Saturday, September 7, 2013

Efficiency and agile


One thing my agile students frequently ask about is: "How agile can help my projects and organizations be more efficient?"

I usually respond this way:
One way agile gains efficiency is through promotion of and exploitation of trust.
Bureaucracy is generally a management tool to combat low trust. By counter point: in a high trust environment, little bureaucracy is needed and thus energy and resources are redirected at the project value-add.

Fair enough.

But what is it about agile that brings trust where trust is less apparent among the same practitioners immersed in a different methodology? In other words, what is the root cause that leads to the desired effect? We should be wary of simple correlation -- things moving together. We want causality -- this cause begets this effect.

It comes back to three ideas, which in the domain of public service are:
Duty, honor, country
But in the domain of business projects are:
 Duty, honor, commitment and accountability
In the former, if I sense your internalization of "duty, honor, country" I will trust you almost unconditionally. And, a trust broken under these conditions is almost never forgiven or forgotten.

The same goes for the business domain. And, here is where Agile comes in: it embraces and depends on personal commitment and accountability more so than other methodologies that are centered on command and control (see: bureaucracy). This embrace is the root of trust in the agile domain. Those who break this trust are invited out, and not invited back in.


Check out these books I've written in the library at Square Peg Consulting

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