Adventures in Agile – Going To Abilene


I’d been reading aloud to my husband chapters from The Humane Workplace by my friend Amanda Sterling. In Collaborative Communities, she talks about the myth that an open plan office will make authentic, transparent communication and collaboration happen. She says that group think is also more likely to emerge when physical boundaries are removed, as the lack of boundaries encourages homogeneity because people are nervous about standing out as individuals.

I have seen this Abilene Paradox happen in new teams, old teams even. It can be confounding and not without irony when faced with this phenomenon in Agile teams – I personally find it the mother of agile anti-patterns to deal with.

Merely saying you want self management, self directed teams – does not make it magically happen even within the context of good and fertile systems and conditions.

So what is the Abilene Paradox? And why should we care?

The term was introduced by  Jerry B. Harvey in his 1974 article The Abilene Paradox: The Management of Agreement.

On a hot afternoon in a family is comfortably sitting on a porch, the father-in-law suggests they go to Abilene, a town about 90 km away for dinner. The wife agrees and the husband, despite not really wanting to agrees too and says, “Sounds good to me. I just hope your mother wants to go.” The mother-in-law says she wants to go as she hasn’t been tto Abilene in a long time.”

The drive is hot, dusty, and long. When they arrive at the cafeteria, the food is as bad as the drive. They arrive back home four hours later, exhausted.

One of them dishonestly says, “It was a great trip, wasn’t it?” The mother-in-law says she would rather have stayed home, but went along since the other three were so enthusiastic. The husband says, “I didn’t want to go I only went to satisfy the rest of you. The  wife says she went along to keep everyone happy.  The father-in-law then says that he only suggested it because he thought the others might be bored.

The group sits back, perplexed that they together decided to take a trip which none of them wanted. They each would have preferred to sit comfortably, but did not admit to it.

The phenomenon is explained by theories of social conformity and social influence which suggest human beings are often very averse to acting contrary to the trend of a group. It may occur when individuals experience action-anxiety — stress concerning the group expressing negative attitudes towards them if they do not go along.

This action-anxiety arises from what Harvey termed “negative fantasies” — unpleasant visualizations of what the group might say or do if individuals are honest about their opinions — when there is “real risk” of displeasure and negative consequences for not going along. The individual may experience “separation anxiety”, fearing exclusion from the group. 

Travel the road to Abilene and you’ll arrive at a place where deeply held, logical values fall victim to group dynamics. It’s a bumpy ride that can culminate in meaningless outcomes and blame, but you can skip the trip if you know how to read the signs….

Lack of Transparency

This can happen when members of a team exhibit different opinions in a group setting as opposed to one on one. If people are telling you one thing and then offering their true opinions in private, not wanting to speak up in a group setting – then its suggestive of group think. Especially where the right conditions exist, ie a social contract is in place, team self-management is being actively desired and true opinions are being encouraged.

People will often “go along to get along” if they have any doubt at all about what will happen if they present opposition.

Members Discouraged To Lead

When someone on the team offers constructive dissent or starts to lead – the homogeneity of the group can be threatened. Anyone sticking their head up over the precipice may be told they are trying to manage. In Agile teams you even hear cries of “command and control”. Leadership is not command and control. In healthy mature self-managing teams different members will come forth at different times and lead. Self-management does not mean consensual homogeneity

Members Don’t Hold Each Other Account

For fear of upsetting anyone in the group, the group often won’t hold each other to account for the work being done (or not done)  If no-one feels the freedom to point out that the work hasn’t been completed in a sprint or where the definition of done wasn’t achieved, then no one wants to take responsibility for them either.  Anyone then holding the team to account as a peer can be ostracized, no longer welcome in the clique.

Members Exhibit A Lack of Trust

Eventually this lack of transparency erodes trust. Team politics can emerge and cliques can form. I’ve seen a whole team form a clique which excluded the poor Product Owner. This is symptom of a low maturity team mistakenly viewing the Product Owner as manager and creating a “them and us” dynamic.


Look at the system that is enabling this anti pattern to exist, to thrive even. Change the system.

Make Room For Individuals

I use the Sail Boat, Wind and Anchor exercise (thanks to my “roomie” Kathleen Coulton Agile Coach, Trans America). You draw a boat on the board with sails on the sea. You draw the island as the Agile team destination and talk with the team about what will be their wind in the sails, and what the anchors weighing them down, you do this on stickies as an individual exercise which you then discuss as a team. Silent brainstorming is also another good technique. Or “round robins” where you collect on stickies everyone’s opinions.

Facilitate Don’t Manage Conflict         

Don’t seek to manage or smooth over conflict. Facilitate it, call it out in Retrospectives.  Help the team with practical tools like how to give impact feedback or the use of a Conflict Dynamics Model and how they will as a team agree to surface conflict.   Dealing successfully and openly with conflict can be most emancipatory for the team

Change the Language

Avoid language that plays to agreement in groups

Canvas each person’s opinion privately and then bring those views with you to the table rather than “is anyone opposed to this, because anyone slightly opposed won’t speak up. Don’t use rule by consensus where everyone must agree – I think that’s a common myth in Agile. Use data and transparency to make the best decisions

Educate That Agile Is Not A Free For All  – Its Leadership for All!

The team will have direction set and work within certain parameters but anyone can lead at any time. In an Agile environment, we are all expected to be leaders.  Anyone can trust and delegate, have a clear vision and communicate it to others.  Any team member can ask questions and solicit suggestions. Anyone can make a stand.

Agile is Simple But Hard!


Adventures in Agile – The One About The Queen With No Heart

  Queen of Hearts 2

Who’s been painting my roses red?


Who dares to taint

With vulgar paint

The royal flower bed?

For painting my roses red

Someone will lose his head.

Once upon a time there was a girl who was smart, who got things done. She was single minded in her pursuit of the results. She was focused. She seemed to have a perfect life and all the things she could ever want. But the higher up the corporate ladder she climbed, the more self-important she became and the lonelier and unhappier she was.

She was a brittle, one dimensional, self-centered monarch and nobody liked her. Like Lewis Carrolls character  from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that he pictured as a ‘blind fury’ she was quick to decree sentences at the slightest offense. She was the Queen of Hearts She was me some years ago – and she had no heart

I have been on my own road to Damascus. When Saul became the Apostle Paul, he said don’t be selfish, don’t try to impress others, be humble and think of others as better than yourself.

Paul was an Agile guy.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a leader and I love this example of the agile leadership heart set. Picture a rough country road leading through the wilderness to a river where a dozen soldiers are working hard to build a bridge with insufficient resources and manpower. It’s 1776 and the Revolutionary War is underway. An impressive looking man approaching on a fine stallion and asking the weary workers, “You don’t have enough men for the job, do you?” In reply, the lieutenant in charge states, “No, the men will need a lot more help if we are to finish the bridge on time.” “I see,” replies the man from his horse. “Why aren’t you helping the men?  I notice you’re just standing back watching them work.” “That, sir, is because I am an officer!” snaps the lieutenant. “I lead, I don’t do.” “Indeed,” says the mounted man. At this point he dismounts his horse, rolls up his sleeves and works under the hot sun with the men for hours. ‘Upon completion he remounts his horse and says to the lieutenant, “The next time you have too much work and not enough men, the next time you are too important or high ranking or proud to work, send for the commander-in chief and I will come again.” The distinguished man was General George Washington. The impression he left for servant leadership is timeless. And if you think of all the great inspirational leaders they are compassionate and selfless. They put the needs of the people who they serve ahead of themselves. Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Nelson Mandela…. They inspire you to follow Agile leadership is the ability to internally motivate people, through trust, to accomplish the teams higher purpose, goals and objectives.  The Agile leader is defined by security, integrity, selflessness, and compassion. As with command control, without these traits, followership is typically defined by necessity, external controls, or maybe fear, which only reduces the potential of both leader and follower. I am reminded of a function I went to a few years ago, I was excited because this was the first time I had ever been invited to an ‘executive’ event and the senior management team were going to be there.  After the speeches the executive huddled around in a closed circle only talking to each other, they dressed exactly the same and laughing at the same jokes, comparing sports cars and the best restaurants. They were much smaller than I thought they would be and I remember thinking – none of you are interested in people that work for you.   And I thought your not worthy of my followship. In Simon Sineks eloquent Why Leaders Eat Last he describes those leaders who aim to raise their own status simply so they can enjoy the perks themselves without fulfilling their responsibilities as leaders. While they may achieve alpha status and rise in the ranks, possess talents and strengths that could earmark them for alpha status, they only become leaders when they accept the responsibility to protect those in their care. Selfish and power hungry, intoxicated by the chemicals, they can forget that their responsibility as a leader is to their people. Sadly this describes many senior leadership teams in traditional organisations. The ‘people’ leader in such organisations stands out because this executive is liked by the people, and is often least popular with his or her peers. Leaders are the ones willing to look out for those to the left of them and those to the right of them. Life requires leadership. What is yours? What would your family and your team say about you? Perhaps the most important question is, what defines your character that communicates your value of people? The answer to that question is essential in your character and Agile leadership stand. It will determine the level of ‘motivated trust’ that people will give you in followership. As Oswald Sanders states: “True greatness, true leadership, is achieved not by reducing men to one’s service but in giving oneself in selfless service to them.”

Stepping Out Of The Dark – Into Agile

Frida-Fridakahlo-Endure-Muchmore-Wethinkwecan-Cats-Meow-Skulls-Goodnight-Quote- (1)

So tired of all the darkness in our lives
With no more angry words to say
Can come alive
Get into a car and drive
To the other side

Getting to the other side of Agile is hard and I wish we could get into a car and simply drive there.

I wrote this 6 months ago and talked about metaphors, Slow Boats to China. I look back and I think helping a team cross over to Agile is one of the hardest things you can do.

Early Success

Gartner talks about a Hype cycle in change projects. Initially there is high visibility and great expectations and excitement. You see energy, creativity and transparency and teaming. It feels like a high – your in a flow state.  The agile systems and practices help, the scrum process, daily stand-ups and the social contract all work in concert with one another provided you have as a key condition team members who are positive willing and committed.

You see early wins and everyone agrees it’s been a great success.

Focused on the right conditions, the freedom to decide the work is done, with no obvious roadblocks and with taciturn permission to get things done with a sense of urgency we should be set up right?

Right? Like No…

We expect to repeat those early wins over and over again but as we have reach the peak of inflated expectations and the team starts to learn what it really means to be transparent, what rigour and effort has to go into inspection and adaption – it can become confusing.

The upholding of the social contract and holding each other to account, can result in team members confronting deep mental models based on traditional thinking – it can be very uncomfortable. No one has asked this of them before and you will see people grappling, resisting or embracing this in their own way and time.

Productivity and throughput will stall as the team is still forming. Add new team members during the early stages of forming can add additional complexity particularly if they don’t have previous agile exposure. Maybe the second and third sprints were a bit of fail, maybe you didn’t work on the high value work, or you were coming to grips with the whole sprint planning process and backlog – all this playing out against a back drop a team forming and probably storming.

Still …we fondly remember that first sprint and expect seeing results like right now and when we don’t get them we might denounce the team, or even abandon our transformation efforts as a failure or talk about derailment. We think of the high we achieved and we yearn for the flow state. We keep chasing the dragon

Maybe the rest of the organisation isn’t agile and you’re an agile pocket. You work iteratively – biting off slices of the elephant that you need to transform – they work waterfall and expect to see large detailed plans. You show them the roadmap, how the backlog draws from the roadmap, the backlog is visible for everyone to see and you tell them what you’re working on in this Sprint. They’re still not comfortable maybe they’ll express they can’t understand the bigger picture, you show them the roadmap again, and the epics in the backlog – you give them a gaant chart. Their happy

In the early stages of adoption you’ll see the team naturally forming, ebbing and flowing and commonly there’s several storms, you might see the team break every single element of the social contract. This is where Agile frontloads every defect, hang up, insecurity and our true mental models are exposed. It’s in your face and you cannot hide. At this point you might see some natural self-selection as people decide Agile isn’t for them.

The coaching dynamic can change here too. Another much more experienced coach  told me the team he was working with, screwed up all the backlog items and chucked them in the bin. Try not to take this too personally.

Lyssa Adkins reminds us that we cannot coach anyone if their feet are pointed away from you and instead go where your wanted. Focus on those individuals in the team that do want it and are close to crossing over into the agile mind-set. You can build up this coalition of agilists and build the core strength of the team to help the others.

Getting to Agile Takes Time – It’s No Magic Instant Fix

Agile isn’t just a new process or methodology, but a completely different ideology –a different way of experiencing and being. Steve Denning says instead of an ideology of control with a focus on efficiency and predictability and detailed plans and internal focus, it’s an ideology of enablement, with a focus on self-organization, continuous improvement, an iterative approach. This takes time and practice.

Teams that may have early success can think they have mastered Shu (follow the rules) and move too quickly into Ha (break the rules). Things regress pretty quickly and spectacularly in this context and disillusion can set it

And a shift in ideology isn’t a little fix.

Having Clarity of Roles is Key

Scrum has three roles. The Scrum Master, The Team and The Product Owner. A self-managing team especially in the early stages of adoption doesn’t mean they are equipped to prioritise their own backlog. We underestimated the role of the PO to provide that clarity and delegating the role to a peer in the team, didn’t work either because in this case the delegated PO was also a team member which resulted on context switching and role confusion. Looking back a simple mistake based on traditional thinking. It’s been cool though to see one team member step up and really flourish as a new Scrum Master and understand this role is more than running a stand up.

Be Persistent

Starting Agile is hard, really hard. The first few sprints might fall flat but that does not mean it’s not working. Not repeating those early successes doesn’t mean its failed. You will cock up sprint planning and work on the wrong things, you will make mistakes and slip back into traditional thinking. But if you are dedicated and persistent, you will get to the goal (and that goal far exceeds any losses/failures along the way). Denning says when the team really lands a sprint and has break through results when they get that first successful project, it is the same as Alexander Graham Bell inventing the telephone or Thomas Edison turning on the first light bulb.”

Beware of Agile Imitations

I’ve seen a lot of thin Agile veneer laid on top of traditional corporate hierarchy and politics.” In these cases, organisations are doing what they’ve always done; they’re just now calling it ‘Agile.’” It fails to deliver and then Agile is blamed. This makes me sad and maybe a little mad

But when you as a team make it through the difficult transition period, rebuild trust take the ideology to heart, and implement it on a consistent basis, not merely adding a veneer of words, then you will get the kind of results that make the slow boat worth it.

Are young but getting old before our time
We’ll leave the T.V. and the radio behind
Don’t you wonder what we’ll find
Steppin’ out tonight

Adventures In Agile – The One About It Being Hard

broken wings

Agile is a culture

Its not a product or a set of processes, it’s a mind-set and Michael Sahota writes about this comprehensively in his survival guide to agile transformation. Scrum he says is designed to be disruptive and introduces new roles, the Product Owner, the Scrum Master and the Team.

For a leadership team in the early stages of Agile transformation, the introduction of new concepts such as transparency, trust and collaboration can be emancipatory and emotional.

For some the early stages of the agile mindset shift it can feel like a transcendental experience, for me at least I spent a good 12 months firmly in this space.

I’d written about this in earlier articles as a consciousness awakening, I found others of the same ilk, some found me.

I can spot the difference because those that have made the shift are just different from those who haven’t. Perhaps it’s the transparency and collaboration factor, they seem to have a different energy, vibe and presence.

Now I am in privileged and humbled to be able to help others through this journey, while I am still on this journey myself.

It’s been described as an emotional roller coaster and in the very early stages of our journey the team likened it to being in an amusement park or a circus.

It’s magical, mysterious and powerful and right now it’s hard.

I think we’re all  facing the day to day reality that we are trying to change ourselves, how we work, our mindset and still operate within a larger organisation who are not Agile and that we must now operate in a dual culture.

We have all in our own ways opened our minds and have wholeheartedly embraced the change, we are getting better at inspecting and adapting everything we do, and we are moving through that really uncomfortable place where we are trying, succeeding and sometimes failing on the way to our goal.

But this agile transformation isn’t about us as a leadership team.

It’s about whom we have been entrusted to lead. Simon Sinek so eloquently describes this when he talks about why leadership matters. He says leaders set the tone and when a leader makes the choice to put the safety (feeling safe and a sense of belonging) and lives of the people inside the organisation first, so that the people remain and feel safe and feel like they belong.

So we are beginning to ask our people to help us rebuild an ecosystem and mindset which previously saw them not being trusted completely to get the job done, and where we did not create an inclusive environment that fostered trust, courage or transparency.

We are at the first stages of learning about servant leadership and what it might mean and it’s a natural partner with agile.

If we are no longer managers of people than who are we, what value do we bring?

But this isn’t about us

It’s about our people

Take these broken wings

Take these broken wings

And learn to fly again, learn to live so free

When we hear the voices sing

The book of love will open up and let us in

Take these broken wings

Adventures in Agile – The One About Populist HR Writers


A couple of interesting events happened last week in our agile journey

One was about ownership and team self-management and this resulted in greater levels of trust and understanding between the Scrum team and the Service Owner (Rudi the General Manager). I’m going to write about this separately because this is still unfolding.

The other is tension created when one part of the organisation is agile and the way the rest of the organisation is managed. So this is top of mind for me and I’ve read a couple of really interesting articles.  As I am in an HR/Agile Coach hybrid role, it is the people practices that really stand out for me as requiring a different focus and upwards change leadership to align these.

These have been further reinforced in a twitter chat with David D’Souza and David Ulrich, where we had interesting debate and an Employment Today article on the future of HR, where you could see the contrasting views from traditional HR management thinkers, Chris Till, Rowan Tonkin – the new Richard Westney, Amanda Stirling and myself.

Steve Denning in his Forbes article “Why Managers Hate Agile” says the reality is that “management” and “Agile” are two different worlds. The world of “management” is vertical. Its mindset is vertical. Power trickles down. Big leaders appoint little leaders. Compensation correlates with rank. Tasks are assigned. Managers assess performance. Rules tightly circumscribe discretion.

“The purpose of this vertical world is self-evident: to make money for the shareholders… Its communications are top-down. Its values are efficiency and predictability.  The key to succeeding in this world is tight control. Its dynamic is conservative: to preserve the gains of the past”

This type of company has a hard time with innovation, they are being systemically disrupted by new players. And it’s economy—the Traditional Economy—is in decline.

In stark contrast the Agile world is horizontal. Denning talks about it spreading rapidly like a virus and has already established footholds in most of the tall vertical organizations. And the Agile mindset is horizontal, its purpose is to delight customers.

Making money is the result, not the goal of its activities.

Its focus is on continuous innovation. Its dynamic is enablement, rather than control. Its communications are horizontal collaborative conversations. We aspire to liberate the full talents and capacities of those doing the work.

“It is oriented to understanding and creating the future. It believes in banking, not necessarily banks. It believes in accommodation, not necessarily hotels. It believes in transport, not necessarily cars. It believes in health, not necessarily hospitals. It believes in education, not necessarily schools”.

And its economy—the Creative Economy—is thriving.

So its no wonder then that there would be tension in the way we are in the Agile world and the traditional way of management and traditional HR.

And both have little insight into what is Agile. That’s for software right? Nothing to do with management or HR right?


The roots of agile were established to solve for the problems of hierarchy. The premise is in hierarchy work is organized with individuals reporting to bosses who tell them what to do and control their work.

Firms with a vertical mindset at the top, like IBM, are struggling and organisations in the horizontal world of Agile, like Apple, Uber, Spotify, Zero, Vend, Zappos and Google, are busy growing and inventing the future.

Agile has got everything to do with HR

Because in this new way of how we work the basic dynamics are reversed. Denning talks about the key differences:

  • Instead of a vertical dynamic of hierarchical bureaucracy with people reporting to bosses, these organizations are operating horizontally with a focus on the customer.
  • Instead of a controlling principles the approach is one of self-management.
  • Instead of static linear plans, plans are iterative and continuously on the move.
  • Instead of a workplace that is dispiriting to staff, the workplace is interesting, even inspiring, because people have the autonomy to deliver their best.
  • Instead of the customer being absent, the customer is now central. The goal of the firm is to delight the customer.

HR needs to reinvent itself – right now it’s based on Management 1.0 dynamics and with this mindset you will make yourself and your organisation obsolete.

Agile HR concerns itself with the system that enables self-management, collaboration and cultivation and adjusts its people practices accordingly.

Agile HR has deep understanding of the systemic nature of organisations and has an agile mindset.

Agile HR challenges the dynamic of hierarchal bureaucracy and many approval steps, that in essence says we don’t trust our people to make the right decisions.

Populism – a political doctrine that appeals to the interests and conceptions (such as hopes and fears) of the general people, especially contrasting those interests with the interests of the elite




Adventures In Agile – The Mad Hatters Tea Party


I’ve read Joakim Sunden’s article on the role of Agile Coach at Spotify. This is a role I played in addition to HR Business Partner and Change Agent in the Agile Transformation at the contact centre.

The blend was unusual and it did give me the unique ability to change some of the approach to people practices, realign the cultural dimensions as well as implementing Agile practices and methods, but sometimes I felt I was the mad hatter at my own tea party.

This mix of coaching a leadership team towards Agile, driving organisational change, implementing Agile practices and methods and working to change mind-sets to Agile and HR meant I wore far too many hats.

In hindsight I should have better leveraged the people and resources that were there instead of trying to do it all myself. My biggest issue was being too black and white and too quickly attaching a label of whether someone was of an Agile mindset or not.

I was simply being protectionist – which isn’t collaborative or transparent. I wasn’t being completely Agile.

If someone offers you help – believe me its better for you to educate, coach and help them see the this better way of working. Let them be the judge.

Better for you, for them and for the people your serving.

Having worked as an change consultant for many years and HR practitioner, I was converted to Agile and did my scrum masters certification. Like Joakim I longed  for an opportunity backed by strong sponsorship for Agile and continuous improvement.

I knew agile could work just as well in a non technology function.

And it does!

Its not exactly the same as you’d find in software development but it has all of the elements of Agile and Scrum.

I remember writing about the challenge of trying to implement Agile when the rest of the organisation is not Agile. I’ve changed my views there too. Micheal (Doc H) from ACI Agile talks about this. If you’ve read Frederic Lalouxs Reinventing Organizations you’ll know about the color codes for each stage of an organisations evolution. Teal is where you might find Google or Zappos for example, most Fortune 500 are amber, some are green. And its quite possible to be amber with teal or green pockets.You’ve got to learn to give them want they want – if they want a GANT chart why not give it to them, it might serve as a backlog of sorts for you.

We have now implemented Agile as a new operating model for the  Customer Experience Contact Centre. While we started this journey last year with a concept called Network Judgement (team rather than individual working) it morphed into Agile and accelerate again recently to new deeper levels of systemic change across the people and coaching frameworks.

We’ve recently got Eduardo Nofuentes to help us who we have been talking to for some time and who also led the REA Agile implementation.

People in the contact centre get it, we don’t work with Scrum exactly as it says to in the book, we have adapted the approach in each team to fit the work and cadence of the team.

We are experimenting. The main objective is to uncover improved ways of collaborating and developing into high performing teams.

All the core principles and practices are still there ie stand ups, Kanban Boards, sprints, reviews and of course transparency, adaption and inspection.

The agile mind-set and adoption of Scrum has been spooky and I probably take it for granted now. Guide to Scrum can be seen on peoples desks, people are talking about sprints.

People are excited and energised

Its not been all plain sailing, this massive paradigm shift has brought about freedom and with that increased accountability.

I have personally felt like I have been on a roller coaster, other team members have described the same feeling some time ago.

It has been bizarre, rewarding, scary, exciting, frustrating and terrifying.

He aha te mea nui?
He tangata.
He tangata.
He tangata.

What is the most important thing?  It is people, it is people, it is people.

Adventures in Agile – The One About Courage

Alice 2

In my top drawer in my bedroom is an unopened black and white postcard; from time to time I reach in and look at the letters ‘Made in Aotearoa’ and put it back. This card will never be posted, for it symbolises great fortitude and courage.

I met Mathew one cold, wet afternoon. He was standing behind a small table outside Countdown, the type you can fold down and carry under your arm. It was winter and having left a senior role in technology to explore possibilities in HR, I was feeling despondent and isolated.

My idea of what HR could be (employee experience, agility) and recruiters idea of what it was (compliance, process) wasn’t meshing and I was doubting myself and my decision.

I watched Matthew despite the sleet, cheerfully greet people who didn’t acknowledge him, who averted their eyes, frowned and hurried on. It was as if he were invisible; I knew that feeling well; having worked my since I left Uni, and not having that daily routine, I was beginning to feel like an outsider and my heart ached for him.

I asked him what he was doing. He didn’t have to tell me (but he did) that he was no stranger to prison and gangs – the tear drop inked on his right cheek a giveaway. He had never learnt to read and write you see and was selling postcards to supplement his benefit so “I don’t do crime”. This was his job and day after day he stood there.

And what Mathew was doing was real courage and change. I felt ashamed

And then I got to thinking about some of the managerial behaviours I had seen constantly in previous lives at work (and yes me too).

You’ll be familiar with these; and the systems that support them, managers that focus on themselves and not others, their power bases, backing their peers and not their team when the going gets tough, treating their people as a means to an end – and not really caring about the people or their needs.

Scrape away at this and what you usually find is that people are concerned about:

  • Command control and/or patronizing management
  • Conformity
  • Poor information flows
  • Knowledge as power
  • Organizational silos and empire building

And this is Management 1.0

Steve Davies, in his article; Management 1.0, the Zero Hypotheses says the impact of this style and practice of management on organisations and employees are profound as they prevent the free flow of information, politicise decision making and repress dissent and diverse views.

We do commonly see  individuals in Management 2.0 which are the collaborative, people orientated behaviours trying hard but operating in a Management 1.0 ecosystem.

Having experienced this environment many times before my current role at Fisher & Paykel (and more about this fabulous company and its people later), having been immersed in collaboration via social media I now found the gap too wide.

In one such large but dispersed traditional corporate, in such hierarchy I felt like I’d landed on Mars and I could no longer function in Management 1.0 land.

I’m not the only one

Take the established and traditional organisation with Management 1.0 values and mash it up with a social media savy workforce with values (and expectations) centered on the democratization of information, non-political decision making, encouragement of dissent and the democratisation of innovation. What might you get?

The ones who are really entrenched will fiercely guard the status quo and you’ll see little of that crazy talk which is usually viewed as dissent and quickly divested of.  Those who are more embracing of change; you’ll see some tolerance of it and this will usually be in the digital space. And the other end of spectrum like Google and Spotify – that’s all you see.

And I think those traditional companies who won’t change will die. What they haven’t worked out is that their steadily falling share prices and loss of market position is due to a culture created by a Management 1.0 mindset in a world which has moved on to a fundamentally different proposition.

And I don’t think they even know it or can grasp it.

Because a new leadership paradigm is required in this world. And to change means you have to have courage to self reflect. You have to face yourself, turn yourself inside out

The significance of this cant be overemphasised. Steve Davies states this is more of a reinvention, a revolutionary mind-set shift is required.

“Looking at the various 2.0s through the lens of engagement across boundaries it is doubtful that reinvention is sufficient. Why? Because so much of the baggage associated with the concept of management, along with the organizational arrangements that support it, are a reflection of Management 1.0″

Work is about people, people are social beings, people need to feel engaged, be creative, innovative and productive not controlled and ‘managed’. I’ve talked about this before. It’s a simple premise but not one that’s been popular.

If all you have ever known is traditional management (and I’m not saying you are  Management 1.0!) dabbled in social collaboration platforms so haven’t experienced that deep mindset, but know inherently there has got to be a better way, how do you know what to change to?

How do you morph both professionally and personally into an agile leader – Management 3.0?

Right now this is where we are at with our agile journey. We have a shared mental model on what that agile transformation might feel like and we are all consciously working through our own previously held assumptions.

We are on a journey, we know roughly the destination, we don’t always know the route we’ll take because the path hasn’t been trodden before.

Scrum has already begun to change our concepts of team and what transparency means, it has also thrown the spotlight on our self-perception of our roles in relation to the team.

Several people outside of the team have commented on the extreme engagement they are observing.

And before my eyes I am seeing transformation on all levels; spades of managerial and personal courage from everyone including our GM,

When we think about great leaders – we often recall acts of courage. We all admire courage. Anyone who is doing what they are doing has got my respect and admiration

This is scary, but we go as a group and we leave no one behind.

In both Catholicism and Anglicanism, courage is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. In the eastern tradition the Tao Te Ching states that courage is derived from love (“ loving causes ability brave”) Courage (shauriya) also appear as the first of ten characteristics in the Hindu Manusmṛti,

Associations in popular culture between courage and masculinity has resulted in usages of synonymous terms such as “having balls“.

And so we begin our Adventures in Agile

To Sue, Wayne, Richard, Keith, Rudi, Christine, Melanie, Peter & Kelly – who have jumped down the rabbit hole – head first