There’s this common pattern of behavior from some outspoken people in the Agile industry. And the consulting firms, of course.
And it’s all particularly subtle.
If goes like this:
1. A highly desirable ideal is identified. For example, “motivated individuals” or “flat hierarchy” or “self-organizing teams” or “self-management.”
2. Flowery language is be used to describe the ideal, and it’s wonderful effects on teams, on organizations, the virtue of it, etc.
3. Absolutely ZERO guidance is given in terms of how to actually achieve the objective in the real world.
In other words, there’s quite a lot of saying and not much guidance (if any!) on the actual doing.
If you are paying attention, you can see it in various quips from various outspoken consultants.
And it all sounds so good!
And then, there is zero discussion of:
4. How to achieve the ideal;
5. What specific impediments are in the way of the ideal, and how to remove them
From my point of view, it’s very good PR and a total non-starter to:
6. Extol a virtue,
7. Not name the impediments to that, and then
8. Offer absolutely nothing in terms of tactics to achieve the virtue.
Here’s an example:
Description of highly desirable virtue:
“Teams need to be able to do their own planning, make their own commitments, and organize their own work.”
Description of organizational impediments: none
Description of tactics for impediment removal: none
See what I mean?
And now, the summary question:
Question: Who are the Agile leaders that routinely offer all 3 pieces of the puzzle?
Here are the 3 pieces:
1. Description of the virtuous ideal,
2. Description of the typical impediments to that ideal, and
3. Specific guidance on how to remove those impediment(s).
Moral of story: (1) without (2) and (3) is just a platitude. It’s not actionable and as such, it’s not very valuable. It’s useless. It’s not actionable.
Because truth be told, we got the “why” and the “what.” Now we need some guidance on the “how.”
So here’s my guidance: “Just say no” to platitudes from Agile leaders.
When a virtuous ideal is described, ask them how to actually get there.
Demand a description of the common impediments, and then the specifics on how to eliminate them.
If you are growing weary of do-nothing platitudes and want genuine actionable guidance, you might want to investigate OpenSpace Agility. Because truth be told, it’s offers you the keys to success: all 3 pieces of the puzzle: the ideal, the impediments to the ideal, and how to remove them.
OpenSpace Agility (link)
The Agile Industrial Complex (link)
Saying One Thing Doing Another (link)