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56912Re: [scrumdevelopment] larman's laws of organizational behavior

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  • Alan Dayley
    Jun 8, 2013
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      Nice, Craig.

      These laws seem very pragmatic from the point of view of a change agent, which is valuable, just incomplete.

      1. I think this one is true at the granularity of the specialist positions but not for the organization as a whole or for significant parts of it. For example, as a software engineer the organization expects me to always be a software engineer. However, I am one head count among many that will be shuffled, regrouped and reassigned according to strategic needs and higher management whims.

      2 and 3 are true in part because of 1 but there are other factors at play such as the historical mental models of the individuals, fear, expectations, etc.

      4. The "system" is much more than just the structure. And the official structure is often not the way work gets done or how decisions are made. Structure has a profound effect in all of this, true, but I have been in more than one company that the official structure was weak compared to the shadow structure of politics. Improving culture is like increasing team velocity in that it is a desired second-order effect that cannot be directly manipulated. Which is what John Seddon says.


      On Sat, Jun 8, 2013 at 9:51 AM, craig.larman <craig@...> wrote:

      this group might especially appreciate...

      ======== larman's laws of organizational behavior: 
      1. Organizations are implicitly optimized to avoid changing the status quo middle- and first-level manager and "specialist" positions & power structures
      2. As a corollary to (1), any change initiative will be reduced to overloading the new terminology to mean basically the same as status quo
      3. As a corollary to (1), any significant change initiative will be derided as "purist" and "needing customization for local concerns" -- which deflects from addressing weaknesses and manager/specialist status quo
      4. culture follows structure
      i.e., if you want to really change culture, you have to start with changing structure, because culture does not really change otherwise. and that's why deep systems of thought such as organizational learning are not very sticky or impactful by themselves, and why systems such as scrum (that have a strong focus on structural change at the start) tend to more quickly impact culture. i discovered that john seddon also observed this: "Attempting to change an organization's culture is a folly, it always fails. Peoples' behavior (the culture) is a product of the system; when you change the system peoples' behavior changes."


      you can also find them at:

      regards, craig
      co-author of:
      -Practices for Scaling Lean & Agile Development: Large, Multisite & Offshore Product Development with Large-Scale Scrum
      -Scaling Lean & Agile Development: Thinking and Organizational Tools for Large-Scale Scrum
      -Agile and Iterative Development: A Manager's Guide

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