­ris­tic approach. Later I met Woh­land, read Dru­cker and Gold­ratt and we imple­men­ted Cri­ti­cal Chain Pro­ject Manage­ment to end up with signi­fi­cant­ly lower cos­ts and lead-times.

Very com­for­ta­b­ly being the CFO allo­wed me to expe­ri­ment with all what I had read and heard. In tho­se days Niels‘ peach org­niz­a­ti­on model as well as self orga­niz­a­ti­on did not work for us for two reasons:

Ever­yo­ne in the orga­niz­a­ti­on as well as its share­hol­ders had been socia­li­sed in tay­lo­ris­tic cul­tures and the­re­fo­re con­ti­nued to behave accord­in­gly (I still con­si­der this the major obsta­cle to chan­ge an orga­niz­a­ti­on to an agi­le beta-style one). And the team mem­bers were afraid to take decisi­ons them­sel­ves as some of the tasks had the poten­ti­al to cau­se a dama­ge of 5 to 10 m€ to the com­pa­ny, which cau­sed tre­men­dous stress to most of them involved.

Today I know you need a real­ly agi­le orga­ni­sa­ti­on whenever you do some­thing for the first time or crea­te pro­ducts which are at least part­ly new. Key for being suc­cess­ful­ly agi­le then, is not self-organization its­elf, but:

1. The absence of a boss who knows ever­ything bet­ter and deci­des ever­ything just becau­se he is the boss. Which doesn’t mean not to have a boss at all or to lea­ve peop­le alo­ne with a coach and a bunch of expe­ri­ments. But having a boss who focus­ses on pro­vi­ding ori­en­ta­ti­on for all as well as help in case it is nee­ded. I call this a „fle­xi­ble regime“.

2. Repla­cing „push“- by „pull“-task-assignment which enters the poten­ti­al for indi­vi­du­al growth and moti­va­ti­on to the team. To make it work, social den­si­ty should be high and the­re­fo­re the team size small or its acti­vi­ties and pro­gress trans­pa­rent for all.

3. As the task volu­me is vola­ti­le whenever you do things for the first time, fle­xi­ble capa­ci­ties are requi­red. It’s the key to keep-up the work flow in such an envi­ron­ment. Fle­xi­bi­li­ty does encou­ra­ge peop­le to col­la­bo­ra­te and not to exclu­de tasks from their per­so­nal land­s­cape. And the­re­fo­re it pre­vents stocks of unsol­ved tasks to build up. It is fixed or limi­ted res­sour­ces which make peop­le behave autis­tic, mul­ti­task in case of per­so­nal over­load and bos­ses inter­vene to deci­de about #prio­ri­ties. Which will bring you strai­ght back to the „push“-world.

The result of the three will be a #realagi­le orga­niz­a­ti­on. Adi­tio­nal­ly you may take some or all of Niels‘ 700 flips but at the end the three will incre­a­se your pro­duc­ti­vi­ty by around 90 per­cent. Having achie­ved this you will meet very rela­xed CEOs who are hap­py their peop­le are get­ting along without them. Guaranteed.

Gar­da, 21st May 2018