What does Netflix have in common with a nuclear submarine? Although at first glance they couldn’t be more different, their exceptional leadership culture is very similar. Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, prides himself on making as few decisions as possible and preferably none at all for an entire quarter. And Captain David Marquet decided to stop giving orders on the nuclear submarine USS Santa Fe. Both rely on context instead of control and are very successful with it.
How can we become (more) agile? Many of my conversations begin with this question. So someone wants to work differently, wants to become agile or more agile. The expectation is mostly to be taught new and better methods to do their job in a better way. But this question of how to do agile almost always doesn’t go deep enough. That’s why I usually answer it with a few clarifying questions. Which problem should the desired agile methods actually solve? What do you want to achieve? Why do you want to work agile? And finally, what is the subject, the product, on which you want to work agile? But one after the other.
What on earth did Mark mean by that question? Why did he want to know what “assignment” T. had? After all, it was only supposed to be a small exchange of experiences. T. simply wanted to establish a network of like-minded people and regularly exchange ideas with colleagues who, like him, were no longer interested in heavyweight software development in the waterfall model. People who had already experienced the potential of agile software development here or elsewhere. Or just people who had understood the shortcomings of the previous approach in today’s fast-paced world. Fifteen years after the publication of the agile manifesto, a corporation might dare to do so. That’s what he wanted to talk about. And not about the legitimation of this idea by an official assignment from a higher authority.