© 2019 Software Development Experts

Was that you or was it just the lights flickering?

February 4, 2019

 

Your organization is faced with unprecedented disruptive forces in this new Digital era.  Enterprise IT is being placed under enormous pressure to improve performance to be able to meet the voracious demand for software services from The Business.  You have tried countless silver-bullet recipes cooked up by the so-called "thought leaders".  People on the floor are ever more wary about the next big thing the champions are evangelizing on the shop floor; just a little skeptical of what they call a sure thing for solving all the world's problems when it comes keeping pace and improving results.  You are tired, fatigued from all the false promises, slick consultancies and certification badges du jour.  All you want is to have your IT organization be capable of carrying out its mission with some resemblance of sanity and standard-of-care.  An honest days work for an honest days pay.  No more spin, no more catch-phrases, no more memes or methodology lobbyists, or unions in sheep’s clothing.  Everyone adds value; no one is left behind.  Loyalty is rewarded, as is calling bullshit.  Performance is reality - just like our bottom line. 

 

Then you notice a break in the pattern.  That mysterious project that launched last year; the one you heard was mission critical; that one that was shrouded in mystery and buzz; that one that had all the big wigs.  It's thriving.  Maybe not quite bet the business stuff, but there seems to be a sense of euphoria that surrounds it.  The business is delighted for once, imagine that.  Everyone wants a piece of the action.  Everyone is remarkably civil; not the typical fiefdom wars or land grabs between silo’d functional departments.  This one is different.  A kind of electricity is in the air.   Hell even the lights are starting to flicker.

 

Which leads you to ask a very simple and reasonable question - was that you or just the lights flickering?  

 

You vaguely recall a reference to something called "Scientific Management", where rightly or wrongly, firms long ago tried to understand cause and effect of their performance improvement ideas.  Some guy came up with this philosophy over 100 years ago.  What was his name again - oh yes, Taylor.  Although someone told you that "Taylor-ism" was bad.  Then there were those studies that resulted in the so-called Primary Observer Effect.  Where did all that fuss start - oh yes, Hawthorne Works - 1925.  All sorts of interesting organizational behaviors/dysfunctions emerged from that one; gamed metrics, social tribes, sweat-shop managers, false correlation. Dehumanizing of the workforce was soon to follow; then the backlash.  Everyone got in the game.  Quite the standoff is now the result.  Heck they even changed the acronym "HR" from "Human Relations" to "Human Resources".  The worst in human politics emerged and clouded what seemed to be a reasonable and straightforward principle.  Keep doing what works in practice so as to effectively compete in the marketplace - or be out of business by Christmas.  Discard what sucks instead of embracing inefficiencies to grow headcount and power.  Stop letting big consultancies sell you on massive big-batch ERP train-wrecks that serve as their cash cows.  Respect for our people instead of treating them as atomaton's.  Basically learn and avoid being myopic, biased, ignorant.  If I recall, isn't what those Scrummer's always espoused - the philosophy of Empiricism?

 

Only one problem - how the hell are we going to learn these patterns of effectiveness from our portfolio of around $4.2B in annual spend, delivered from over 15000 IT "resources", scattered across 15 locations on 4 continents?  Oh right, spreadsheets are our data warehouse of choice around here.  How much is it going to cost us to have that Scaled Consultancy for Agile in the Big (SCABs) on-board their multi-layered, enterprise-of-enterprise coaching mediator/therapists to facilitate our 5-level portfolio taxonomy wrapped in programs-of-programs using trilogies of epic story writing, following scrums of enterprise rugby tribe rituals?  They say we need one for every 3-4 projects; heck we will need to figure out where to sit all 500 of them.  They say they will be kicking around, rewriting the DNA of our investment trading culture, for 5 to 7 years.  Do they know it took us over 100 years to build that culture?  Not sure they understand complex derivatives, or have ever sat a day in "The Pit", but they say this new Selfless-Organizing Holacracy Agilista thingamabob is the best thing since sliced bread.

 

I wonder, is there another way?

 

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February 4, 2019

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