The learning organization critique mentioned below is focused on a
conflict of interest between shareholders and developers. Shareholders
may use developers as a tool for profit. I think the critique is
flawed in several aspects. Ignoring the fact that developers are only
there to generate a product for profit and in the best companies they
are also shareholders, I think Scrum has some built in mechanisms that
counterbalance this apparent conflict of interest.
The original design for Scrum was to create a team environment that
improved the quality of life for developers and led to excellence in
the form of winning teams. In the most successful cases, the teams
generated more product and value than the organization and customers
could absorb, putting developers into a leading/driving position in
the corporation, rather than the traditional whipping post role.
In return for superlative performance, the deal with management is
that they must back off and change their style into a facilitative,
coaching, leadership style which further improves the quality of life
for the team. And they must allow the team to self manage and self
This fundamental dynamic, which the critique author does not fully
understand, is that management must change it's style or the teams
will not self-organize. It is impossible to get the business benefit
without doing the right thing. As the Japanese fully understand and
Toyota continually articulates, team performance is based on trust,
love, and commitment to making the world a better place. Lack of these
fundamentals undermines team performance and results in a second rate
The special sauce of Scrum is this inherent necessity for all parties
to give in order to get, and the continuous self-improvement process
that throws up impediments in the face of management and shareholders.
If shareholders or management insist on hierarchical behavior, they
automatically disrupt self-organization and kill the golden goose. In
today's world this results in quickly becoming the walking dead on the
way to road kill. Even outsourcing can't save them.
On 10/11/05, Mishkin Berteig <mishkin@...> wrote:
> A new regular contributor to the Agile Advice blog has written an
> excellent article regarding the "learning organization" that I think
> everyone who is coaching or facilitating agile should read:
> Basic summary: the current learning organization model has severe limits
> that may prevent agile from being fully and appropriately adopted and
> looking at this model from the perspective of adult education may
> suggest ways to improve agile adoption and success, while at the same
> time changing the definition of success.
> Given some of my recent experiences coaching, I find this particularly
> apropos. Many coaching and facilitating opportunities are foiled by a
> over-zealous focus on the bottom line. I recently was given the book
> "The Answer to How is Yes: Acting On What Matters" by Peter Block. In
> the book Block encourages the asking of the question "why?" and
> attempting to come up with deep answers. This is what agile ultimately
> encourages and what organizational learning tends to ignore due conflict
> of interest between shareholders/owners and employees.
> Warning: requires _thought_ ... and I may not be getting it right! :-)
> Mishkin Berteig
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