It is easy to lose sight of the core ideology of Agile and the Creative Economy when you hear about myriad specific implementations of Agile.
Obviously there are big differences between, say, an individual Scrum team with its Product Owner and Scrummaster on the one hand, and Apple’s ecosystem of half a million App developers, delivering value to hundreds of millions of customers through a platform.
By having a platform, rather than an individual (the Product Owner), serving as a lens to the needs of the customer, Apple is able to achieve massive scale, with hundreds of thousands of developers devising every conceivable App to meet the infinitely variable needs of hundreds of millions of customers. As a result, each one of those hundreds of millions of customers has a product that is individually customized to meet his or her own special needs and wants. This is something that a bureaucracy couldn’t conceivably accomplish. Nor could a single Scrum team or set of Scrum teams achieve it either.
So a single Scrum team and the Apple platform are part of the same family.
Agile isn’t easy
“Agile is not for the faint at heart,” as one reader, John Mereness, commented on the first part of this article. “ The dollar losses (among other losses) for the first few attempts (which are likely to fall flat on their face) can be very high. I think nothing of hearing the horror stories of failed Agile implementation.
The stories come out of large organizations, and small as well, who really made the effort to ensure that Agile succeeded–and it failed nevertheless). That being said, if the companies/people are dedicated and persistent, they will get to the goal (and that goal far exceeds any losses/failures along the way). And, when they get that first successful project, it is the same as Alexander Graham Bell inventing the telephone or Thomas Edison turning on the first light bulb."
Nor should we be distracted by the fact that there is a lot of fake Agile around. As another reader wrote, there is often “a thin Agile veneer laid on top of traditional corporate hierarchy and politics." Often Agile can be "a bit of gold plating that makes the business feel self-important." In these cases, "companies are doing what they’ve always done; they’re just now calling it ‘Agile.’”
But when firms make it through the difficult transition period, and take the ideology to heart, and implement it on a consistent basis, not merely adding a veneer of words, then they get the kind of results that we see at Apple, Autodesk, Alibaba and elsewhere.
A paradigm shift in management
So managers need to recognize that they are dealing with a paradigm shift in the strict sense laid down by Thomas Kuhn involving basic shift in our understanding about how the world works. Of course, the phrase, “paradigm shift,” has been thrown around in management for such a long time that it has become something of a joke. That’s because the claimed paradigm shifts always turned out to be “more of the same.” Gurus cried wolf too often. But now it turns out that we have a real wolf on our doorstep.
Now we are dealing with a genuine paradigm shift. It’s different way of understanding how the world works. This insight can help us understand why the new way of managing in the Creative Economy is having problems getting accepted, despite its advantages.
Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1957) explained that paradigm shifts work in four phases :
Phase 1: “Normal science” proceeds, on agreed assumptions
Phase 2: Anomalies appear, and “fixes” are introduced but they don’t fully solve the anomalies.
Phase 3: Forward thinkers recognize need for fundamental change
Change is strongly resisted by the powers-that-be.
Long-standing attitudes, values, assumptions support the status quo
Phase 4: The new paradigm is generally accepted.
We are right in the middle of Phase 3 of a paradigm shift in management.
Forward thinkers in management now recognize need for fundamental change. But change is being strongly resisted by the powers-that-be and long-standing attitudes, values, assumptions support the status quo. We need to recognize that this is normal in Phase 3 of a paradigm shift.
read more via Forbes
Want to learn more about Scrum? : Introduction to Scrum and Scrumban free e-book