Thursday, December 29, 2011

Toasting Management in #stoos? Anstossen or anstoosen?

In ten days or so, barring bad weather or last minute emergencies, some 22 thought leaders, idea farmers, managers, agilists, community leaders or otherwise interesting people will get together in Stoos to catalyze a change management. It turns out, Stoos is a pun in German, which I'd like to explain.

Stoos is the name of a community overlooking Schwyz and located at about 1'300m above sea level, with ski slopes up to about 1950m. In German, it is often referred to as 'der Stoos' (the Stoos) as if it were the name of mountain, but I don't think that is case.

I don't know why Franz Röösli chose this hotel. We wanted a ski location (in honor of the gathering which produced the Agile Manifesto being held at the Snowbird Lodge in Utah). It needed to have a conference room, be willing to block rooms for 20 people, and be reasonably easy to get to for international travelers. It was the only alternative he proposed, but it looked good, so here we are.

Stoos is very similar to another German word: 'stossen' which means 'to push'. A variation of stossen is anstossen (this would be a preposition in English, but in German its part of the verb). Anstossen has many interested meanings for our gathering:
  • to poke
  • to kick off (something)
  • to toast (or to drink to) something
So what will do in Stoos? We may poke management, but we want to change management, not bury it. Certainly we will start with a toast to tomorrow's management. Here's mine:

To common sense! May it displace the Pointy Haired Boss as the leading representative of management! #stoos #toastmgmt

How would you toast management in the 21st century?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Towards an 'Agile Manifesto' for Leadership at Stoos?

The Agile Manifesto has been the basis of a shared identity for software developers for over 10 years. A diverse group of people - the thought leaders of the 'lightweight project management' movement - got together it the Snowbird Lodge in Utah, identified some common beliefs, gave themselves a name, and (inadvertently?) started a movement. At Stoos, we want to catalyze a change for the better in management. What would an 'agile manifesto' for business look like?

As Steve Denning and I prepared the Radical Management Gathering in Zurich, we felt that future radical managers would want training and recognition -- they are doing something important! -- but didn't feel certifications was the right way to do.

The concept was simple: Recognized and Committed. A participant who attended the gathering and committed to the principles became a 'Recognized and Committed Radical Manager'. Recognition came from attending the gathering - there could be other ways to become 'Recognized' in the future - and committed meant that the individual had signed an affirmation of his/her belief in and commitment to the principles.

We toyed with the idea of formulating the principles as a 'Radical Management Manifesto' but decided that a 'me-too' manifesto wouldn't really help anyone. So although our text was inspired by the Agile Manifesto, they were 'just' principles and did not mimic the manifesto too closely:
The principles of Radical Management represent a process of ongoing discovery and include:
  • Goal: A shift from the goal of making money for shareholders (“shareholder capitalism”) to delighting customers through continuous innovation (“customer capitalism”). 
  • Role: A shift in the role of managers from controlling individuals to enabling self-organizing teams. 
  • Accountability: A shift in the way work is coordinated from bureaucracy to dynamic linking, in which those doing the work have a clear line of sight to those for whom the work is being done and can see the impact of what they do. 
  • Values: A shift from a preoccupation with efficiency to a broader set of values that will foster continuous innovation. 
  • Communications: A shift from top-down commands to horizontal, peer-to-peer, adult-to-adult communications. 
Radical managers espouse these principles and their supporting practices. They recognize that the principles are interlocking and need to be implemented in an integrated fashion.
Should we produce a manifesto at #Stoos? What are the alternatives? And what should we call ourselves? Unlike the lightweight methodologists, we don't even have a collective name for what we do (AFAIK). And if not a manifesto, what is something simple that everybody can understand which will make it clear what we're about?

More ideas on How To Start Global Managment Warming in #Stoos

The interest is great, and feedback equally so. Today feedback from:
  • Sigi Kaltenegger on whether a big gesture will be helpful
  • Scott C. Schuck on learning through visual experince
  • Gerhard Andrey on 'Kill you job title!'
  • Kurt Nielsen on managers as deep experts in planned economic behavior, on managers who see themselves as being 'above work', and on middle managers who are not interested in the customers
Sigi Kaltenegger (@sigikaltenecker) wrote:
I am still wondering if a big “revolutionary” or “radical” gesture is helpful in winning over managers. On the one hand, this gesture is perhaps too much of the same in terms of “heroic management”, where you are supposed to be the solution hero for every problem. On the other hand, remembering Maestro Senge´s “People don´t resist change. They resist being changed”, I doubt that a revolutionary approach shows appropriate respect to managers today.

As to the expected outcome of the Stoos Gathering, I would be happy to learn more about:
  • getting in touch with managers and helping them to start their own learning journeys (e.g. by clarifying what´s in it for them in the short-term as well as a long-term perspective);
  • starting with the change from where they are right now, appreciating that there are many things to build on and continue;
  • practical ways of building trust and fostering relationship, while addressing critical aspects of current management practices;
  • the essential combination of self-confidence and humility on the side of the potential helper (coach/consultant/you name it)

Scott C. Schuck wrote:
Nearly all remedies I've read rely, primarily, on logical, rational (Newtonian/linear) – largely the same approach that is inadequate in facing the impending chaos.In the "new" reality – Quantum processes – organic and interdependent which self-organize when under minimal constraint.

This is best learned through visceral experience. The path forms only when we walk along it.

The best exposition of this new view is Margaret Wheatley's "Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World".

Perhaps the best "fallback" approach is that of the "World Cafe'" It's sort of a 'structured path to openness", i.e., emergence. (David Issacs &Peter Senge endorse this process).

Good Luck!
Gerhard Andrey (@anderageru) wrote:
I had an issue: "Kill your job title!" ;)

At my company, this is always an issue and out in the real world I encounter some trully amazing jobs titles. ;-) Of course, sometimes these titles are justified, but often they are not really consistent with modern times or simply reflect the most traditional (aka encrusted) structures.

In our company, we don't really have a creative solution to the problem. But at least a pragmatic one. Since there is are no hierarchies are, you're in business development, software development, operations, administration, or even management. There is no Head Of This .. or CxO. In management, we call ourselves partners, which of course something indicating the ownership and still certain hierarchy reflects.

A real discussion about how job meaningful descriptions could defined without hierarchy  would very exciting. Because so much begins with naming...
Kurt Nielsen wrote:
Being a former CEO of a small IT-company, I often get involved in Executive discussions in Scandinavia as a consequence of my Scrum training and Coaching. I share the same frustration about why management as a profession is not moving. I do not have a final statement on the matter, the jury is still out. But here are some bullet points, that might serve you in your gathering as points of attack.
  1. The institutions that train also the new generations of managers, that is typically those with a combination financial and legal background, will in general not deal with this new radical management. I believe that the reason is quite simple, they have all been trained in complicated domain (not the complex as per Dave Snowden's definition), they are deep experts in planned economic behavior, I have often said that they have not discovered that the Berlin wall came down in 1989. It is a huge threat to their whole existence if things cannot be planned upfront. I tried to get into one of the universities here in Denmark through the former CEO of Bang & Olufsen, who lectures there. I knew him from my work with Bang & Olufsen. He said after a while, that it was a lost case. The faculty would not be able to make such a mental quantum leap. Things can be planned and budgeted, it is only a matter of getting you act together and do more analysis and control. So they believe they are in the complicated domain, when in fact the world is in the complex most of the time - very dangerous.
  2. The really scary thing is that it is also this sort of people we have elected as politicians, dabbling in resolving the financial crisis. Treating serious illness with chopped up wings of bats and cog-webs.
  3. I ran a training program in Scrum together with the Danish "Center for Management". During the debrief after the course, they were quite positive, but as one lady-boss noted "It is a bit operational, we normally don't get down to the level were work actually is done". I am not joking here or making it up. I suddenly realized that the people educated in management disciplines really believe they are above the work, that they are fundamentally doing something more lofty and intellectual than "work". It is deeply Tayloristic point of view. The elite creates the rules and frameworks for the common man, who is to dumb or lazy to figure anything out for himself. Then the door is open to the patronizing negligence, we often meet.
  4. That brings to the darkest side of the force. Many of students in my Scrum classes report the same issues of being unable to engage management in the prioritizing and taking responsibility for business value. As several have said "Management thinks it is great if we, the lower levels, learn to work more disciplined and produce more results. They have however no sympathy for the argument that the same rules apply up through the organization.
  5. I have often found that the main problem is with the middle managers, not the executives, they normally have a very clear view of creating value (if their company is worth anything). Middle management however often do not have what i think is called "a clear line-of-sight to the customer", hence their own power-circles look like the center of the universe to them. One chief of IT I had an encounter with, refused to do anything that would challenge his position as head of a cost-center. he did not want to take on responsibility for generating value, he just managed resources.
So I think that what you should focus on are the progressive CEO's and the media. I know a few aggressive ones that are not afraid of speaking up, and the story can easily be brought to roll in the media, if we have celebrity value. It can happen, I have just been involved in transforming a medical supply company, but there was a very decisive top man, who wanted this to happen.
Again, thank you for the feedback! We will be taking all the input to Stoos with us and create information radiators so these ideas can be shared with all participants.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

In Praise of Slack

One of the oldest questions in Scrum is, 'to how much work should a team commit each sprint?' The standard answer is, 'as much as the team thinks it can finish, no more, no less'.

A team I am coaching stumbled on to a different approach. They committed to somewhat less work than they were certain they could complete. In fact, they were done two days before the Sprint Review. Those two days were used for working on internal quality ("technical investments" to prevent future technical debt), a last minute feature requested by a manager, and building down some accumulated overtime (from the days before Scrum).

Although the last minute feature proved to be not such a good idea (the story wasn't "ready"), everyone was quite happy about the positive side effects of slack.

One of those pleasant side effects was that the question of how to deal with unfinished stories didn't come up!

Ideas on How to Start Global Management Warming in #stoos

Our call for help in preparation for the #Stoos Gathering has spurred much discussion throughout the web (see also here and here). Today feedback from
  • Andreas Schliep on role models
  • Don Reinertsen on not whining and why he gave up on his slide rule
  • Roman Pichler on Scrum Start-Ups
  • Tom Mellor on the role of Business Schools

Andreas Schliep (@andreasschliep) wrote simply:
"Managers need positive role models, role models who have taken a different, new way, and were successful with that approach."

Don Reinertsen (@DReinertsen) wrote (modestly):
"I am not sure that I can really contribute a lot to the event other than to encourage you push forward on the hard issues. Having been on both the sending and receiving side of "why can't management change," I'd offer two thoughts:
  1. It is convenient for us all to externalize the obstacles that are holding back change. I have found it easiest to both obtain and to give support when the party requesting support has already done everything in their own control first. Otherwise, it just seems like whining.
  2. I think it might be useful to examine the situations where management has changed quickly and decisively and what conditions were present when this happened. There are plenty of fast changes occurring, if we choose to observe them. When people tell me that ALL new technologies meet resistance to change, I tell them how quickly I exchanged my beloved slide rule for a calculator, and why."
And BTW he's right, I needed no convincing to give up a slide rule (or even an adding machine) for an HP-25!

Roman Pichler (@romanpichler) wrote:
"I believe that organizing an agile development effort as a start-up and growing a new agile organization around it offers the best chance of establishing the new way of working." 
See his thoughts on the Scrum Start-Up on his blog.

Tom Mellor (former Chairman of the Scrum Alliance) wrote on Linked in:
I hope you, Steve and the others explore ideas about how to transform the management education provided by colleges and universities. It seems to me that at the heart of current traditional management thought is a strongly embedded educational curriculum at the undergraduate and graduate levels that will continue to emphasize the traditional philosophies for a long time. MBA programs are especially aggregious about this and their cohort executive programs often promote group think about it.

When I am asked why more universities and colleges do not explore and promote modern, knowledge worker-based mangement philosophies and tenets, I simpy reply "Why should they? They are dependent upon sustaining the status quo." Couple that issue with the premise that many of the teaching professors have either never worked in the modern environment or have not worked in it for some time, then it is difficult to penetrate that fortress. I keep my eyes out for modern ideas in things like the Harvard Business Review, but I haven't seen much.

It will be quite difficult to change management cultures in organizations where most of the people in those positions are "classically trained" in management. I have limited experience with this, but the 8 years I have been trying to influence it in my company without much penetration is telling to me.

There must be a compelling, acceptable reason for management to transform. Steve puts forth some of these in his book, but convincing established management of their veracity has been like trying to [perform a non-trivial challenge].

Tom summed up the feeling of many people around the world when he wrote: "I will be very interested in hearing what comes out of this gathering. I do feel it is a noble endeavor and may spawn further work and discussion, which is needed. I wish I could attend. I wish you all the best."

I wish you could be here too! Thank you all of you for your feedback! I will ensure that this is prominently displayed during the gathering.

Do you have more ideas on how to encourage global management warming? Leave feedback here!

Friday, December 23, 2011

#Stoos Looking for a Simple Framework for Applying Radical Management

"Scrum has been so successful because it is a simple framework that is easy to teach and easy to follow. A framework for general management needs this same simplicity."
This morning, fellow Scrum coach and evangelist Mischa Ramseyer and I were brainstorming on how to accelerate the transformation of management for the #Stoos Gathering. Mischa's words echoed my own long held beliefs. We have seen Scrum succeed over and over, mostly in software development contexts. What are the deeper patterns that can be applied to all management situations and how can we distill them into an easy-to-teach, easy-to-apply framework?

What would be the characteristics of this framework?
  • It would be simple. The rituals can be followed easily.
  • It would be based on the same values and principles as Agile, Scrum and Kanban. In particular trust, transparency and respect.
  • It would focus on achieving customer delight.
  • It would ensure a clear line of sight from those doing the work to those customers or users benefiting from the work.
  • It would incorporate checks and balances, so that when the organization comes under pressure, the system can correct itself.
  • It would define cadences to ensure that all important activities are performed regularly.
  • It would ensure the impediments are visible and handled effectively.
  • It would be modifiable, scalable and enhanceable to fit a wide variety of situations.
We came up with two repeating cycles, an operational cycle and a strategic cycle. Each cycle represents a time frame; shorter time frames repeat within the cycle. During the cycle various rituals take place, e.g. planing or a functional review. The operational cycle covers the monthly-daily time frames while the strategic cycle extends from quarterly to weekly time frames.

In each cycle, the customer is portrayed in the middle, together with the teams doing the work, regardless of whether the customer is physically present, because producing positive outcomes for the customer is of key importance.

The operational cycle

The operational cycle is about getting work done and creating outcomes which customers will value. It consists of three set of rituals, monthly, weekly and daily. Each is represented as a circle. A team and their customers are at the center of this cycle.
  • Monthly - for planning and measuring outcomes and results (customer delight/NPS, functional review and operational retrospective) 
  • Weekly - for ensuring the culture and relationships are alive and well 
  • Daily - rituals for organization and encouraging teamwork, such as daily stand-ups, updating the information radiators.
Information radiators (such as Kanban or Scrum boards, Impediment lists, Happiness Index) should broadcast key information, e.g. pending work, work in progress, or staff and customer satisfaction.

The organization should measure and evaluate customer delight at regular intervals. We believe integrating this in to the monthly cycle both for operational and strategic cycles will often be appropriate, but this may be context specific.

We did not really define roles, but someone must be responsible for making impediments visible and escalating them should they not get resolved. To ensure no conflicts of interest and an effective flow of information, that person should not normally be the same person who brings work to the team or who represents more powerful institutions in the organization.

We also believe that a team-based approach is more effective than mere collections of individuals. Teams work together to achieve common goals, share information with each other, and compensate each other's weaknesses, so the whole is stronger than the sum of the individuals. This is especially true in leadership roles.

The strategic cycle

The strategic cycle is about making the company an effective place to get work done and to innovate for the customer.

The strategic cycle also consists of three sets of rituals, represented on circles over a somewhat longer timescale. Together with the management team, the company's customers are again at the center of this cycle.
  • Quarterly: Each quarter the company should improve: "from version 1.0 to v1.1." Planning & Review are focused on making the company more effective, more sustainable, better loved and generally better.
  • Monthly: Ensure optimal conditions for doing work and continuous improvement. Measure and react to essential feedback (e.g. NPS, Happiness Index, Financials, unsolved impediments)
  • Weekly - like in the operational cycle, ensuring the culture and relationships with the company are alive and well

The monthly cycle is where the strategic and operational cycles overlap. The information radiators, especially the stuck-impediments list, ensure that essential information is available for all who need to see it.

How do these cycles scale? The cycle diagram itself is intended as an information radiator. What does your company need to do to be successful? The planning and review meetings, artifacts and tools that we defined should provide the basis for an effective Plan-Do-Check-Act culture, but they may not be sufficient for a particular situation. So you can move rituals from one circle to another or add additional rituals as appropriate. You can also create longer or shorter time scales and define the relationships between them.

Looking for Resonance

What is your reaction to this approach? What resonates with you? What makes you think 'this will never work!' Beyond #stoos, I will be teaching a Radical Management course with Steve Denning and would like to integrate a simple approach to doing Radical Management into the course. What would you add? What would you take away?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Announcing Radical Management Training

Radical Management Training
Delighting The Customer Through Continuous Innovation

with Steve Denning and Peter Stevens

As a business leader, have you ever wondered what Steve Jobs did to turn an almost bankrupt computer company into a firm that transformed the world of retail, music, mobile phones and tablets?  Have you ever thought about what you can do to not to fall victim to the disruptive innovation that has killed so many companies?

What would your company be like if your customers loved your products and services? How would work be different if your staff were totally motivated and happy to come to work?  If turf battles, silo organizations and layers of management did not stifle the creativity you need to survive and thrive in the 21st century?

It's not a dream. Your company can be innovative, responsive and profitable (and a seriously fun place to work!). There are companies like that today. Maybe even parts of your organization are like that today. Your organization can be that ideal company in your mind: Innovative, Responsive, Profitable and Fun (seriously!).

In this 3-day interactive course, you learn and experience the values, principles and practices of Radical Management that are behind some of the most successful companies today. So you can apply them in your company the day you return to the office.

  • February 22-24, 2012 
  • April 18-20, 2012 
  • May 21-23, 2012

The 20 F Street Conference Center
20 F Street NW,
Washington DC 20001
Close to Union Station, shops and hotels.

For more information and registration:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Achieving Phase Change: Why is it so difficult to change management

In preparation for the #Stoos Gathering, we have been asking 'Why is it so difficult to change management? While we are not the first to ask the question, it has once again stimulated much discussion (@jurgen's blog, @steve's blog, or on the ScrumAlliance Linkedin group).

Back when the #Occupy movements were getting started, Steve Denning wrote, "What do the occupiers want? Phase Change."
People increasingly sense that things aren’t going to get better unless something big is done, some fundamental change is made in our financial structures. It won’t be small-time rejiggering—a tiny cut in this tax, a minor reduction in that program—that will get us out of this. Like Oliver Twist, they intuit—however incoherently and inarticulately—that we need a phase change, a change in which everything is different.

Phase changes follow patterns regardless of physical or social makeup. They entail a change from one level of order to another. Phase changes are everywhere in nature: from ice to water, from water to steam, from iron to magnet, from seed to flower, from birth to life.

What does it take to make a phase change happen? Energy. Lot's of energy. Let's look at what it takes to change ice into liquid water:

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia
It takes only 1 calorie to raise the temperature of 1 gram (= 1 milliliter) of water by 1 degree C, but it takes 80 calories to transform 1 gram of ice into one gram of liquid water, and the temperature is still 0C! If the water were liquid at 0C, those 80 calories would raise the temperature to 80C!

We have seen examples of social phase change, most recently the Arab Spring. Figuratively speaking, the temperature is still there very cold, and the societies may yet refreeze, but there is now movement in these societies.

And what of management? Most management structures are still pretty inflexible, pretty frozen. But every Scrum team or Kanban project is part of the thaw. Every radical manager is a source of energy, helping his/her company to warmer spring.

Help us catalyze a phase change at the #Stoos Gathering: when have you experienced phase change? What made it happen? And how can we apply that to transform management?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Talk to me

The first suggestion for improvement in my poll on Swiss Banks was poll on Customer Delight was quite simple: "I wish they would talk to me." This from a fairly well to do customer who was hit pretty hard while following the bank's investment advice.

A colleague of mine is an agile coach at one of the two largest banks. We were talking about the challenges faced by their CIO. In particular, he is rather constrained by the expectations of managers next to and below him in the hierarchy. I suggested the CIO should organize a collaborative work thru to break the ice and get things moving in the company. My colleague's response: "No can do! I can't reach him. I can't even send him an email."

It seems the CIO of this bank has a spam filter which prevents staff below a certain level from contacting him directly.   

Without communication, there is no movement, no change. Companies are frozen.

Are you managers available to talk to you? Or do they have spam filters preventing contact between themselves and those deemed worthy. If you could say one thing to your top management, what would it be?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

#stoos: Global Management Warming Starts in Switzerland

W. Edwards Deming wrote decades ago that bonuses are bad for business. But most managers around the world are still using them.

Peter F. Drucker said ages ago that knowledge workers cannot be subordinates of managers. But managers still treat their staff as subordinates.

Dan Pink spoke on TED about motivation: what science knows and business ignores. Research tells us again and again that performance appraisals don’t work. But many companies keep relying on them as their primary evaluation technique.

Why? Why is management frozen and inflexible? Why is management changing so slowly?

10 years ago, the Agile Manifesto ignited a world-wide revolution in software development. Granted, the agile movement is still a work-in-progress. But we have made a lot of progress!

However, it seems the Arctic Ocean will have melted before we see traditional management replaced with a more functional paradigm. The rate at which it happens now is certainly not the same rate as the adoption of Scrum and Kanban. And companies are dieing as a consequence.

Is it too slow? Yes!!

Can we heat it up? Well, let’s talk about that…

The Stoos Gathering

Steve Denning (@stevedenning), Jurgen Appelo (@jurgenappelo), Franz Röösli (@roeoesli), and Peter Stevens (@peterstev) are bringing together a group of 20 thought leaders from around the world in Agile, Lean and Business leadership. It will be a 2-day gathering in Stoos, Switzerland on January 6-7, 2012. Our goal is to discuss how to accelerate the transformation of management around the world.

“We are looking to energize organizations in ways that make them better for the organizations themselves, better for the people doing the work, better for those for whom the work is being done, and better for society as a whole. And we want to understand how we can speed it up!”

Ideas for improving organizations have been around for decades. And yet, very little has happened. Change in business management is happening at a glacier pace. Can we help accelerate the transformation of the way organizations are run? Can we heat things up? Is there something that everyone can subscribe to and that will energize the movement for global change?

Is that something a repeat of solutions past solution? Surely not! Will it build on experience from around the world? Most definitely! Can you be part of it? Absolutely!

Help us prepare!

We are looking for your thoughts on how to energize and catalyze a global movement for organizational transformation. We recognize that all thought leaders have their own brands and flavors of management, but at the same time we see all our efforts as part of something larger.

Something global.

Something warmer.

Can you help us?

Please give us your input, in less than 100 words, here on my blog, or on Steve’s blog, or on Jurgens's blog, or via email. We will make sure your information is prominently radiated during the discussions in Stoos. Help us to stimulate our brains and contribute to a positive outcome of the Stoos Gathering.

Let’s generate some global management warming!

Send us your input and follow #stoos to stay involved.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Poll: How do you feel about your Swiss Bank?

A central tenet of Radical Management is that the purpose of an organization is to delight its customers. If customer delight is the key to success in the 21st century, how are Swiss companies doing at delighting their customers?

We could apply this to any industry, so let's start with an industry which is a key importance to the Swiss economy: her banks. How are they doing? And what could they do to improve?

I have compiled a list of the most important banks for the people who actually live and work in Switzerland (including Postfinance, which is not actually a bank, but excluding most private banks who cater to an international clientele).

I wrote previously about using Fred Reichheld's Net Promoter Scores to evaluate customer delight. Let's apply that simple approach to the Swiss banks and see how they fare.

To the poll: How do you feel about your Swiss bank? Tell us what you think...

and be sure to tell your friends about this study.

I plan to publish results in February or so...