The Genius Organization

Is is possible to create a “genius team” using off-the-shelf Agile techniques like Kanban and Scrum? Can ANYONE create a genius team, assuming they and the team members are willing? Can McCarthy’s Core Protocols play a big role in the development of a Genius Organization? Is culture a gating factor in how organizations learn?

I think the answers are yes, yes, yes and yes.

The Genius Organization

The genius organization (aka a “learning organization”) is an organization that rapidly assimilates new knowledge. It rapidly converts tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge. It constructs and then consumes that knowledge, enterprise-wide, in pursuit of great results.

The genius organization:

  • Learns fast
  • Senses and responds at high speed and in super-rational fashion to change
  • Creates safe space for members to express what they want, think and feel
  • Works from principles and values, not practices.
  • Chooses practices that are informed by purpose, principles and values
  • Views differences as opportunities to learn and innovate
  • Views mistakes as learning opportunities
  • Values people over roles; does not view people as ‘resources’
  • Has an intentionally developed culture which is designed
  • Is in a state of Free Standing Agility
  • Almost automatically qualifies for WorldBlu certification


Agile Coaching

In my view Agile coaching has a huge and pivotal role to play here. We can either take the money of clients without imposing any standards on what they are requesting from us, or we can work in service to the building of an organization that can rapidly learn. And by learn I mean, learn after we exit the engagement. Learn to learn fast, without any external assistance.

Learn to be a Genius Organization. Agile coaches have a pivotal role to play in whether this outcome happens or not. At issue is what we are serving as we engage with client organizations around the world.

Kanban and Scrum

Kanban and Scrum are prefabricated plans and designs for teams that need some help creating and holding a set of shared understandings. Kanban and Scrum are simply entry points along the path to becoming a Genius Organization.

Discussions of one or the other being the ‘one true path’, discussions of which is ‘superior’ are at best immature and misguided. These social technologies help groups of people build substantial and shared mental models and the potential for a shared vision. That is the value of any Agile technique. Discussions of differences may be intellectually interesting but in the end miss the point: Agile is a gateway drug to a state of organizational bliss: the Genius Org.

A genius org can rapidly sense and rationally respond to opportunities. It has reached a state of Free Standing Agility. This requires an enormous amount of alignment on purpose and values across the entire organization.

A couple of my most progressive clients are very close to this ideal. In future posts, I plan to profile them.