A plea for change

From the Modern PM Blog
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Modern PM is a blog about modern project management in all its facets: classic, agile and hybrid. I will share my thoughts about the developments, trends, problems and challenges we face in our daily routine as project workers — and hopefully some solutions.

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Agility and why some organizations fail. A train of thought.

Some organizations are like a pond. And someday they are trying to install a circulation system into this pond with lots of effort and money. Because there has to be more movement in here. So they are asking external consultants to explain to them why this one circulation plant - and only this one - is the best and most awesome. And they are asking vendors to install the machine. And then they need those external consultants again to explain to them that the instructions should be followed exactly. Otherwise fire and sulfur. And we can't forget all those additional people that are hired to operate the machine. They have no experience whatsoever in running a circulating system, but they are young and dynamic and they know their stuff. Because they are millenials.

And then it is here, the big day. The circulation plant is put into operation. All the controls are turned on, the machine rumbles and spits smoke and is loud and eats loads of electricity. And the water in the pond is whirled and mixed up. And somehow the machine does not whirl as the organization has imagined. And somehow the machine coughs and sputters every now and then. Although they have followed the instructions so closely. So they call for more external consultants. And with those come the conversions on the machine. And then the circulation plant is thrown away and replaced by a new one - now really the best and most awesome one. At least that's what the external consultants are saying. And they have to know, they are building circulating systems in and out day in day out. So it's being rebuilt a bit more. And at some point, the circulation system is bigger than the pond and it is still coughing up smoke and is still eating electricity and millenials and is still making noise and is still whirling around the water in the pond wildly. And everyone is standing on the shore saying, "So much movement. Great!"

Only: if you come back a year later, the pond is still in the same place. And in five years. And in 30 years: the pond is still in the same place. And there, leaning on a tree on the shore, are a few shovels. And you just have to pick up those shovels and dig and then you would have a river. Without circulating system. Without a consultant. Without additional people. At no extra cost.

Then why do some organizations incorporate circulation equipment instead of shoveling? Why do they deceive themselves that the whirls in their pond are movement? Because these organizations are full of people who do not want to change a thing. People who have come to their positions because they do not change a thing. People who shape the culture of their organization with this attitude: Change is evil. These people are not stupid now. They notice that the carousel turns faster and faster. They feel the winds of change constantly changing directions. They know exactly what that means: disruption. And they know that only those who change are flourishing. That only those who live change are surviving. No big jumps planned for years. Small, constant steps. More kaizen, less kaikaku. More river, less pond.

But these people do not want change. Deep inside, everything is balking against it. Of course, they have been doing well for many years - often for decades - while avoiding change. That things would have gone even better with an open attitude? They know deep inside. That they do not exist because they deny change, but because coincidence meant well for them? They suspect deep inside. But still: better, we leave everything as it is. As it always has been. And so circulation systems are installed. And so external consultants live a fine life. And so people stand on the bank of a stagnant water and say, "Great! So much movement." Only they will not be getting anywhere.

Let us convert these people. Let's open their eyes. Let's take the shovels and dig. Let us be the river.

Posted on: May 11, 2019 12:11 PM | Permalink

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Good Post. Quite interesting points . Thanks for sharing it

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