You’d Have To Be Crazy

You’d Have To Be Crazy

You’d have to be crazy… to suggest to managers that management is a dysfunctional anachronism for knowledge work, and recommend other means to coordinate and direct the work.

You’d have to be insane… to disband the functional silos in your organisation and move to another organising principle, such as value streams.

You’d have to be mad to stop using projects as the container for development work, and adopt e.g. some kind of flow-based approach.

You’d have to be a lunatic… to embed organisational change in the processes of daily operations and business-as-usual.

You’d have to be cracked… to want to see a wildly successful business, with all the extra work, risk and upheaval that would entail.

You’d have to be a sandwich short of a picnic… to stop directing people and instead give them the support they need to direct and organise themselves.

You’d have to be psycho… to hire a psychotherapist to help improve the health of your organisation.

You’d have to be cuckoo… to trust your people to find their own, effective ways of making software and products.

You’d have to be barmy… to believe the science about people, collaboration and motivation, and implement policies based on that.

You’d have to be deranged… to want to know what’s really going on, to think about stuff and to use your brain.

You’d have to be unhinged… to run against the grain of the opinions and expectations of your peers and do things differently to the accepted norms.

In short, you’d have to be wacko to step out of line. And there’s the rub. So many pressures opposing positive change. So much danger for the reformer. So much safer to conform, keep quiet, and not rock the boat.

“And let it be noted that there is no more delicate matter to take in hand, nor more dangerous to conduct, nor more doubtful in its success, than to set up as a leader in the introduction of changes. For he who innovates will have for his enemies all those who are well off under the existing order of things, and only the lukewarm supporters in those who might be better off under the new.”

~ Niccolo Machiavelli

So, until the deranged win out, we continue to live and work in a world, and in organisations, already entirely bonkers.

– Bob

  1. Paul Beckford said:

    “So, until the deranged win out, we continue to live and work in a world, and in organisations, already entirely bonkers.”

    Accepting that you can’t reach into the brains of others and “re-wire” them isn’t the same as admitting defeat 🙂

    As individuals we still have lots of control… over ourselves.

    Mahatma Gandhi was a great exponent of taking control of our internal space in the hope that in time this will also have an impact on our external space too.

    “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

    I think this chimes with your non-violence theme. We can effect the world simply by how we choose to be. Of course this is fraught with difficult choices, and the pressure to conform and collude is huge.

    Even so, each day each of us still can make a small but important difference:

    “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”


  2. Paul Beckford said:

    On a practical tip, what I do is seek out like-minds. I have had several gigs now where I have worked within a team of like-minded individuals. A team for hire. This really works well for me. Usually the incumbent organisation isn’t like-minded at all 🙂 And usually they haven’t a clue of what they’ve let themselves in for 🙂 Yet we go in and do our thing within our own shielded bubble.

    It has made my experience of work much more tolerable over the last few years. Enjoyable even 🙂 And along the way we have influenced others. We make no grand claims about overnight, organisational transformation 🙂 In fact as a “foreign element”, we’ve been ejected from organisations several times 🙂

    We don’t see this as failure. We have given many reasons to stop and think; reconsidering what they thought was possible within their current context. As a consequence many have made the choice to seek out better choices for themselves. In a way we’ve created a meme of our own, which is spreading 🙂


  3. With all that opposing pressure, is change culturally feasible?
    Look at the limits of what is changeable, and decide if it’s worth it.

    I guess changing an organisation is harder than starting one.

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