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In Titanic’s Ballroom

Several so called agile transformations ultimately end with people dancing rock ‘n’ roll instead of a slow waltz in Titanic’s ballroom and some beautifully decorated deckchairs. And even if it’s sometimes at least the engine room where rock ‘n’ roll is danced, it neither changes the course nor it increases responsiveness and adaptability.

Source: Geek & Poke

After all, there is said to be the agile transformation that is started for good and just reasons, that doesn’t suffer from the birth defect of a promise of more efficiency and that actually is seen as a way to more adaptability in an ever faster and more complex environment and where agility is not only misinterpreted as a kind of concentrated feed so that employees row faster because the boss wants to go water skiing. In these already rare cases, there is legitimate hope at least at the beginning. To what extent this hope will be fulfilled or whether it will end up in scattered agile enclaves in an encrusted structure is a completely different question.

Organizations are implicitly optimized to avoid changing the status quo middle- and first-level manager and “specialist” positions & power structures.

Craig Larman. Hauptsatz Larman’s Law

Organisations are sluggish and especially the power structures within them show a strongly developed instinct for self-preservation. Culture follows structure and culture eats strategy for breakfast, as it is often attributed to Peter F. Drucker. Insofar the transformation stands or falls with the readiness to scrutinize structures, to break them up and to restructure the organization accordingly, i.e., less functionally divided, more customer-oriented, more aligned with the value stream, and ultimately more organized as a network rather than a pyramid. In other words, as long as the Titanic doesn’t become a fleet of speedboats, it will unfortunately remain just a little rock ‘n’ roll in the ballroom and beautifully decorated deckchairs. The iceberg isn’t impressed by either.

New: The Book on the Manifesto for Human(e) Leadership

On the occasion of the first anniversary I published a detailed version of the Manifesto for Human(e) Leadership on Leanpub. I am looking forward to feedback and impulses on the one hand and, of course, to broad dissemination on the other. Please spread the word!

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Filed under: Agile


Hi, I'm Marcus. I'm convinced that elephants can dance. Therefore, I accompany organizations on their way towards a more agile way of working. Since 2010 I regularly write about leadership, digitization, new work, agility, and much more in this blog. More about me.

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