I tweeted recently:

“The things organisations have to do to make software development successful are well known. And equally well known is the fact that organisations will absolutely not do these things.”

Here’s a table comparing some of the things we know are necessary for success, alongside the things organisations do instead.

Necessary for Success What Organisations Do Instead
Teamwork Heroic individualism
Primacy of people skills Primacy of tech skills
Self-organisation, self-management Managers managing the work and the workers
Systems view of the organisation Partition the organisation into discrete silos
Focus on the organisation/system as an integral whole Focus on each silo separately
Use systemic measures to steer by Use silo-local measures to steer by 
Relationships matter most (quality of the social dynamic) The code’s the thing (e.g. velocity)
Effectiveness (do the right things) Efficiency (do things right)
Zero defects (quality is free) (defect prevention) Testing and inspections
The workers own the way the work works Mandated processes and methods (management owns the way the work works)
Workers are generalists Workers are specialists 
Trust Rules, policies
Theory Y Theory X
Intrinsic motivation, discipline Extrinsic (imposed) motivation, discipline 
Everyone’s needs matter (everyone’s a customer and a supplier) Only the bosses’ needs matter (your boss is your only customer)
Explicit requirements, negotiated and renegotiated with each customer, just in time No explicit requirements, or Big Requirements Up Front
Incremental delivery against the needs of all the Folks That Matter™, short feedback loops  Big Bang delivery, some or all constituencies overlooked or ignored, long or no feedback loops
Kaikaku and kaizen, to serve business goals Kaizen only, by rote
No estimates, flexible schedules Estimates, fixed schedules
Smooth flow (a regular cadence of repeatably and predictably meeting folks’ needs) “Lumpy” or constipated flow 
Work is collaborative knowledge work Work is work
People bring their whole selves to work People limit themselves to their “work face”.

Do you have any more entries for this table? I’d love to hear from you.

– Bob

  1. Thoughtful post as always Bob, I agree and thanks for introducing me to the term Kaikaku it is something I have introduced and also practiced throughout my life, without realising their was a term to describe it.I watched a youtube recently https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1MHyyWsMeE the rise of superman, which explains what happens in the brain with the flood of many chemicals to it when we effectively step off straight into the unknown. Many extreme sportspeople will be aware of the phenomena but it is to my mind where the art of the possible transforms into the realisation of what we thought is impossible, that unpredictable breakthrough that transforms perception of how we percieve almost everything. The value of scrum that relates to having the courage to take on difficult work is I guess what incorporates this into some agile practices but as you put it what enterprises do is reject this approach because it is seen as risky but as any who have participated in the practice will attest the opposite is the outcome by taking on greater risk we are hyper aware of risk because our senses are on fire and thus greater risk leads to a safer environment, when we add to that a team that have each other backs that level of safety is magnified isn’t it ?

  2. Hans Lundberg said:

    I`d like to see transparency in the list. Agree on what is confidential the rest is open information.

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