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55179RE: [scrumdevelopment] team-based orgs/Valve software

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  • Jean Richardson
    Jun 2, 2012

      Yes, thanks, Michael for providing to me the other day the name of that South American company that starts with an “S” that I couldn’t remember.  I also have to concur with your post below, and it’s a fascinating state of affairs.  Some might be tempted to blame “management,” but, frankly, shifting the accountability and authority models in an organization cuts both ways.  I have run in to a number of cases where Team members do not want to step up to their part of the bargain, either.  We are deeply enculturated in the current paradigm, and accepting the burdens of true freedom of the sort intimated by Scrum is as shocking to most of us as  plunge in glacier melt.


      As you know, I’m doing a lot of research on this topic lately as I’m working with a couple of companies that are trying to step up to becoming team-based organizations, or at least more team-based than they are now. The examples I am aware of seem to disappear as I approach the details behind the story.  Among my sources, the point of view you portray below has come up repeatedly:  This will be a shift that takes a generation, even if all goes well.  Some sources point to two generations, which, I believe, is 50 years.


      And, yet, humans can be surprising.  The whole “tipping point” thing applies here.  Right now, we seem to see such a strong trend in top-down Scrum adoptions (which have their own problems) where previously Scrum was a counter-cultural movement.  But, still, the full reality of Scrum’s potential is often not realized.  We have to ask why that is.  The facts there seem to point to the notion that we are all—top to bottom in the organization—in this soup together, and mostly we stand around pointing fingers and turning up the heat on each other.  Our inability or unwillingness to all step up to the reality of things like cross-functional collaboration; dialogic thinking; double-loop learning; true accountability for quality; consequences as a learning tool; and personal mastery keep tripping us up. 


      There may be a surprising tipping point in the next few decades that will suddenly cause Scrum, or something very like it, to come into full bloom in organizations.  It’s not clear to me what will cause that, because current trends don’t seem to be a basis for forecasting that.  I still can’t get over the fact that the Scrum Alliance has moved its big annual conference to the Gaylord resort hotel format.  People who have worked their whole lives to be in positions of power and are rewarded with money and privilege as they work their way “up” can have a hard time stepping away from all that just because it’s the “right thing to do.”  Others who have handed over a lot of personal sovereignty as part of their employment agreement have similar issues to grapple with.  The learning from what has come to be called the new science isn’t spreading fast enough.  But when it finally does, that may be the thing that pushes us over the edge.  Maybe then we will all see our individual role in the collective pain even though it’s a jaw dropping problem to know where to begin remediating at the personal level and still have a life you want to live.  It’s been a strange journey for me, given that I was raised as and feel very comfortable with the notion of the destiny of the strong individual hacking aside the underbrush to cut a path to privilege and ascendancy which has been the definition of security as well as our right as masters of the universe.  ;)


      Time to go out and prune the roses.


      From: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com [mailto:scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Michael James
      Sent: Friday, June 01, 2012 9:45 PM
      To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [scrumdevelopment] team-based orgs/Valve software



      Yeah, Jean's aware of Semco, one that typically comes up, and we've certainly been hearing a lot about Valve's employee handbook lately.  I suspect the reason we hear the same examples over and over is that there really aren't many examples of large organizations fully embracing the philosophy Jean describes yet.  Some of the others we hear about as success stories from the consultant or author's perspective turn out to be mirages according to people working there, or their future performance.  I'm reluctant to name them here, but you can probably think of three or four examples.  


      Many Scrum implementations are so compromised they come nowhere near Scrum's actual definitions.  Other cases of actual Scrum in large organizations are small islands cordoned off from the larger org's legacy practices.


      If all the above are true, what would it mean?  Kent Beck wrote that it took 50 years for Lean Manufacturing to become common practice.  Are we 15 years into a 50-year adoption cycle?  Or are small organizations going to eat large organizations for lunch?





      On Jun 1, 2012, at 5:46 AM, Jesse Houwing wrote:



      I think the means she’s looking for other organisations that use a similar orgizational model, so flat, everybody can decide where and what to do etc.


      From our training material I remember Semco as an example company that used this model in hopes to avoid bankruptcy. They managed to do so. There’s even books about it.



      I expect there to be others as well.




      Sent from my Windows 8 PC


      From: Ram Srinivasan <vasan.ram@...>
      Sent: Friday, June 1, 2012 2:21:43 PM
      To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [scrumdevelopment] team-based orgs/Valve software





      Are you looking for the employee handbook ? If yes, you can find a link for that in Steve Denning's article




      On Wed, May 30, 2012 at 1:25 PM, Dave Rooney <daverooneyca@...> wrote:


      Not a case study per se, but Steve Denning wrote about Valve in his blog on Forbes back in April: http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2012/04/27/a-glimpse-at-a-workplace-of-the-future-valve/



      On 30 May 2012 12:23, Jean Richardson <jean@...> wrote:



      I have been doing research on team-based organizations trying to turn up enduring examples among mid- to large sized organizations.  There’s plenty of theoretical “how-to” out there.


      I expect some of you may be aware of the Valve employee handbook being posted on the web.  Has anyone actually talked to Valve?  I’ve seen postings on the web that indicate the handbook is “real,” but when I was finally able to find a phone number for the organization, I was only able to get to voice mail at the terminus of all the working options in their automated attendant (some options were circular).  I’m beginning to think this org is visionary, but quite small.  Is anyone aware of a case study on Valve?


      --- Jean



      Jean Richardson

      Azure Gate Consulting

      ~ Repatterning the Human Experience of Work



      (503) 788-8998















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