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Organisational effectiveness

Factors of Top Performing Businesses

In order of biggest influence (biggest first):

  1. Luck.
  2. Graft a.k.a. criminality.
  3. Unethical practices.
  4. Rape of the planet.
  5. Friends in high places.
  6. Effective shared assumptions and beliefs.

Luck

Most entrepreneurs admit that their success is largely down to luck. Being in the right place at the right time, and so on.

Graft

Criminal enterprises such as Enron or Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities are widely known. Graft on relatively smaller scales is widespread as a business strategy or tactic.

Unethical practices

Unethical practices such as stealing from employees, explotation of employees or customers, rape of pension funds, unethical marketing practices, and so on are so widespread as to be common practice.

Rape of the planet

Many businesses inflate their profits through appropriation of natural resources (water, forests, carbon deposits, minerals, etc.).

Friends In high places

Favourable treatment by e.g. regulators or legislators can lead to increased profits, revenues, etc., if you know the right people from whom or via whom to secure such favours.

Effective shared assumptions and beliefs

Way down at the bottom of my list is actually running the business effectively. Little wonder then that all the other options listed here seem much more common as strategies for “success”.

Most of the options listed here reside more or less outside the control of the businesses in question. Luck is rarely in the control of the protagonists. Graft risks prosecution and sanctions such as jail. Unethical practices risk alienating customers. Rape of the planet risks alienating society, more than ever nowadays. Friends in high places relies on having such friends, and avoiding scrutiny of such relationships.

Only the last option in the list confers some degree of integrity. But then when did integrity ever count for much in business?

– Bob

#NoPlanning

I’ve lost count of the number of folks I’ve encountered that see planning as sacrosant, as gospel. I’ve also lost count of the number of occasions I’ve attempted to broach the subject with offers of e.g. dialogue and mutual exploration, only to be stonewalled.

In support of #NoPlanning, I offer the follow Ackoff quote:

“If you have the capacity for response to the unexpected, then you don’t have to plan for it. The important thing to do then is to continuously increase the capacity to respond to whatever occurs in the future.”

~ Russell Ackoff

I posit that #NoPlanning is the epiotome of business agility.

Would you be willing to talk about it?

– Bob

 

Waiting In The Wings

What’s going to the next big thing in terms of approaches to software delivery? And when might we expect the transition to that next big thing to become apparent?

“The future’s already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.”

~ William Gibson

The Days of Agile Are Numbered

We can argue about how much life the Agile approach to software delivery has left in it. What’s beyond dispute is that there will be something after Agile. And I propose it will  look much different from Agile. I find it inconceivable that Agile is so perfect that there’s no room for improvement. Even though – ironically, give the exhortations to “inspect and adapt” – many in the Agile supply chain don’t want to talk about it AT ALL. Why rock the boat and derail the gravy train?

Customers and users, however, are waking up to the inadequacies of presently lauded approaches. And current upheavals in organisations, such as remote working and the scramble for talent, are accelerating these folks’ dissatisfaction.

Holding You Back

What’s prolonging the transition towards any new approach? Basically, it’s the prospect of the serious pain that comes with the adoption of effective new approaches. SAFe’s transient popularity illustrates how many organisations prefer an ineffective approach, with the illusion of change, rather than an effective approach that actually brings benefits. Any significant uplift in software delivery and product development performance implies a much different approach to running technology organisations, including, not least, different styles of management.

Your View?

What’s your view? What promising new approach(es) do you see waiting in the wings? And if there’s nothing with a recognisable name or label, what characteristics will a new approach have to have to boost it into consideration?

– Bob

Highlight Problems, Avoid Solutions

It’s wayyy easier to provide solutions than to help folks find their own solutions. What are the consequences of this observation?

  • For consultants, trainers, pseudo-coaches and others whose income depends on selling “solutions”?
  • For folks seeking long-term, permanent solutions to their problems?
  • For folks who choose to hire consultants or other experts to solve their problems for them?
  • For folks habituated to delegating the finding of solutions to their problems to others?

Voltaire asks us a rhetorical question:

“Is there anyone so wise as to learn by the experience of others?”

~ Voltaire

I’ll not be offering any solutions to this conundrum. I am available help you along the path of finding your own.Do get in touch!

#IANAC (I am not a consultant).

– Bob

Further Reading

Rother, M. (2010). Toyota Kata: Managing People For Continuous Improvement And Superior Results. Mcgraw-Hill.
Marshall, R.W. (2021). Memeology: Surfacing And Reflecting On The Organisation’s Collective Assumptions And Beliefs. [online] leanpub.com. Falling Blossoms (LeanPub). Available at: https://leanpub.com/memeology/ [Accessed 16 Jun 2022].

This is my DeLonghi four slice toaster. It’s been doing sterling service in my kitchen for the past seven years. If you’re looking for a toaster, you could do a lot worse.

Only last week I (finally!) discovered the “bagel” button. Which turns off one element in each slot so as to toast only one side of a bagel, burger bun, etc.

What’s this anything to do with employees?

It strikes me we often treat employees like I have treaded my toaster. We overlook some of the things they can do, really useful things, through familiarity and/or lack of attention. Their talents in some areas go begging because we’re habituated to seeing them in only one light. We succumb to the functional fixedness bias (not limited to objects, methinks).

Aside: FWIW I’ve never used the “defrost” or “reheat” buttons either. I guess my toaster is currently quietly looking for a new, more appreciative boss.

Coding

After all these years, I still love coding (as in writing software).

It’s just that it’s tainted by the certainty that there’s so many other more effective ways of adding value and meeting folks’ needs.

Spending time coding feels so… self-indulgent.

Particular structures for communities and groups are pretty much irrelevant. For example, teams.

It’s the relationships within communities or groups that matter.

Although, certain kinds of structure are more friendly towards enabling relationships to emerge and grow.

There Are Better Ways

There are better ways to develop and deliver software. Better than the prevailing ways of approaching such things. How much better? IME – and substantiated by data from i.e. ISBSG – from twice as good through to at least five times as good.

How to access these better ways?

  1. Recognise that software development and delivery is a subset of Collaborative Knowledge Work (CKW).
  2. Understand that CKW requires a fundamentally different approach vs. the kinds of work most organisations recognise as “work”.
  3. Realign the collective assumptions and beliefs of your organisation to enable effective CKW.
  4. Recognise that 95% of improvements will necessitate changes well outside the software development/delivery “silo”.

– Bob

 

Almost everybody complains about the inanities and insanities of organisational life. The inanities and insanities of their organisation. And yet, nobody seems to want to do anything about it.

Where do these inanities and insanities come from? What are the causes? If we can understand the causes, perhaps we CAN do something about them?

This is an underlying premise of Organisational Psychotherapy. OP posits the cause to be the collective assumptions and beliefs of the organisation. And the remedy? Surfacing those assumptions and beliefs and providing everyone, collectively, with opportunites to reflect on them.

Are you piqued by your organisation’s inanities and insanities? How do they detract from your aims, ambitions and success? Would you be interesting in looking into a remedy?

Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3

Reasons to be cheerful, Pt. 3

Some of you dear readers may, entirely reasonably, assume that I mention my books in the hope of increasing sales. However, this just ain’t so.

I mention my books in a vainglorious attempt to effect some positive shift in the world of business. I’ve written many times about my motivation. Specifically, my delight in helping people have a more joyful time in the world of work (in particular, Collaborative Knowledge Work).

I truly believe that Organisational Psychotherapy is a path to saner, more joyful, more humane workplaces. And my book “Quintessence” illustrates and maps out what a saner, more joyful organisation looks like and works like, in detail.

Maybe you share my enthusiasm for change, and for seeing things improve. Maybe you’re content with – or at least resigned to – the status quo.

In any case, I’d hate for my enthusiasm to be a source of frustration or angst for you.

On the other hand, I’d be delighted if through reading one or more of my books – or even blog posts or white papers – you might find a different perspective on what ails you, and new, more effective ways to meet folks’ needs, including your own.

– Bob

cheerful_lyrics

Further Reading

Marshall, R.W. (2021). Quintessence: An Acme for Software Development Organisations. [online] leanpub.com. Falling Blossoms (LeanPub). Available at: https://leanpub.com/quintessence/ [Accessed 16 Jun 2022].
Marshall, R.W. (2021). Memeology: Surfacing And Reflecting On The Organisation’s Collective Assumptions And Beliefs. [online] leanpub.com. Falling Blossoms (LeanPub). Available at: https://leanpub.com/memeology/ [Accessed 16 Jun 2022].
Marshall, R.W. (2018). Hearts over Diamonds: Serving Business and Society Through Organisational Psychotherapy. [online] leanpub.comFalling Blossoms (LeanPub). Available at: https://leanpub.com/heartsoverdiamonds/ [Accessed 16 Jun 2022].
Marshall, R.W. (2021). Organisational Psychotherapy Bundle 1. [online] Leanpub. Available at: https://leanpub.com/b/organisationalpsychotherapybundle1 [Accessed 16 Jun. 2022].
http://www.youtube.com. (n.d.). Ian Dury and The Blockheads – Reasons To Be Cheerful, Pt. 3 (Official Lyrics Video). [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1injh4-n1jY&ab_channel=IanDury%26TheBlockheads [Accessed 16 Jun. 2022].

The Future Of Software Delivery

Are you curious about how software will get written and delivered in the future? When all the Agile malarkey has faded away?

About your career and what skills and abilities will be in demand in a few years’ time?

Take a look at my book “Quintessence“ for a detailed road map of what the future of software delivery looks like.

My book “Memeology” describes in detail how organisations can make this future theirs, starting today.

And “Hearts Over DIamonds” sets out the foundations for Organisational Psychotherapy – the core principles for our Quintessential future.

Or read the whole series, and get a deep understanding of the role of Organisational Psychotherapy in businesses of the future.

– Bob

Further Reading

Marshall, R.W. (2021). Quintessence: An Acme for Software Development Organisations. [online] leanpub.com. Falling Blossoms (LeanPub). Available at: https://leanpub.com/quintessence/ [Accessed 12 Jun 2022].
Marshall, R.W. (2021). Memeology: Surfacing And Reflecting On The Organisation’s Collective Assumptions And Beliefs. [online] leanpub.com. Falling Blossoms (LeanPub). Available at: https://leanpub.com/memeology/ [Accessed 12 Jun 2022].
Marshall, R.W. (2018). Hearts over Diamonds: Serving Business and Society Through Organisational Psychotherapy. [online] leanpub.comFalling Blossoms (LeanPub). Available at: https://leanpub.com/heartsoverdiamonds/ [Accessed 12 Jun 2022].

More On Sea Change

Do you need to see a Sea Change in the software industry, or does the status quo suit you and your needs just fine and dandy, thank you very much?

As the inventor of Agile software development circa 1994, I feel uniquely placed to suggest the need for such a sea change,and what that sea change might look like.

It’s all laid out in my most excellent book “Quintessence“, along with its companion volumes “Hearts Over Diamonds” and “Memeology“.

How often have you discussed the subject with your peers, friends, colleagues, higher-ups, etc.?

Without your active support and involvement, a sea change ain’t never likely to happen. Until then, status quo FTW.

– Bob

Further Reading

Marshall, R.W. (2021). Quintessence: An Acme for Software Development Organisations. [online] leanpub.com. Falling Blossoms (LeanPub). Available at: https://leanpub.com/quintessence/[Accessed 08 Jun 2022].
Marshall, R.W. (2021). Memeology: Surfacing And Reflecting On The Organisation’s Collective Assumptions And Beliefs. [online] leanpub.com. Falling Blossoms (LeanPub). Available at: https://leanpub.com/memeology/ [Accessed 08 Jun 2022].
Marshall, R.W. (2018). Hearts over Diamonds: Serving Business and Society Through Organisational Psychotherapy. [online] leanpub.comFalling Blossoms (LeanPub). Available at: https://leanpub.com/heartsovediamonds/ [Accessed08 Jun 2022].

Organisational Transformation Starts With Individual Transformation

Organisational transformation starts with the individual but as they change they can run into organisational barriers and resistance to change. Similarly if the organisation institutes changes without helping people change their own understanding and views those people resist the changes in the organisation.

~ Barbara Lawton

Deming emphasised that organisational tranformation and change must start with individuals changing their own personal assumptions and beliefs. And in doing so, these individuals will likely fall foul of the organisation’s collective assumptions and beliefs (the collective psyche).

What better argument could there be for the benefits of Organisational Psychotherapy?

And what better explanation for why it’s soooo hard?

– Bob

Further Reading

Marshall, R.W. (2018). Hearts over Diamonds: Serving Business and Society Through Organisational Psychotherapy. [online] leanpub.comFalling Blossoms (LeanPub). Available at: https://leanpub.com/heartsoverdiamonds/ [Accessed 08 Jun 2022].

Lawton, B. http://www.youtube.com. (n.d.). 1993-03 Leading The Transformation Process. [online] Available at: https://youtu.be/MKq_SA8QnYI [Accessed 8 Jun. 2022].

Curious About Organisational Psychotherapy?

Organisational Psychotherapy. That’s a strange term. One you’ve probably not come across before. And one you almost certainly don’t understand in any depth.

Why bother looking into it? Seems like a poor use of your time and attention?

You could be right.

UNLESS, you have some interest in or need for changing the culture of a team, group or organisation.

In this particular post I’m not going to dwell on culture change. You’ll know if its something relevant to you, and how well your current culture is serving your business objectives.

Organisational Psychoptherapy does seem relevant to a whole passel of organisations attempting:

  • Digital Transformations
  • Agile Adoptions
  • Lean initiatives
  • More humane workplaces
  • And the like

but who am I to say?

And if some kind of culture change does seem in some way relevant to you, then might Organisational Psychotherapy serve as a means to effect such change?

You can find some clues in my foundational book on Organisational Psychotherapy: “Hearts Over Diamonds“.

What other means are open to you to in your efforts to change culture?

– Bob

Further Reading

Marshall, R.W. (2018). Hearts over Diamonds: Serving Business and Society Through Organisational Psychotherapy. [online] leanpub.comFalling Blossoms (LeanPub). Available at: https://leanpub.com/heartsoverdiamonds/ [Accessed 25 May 2022].

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