We live in times in which “many things have changed and change faster and faster”, as the time researcher Karl-Heinz Geißler so aptly put it. 2018 was an exciting year, and it passed very quickly. So it is high time for a big thank you to my readers and my companions analog and digital for the vibrant exchange and the inspiring discussion. And it is time for a brief review of this year’s topics, which more or less revolved around the two focal points of agility and agile transformation on the one hand and human – or better: humane – leadership on the other.
Genuine authority is not a question of rank, but of exemplary behavior, for leadership is based more on imitation than on subordination. We could save ourselves a lot of resistance, struggle and suffering in our daily life in organizations and families if we ourselves authentically represented the change we want to see in our environment. Only those who can lead themselves so sincerely can lead others through their example.
No matter what you might think of Scrum, the Scrum Guide beautifully describes three aspects of leadership in the context of agile product development. At the center of value creation is the development team, which works autonomously and self-organizing. As the “CEO” of the product, the Product Owner leads the product and thus gives the autonomy a common vision and direction. And finally there is the Scrum Master, who serves the people and helps the product owner, the development team and the rest of the organization to work together effectively. A traditional manager is not described there, because his different tasks are distributed among these roles.
Building on the success of the Oxygen project, where Google has been exploring the characteristics of good leadership, in 2012 they launched Project Aristotle, using the same data-driven methodology to unravel the mystery of effective teams. The name says it all, because Aristotle is known, among other things, for his saying that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. And at the same time this also describes the essence of the results of this investigation: a group of superstars does not necessarily become an effective team.
There are many good reasons to consider agility. For instance, you could believe in the largely untapped creativity, motivation and self-responsibility of employees. Or you could recognize that a plan-driven approach to tackle complex problems is less suitable than an empirical one. And, of course, you could have the desire to radically focus on customer value and optimize the value stream accordingly. However, if you prefer to stick to the old ways of thinking, you certainly should avoid these considerations. Instead book titles such as “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time” by Jeff Sutherland (a book worth reading and helpful by the way) lead to a fatal fallacy: Agile methods are sort of concentrated feed that will boost the performance of your employees.