Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I'm moving...

I realised I haven't updated this for years, mostly as I had a different (startup) blog which has been unintentionally deleted :/ I have therefore decided to move this blog merge it with my private blog at ihatelettuce.com

See you there!

Monday, October 22, 2012


Manipulators will usually assume manipulation. Why is this?

But first; what is a manipulator? I define a manipulator as someone that attempts to steer another's behavior by covert means - by limiting or filtering the information passed on. I see this as a destructive behavior that damages the organizational system; which relies on free flowing information in order to respond appropriately.

From time to time I have clashes with the manipulators in my organization. Sometimes this is about my wish for greater transparency - something manipulators greatly fear, as their methods do not work in such an environment. But more often than not this is instead because they assume I have a hidden agenda (as they do) and therefore imagine the worst kind of motives for my behavior.

I find this assumption that others must share one's own motivations fascinating - as I do not think in this way. The very first thing I do is try to model the motivations of those around me, based on long conversations and some observation. Doing this I have concluded that people have widely varying primary motivations. Some are primarily motivated by safety, some intellectual challenges, some want the best for the company and some only to advance their own career (these are usually the manipulators).

So why do manipulators assume that everyone else always had a hidden agenda? That innocent questions are an attempt to circumvent or challenge? And how is it that in almost every organization manipulators prosper at the expense of our efforts to achieve transparency?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Are corporations dead?

I recently watched again Clay Shirky's excellent presentation on cognitive surplus (which I strongly recommend you to watch).

After some days of absorbing the information in this presentation an idea, or question, has formed in my mind; are corporations dead? Is the age of corporations over? Perhaps groups of engaged individuals will, in the future, achieve more than large organizations ever can. Perhaps we are heading for a future of small companies and voluntary groups. Is large scale capitalism on the decline? Is the growth of Open Source the first indication of this shift?

What will the world look like without large corporations?

Why senior management will never "get" agile...

When I'm discussing "agile" or "management 3.0" etc with colleagues someone inevitably voices their frustration that, despite these ideas having been around for decades, senior managers still don't "get" agile values. And this apparent lack of understanding can indeed be extremely frustrating. However, I am of the opinion that it is somehow inevitable, and here's why...

Senior managers live in a hierarchy and as such they have "risen through the ranks" to get to their current position. Their world view is that they have achieved this higher status and larger salary due to their abilities and experience; that they are somehow in possession of some higher level or better quality of "talent". 

However, research tells us that this is not so. Agile and non-tayloristic management values are built on decades of evidence that it is team performance that is crucial, not individual performance. Team maturity models show us that the performance of teams increases with time (up to some limits). We have many maturity models but all have in common that mature teams out perform new ones. New research in collective or group intelligence gives us a hint as to why this is so. Group IQ seems dependent upon the average EQ of a group and the equality of the groups communication patterns. While I know of no research testing the relationship between these two I think it is reasonable to assume that mature teams are more open and vulnerable which will raise their internal EQ scores, and that they communicate more openly and equally. If I am correct these two effects will lead to an increase in Group IQ over time as the team matures, thus explaining the observed performance increase. It will also explain why problem teams (which in my experience almost inevitably suffer from communication problems) will inevitably perform poorly, regardless of the talented individuals in the teams.

So, how does this relate to senior managers? In order for them to understand and accept this view they must also come to understand that their own success is a product of the environments they were in as much as it is their own abilities. They must also accept that they are not necessarily especially talented. There are few individuals that can easily make this leap given that it involves them giving up their positive self image for a more complex explanation. Who wants to admit that they may not be as talented as they thought they were?

For this reason I believe that most of todays senior managers will not "convert" and will in fact struggle against the adoption of agile values within their workplace.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Short update

I haven't posted in a while - life has been getting in the way of blogging :P

I've needed all of my energy for a large change project at work and have had little time and/or energy to do any blogging. If it is any consolation my reading has also suffered. Which might also explain the lack of blog posts ;)

As if work wasn't enough we are also expecting a new addition to our family any day now which demands more of me as a father and a partner. As you might understand my focus right now is on my home life and so my blogging naturally suffers.

I am however working on a couple of new posts and will publish them just as soon as I find the time to finish them.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The democratisation of the workplace.

As I Tweeted just the other day:
We are looking at a movement for democratisation of the workplace that is no less significant than the industrial revolution.
I believe that many things we see around us and read about in the media are signs of a current shift in the nature of work and the workplace at least as significant as the Industrial Revolution.

I believe that the current democratisation of the workplace is one part of this. But what do I mean by democratisation? I mean that the organisational structures and the orgaisational processes that exist in companies are becoming less hierarchical and more collaborative. And I think this democratisation has emerged as a response to two main pressures:

1. The increased complexity of doing business.
Many research papers are now citing business leaders who believe that the complexity of doing business has risen substantially in recent years. Organisations must, in order to cope with this increased complexity, mirror the business situation and create newer and ever more complex organisational structures and processes. The old hierarchical models of organisations and processes are unable to adapt to this increased complexity and so new collaborative models are of necessity born.

2. The rise of collaboration through Online gaming & Social media.
Social media & online gaming have resulted in a generation of employees highly trained in collaboration and very aware that they are embedded in a network. This has given them an almost instinctive understanding of complexity and a mindset that sees hierarchies as highly inefficient problem solving structures. This network view also carries with it a dislike for Taylorist management where a manager is a) assumed to be more competent and know more than his/her subordinates; and b) possessing a theory x mindset and believes that work is somehow intrinsically negative and that employees must be coerced into working hard. These employees have experienced free collaboration and view it as a far superior way to solve problems and they view their work as, potentially at least, a set of problem solving exercises with the opportunity to learn and grow.

These two forces (along with the larger shift in the nature of work) will, I believe, result in entirely new collaborative structures in place of the organisational models we see doing business today. The borders between the organisation and the customer will be blurred, there will be collaboration in place of management, and many leadership functions we see today will be transformed into mere supporting services.

I call all of this the "democratisation of the workplace" and whether you like it or not, I believe, it will very soon be coming to an organisation near you.