I was moved recently by a post from Tobias Mayer entitled, Rethinking Transformation. In this post, Tobias is pretty tough on the agile community. He asserts that we really haven’t managed to move the ball in 20 odd years of agile agitating. Instead, we have blended into the status quo rather than effectively challenging it. It’s quite a damning indictment. I believe that in many important ways he is right.
Now I suppose one could let something like this get you down, but I felt differently: I was excited! Tobias highlighted where the boundaries of our success are. Those boundaries are closer than most would want to admit. He’s arguing that we haven’t gotten very far in 20 years. And beyond those boundaries lies the unknown: the edge of the known world. That unknown territory is full of many frightening challenges. These challenges are things we have never managed to deal with successfully. However, that’s also tremendously exciting. For all of the amazing work that we have done, it’s thrilling to know that much more awaits us. We’ve barely scratched the surface of this opportunity.
Is there any room left for a moon shot in agile? Or have we accomplished all that we reasonably can with the paltry methods we use? What would a moon-shot look like? A challenge so significant, so meaningful, so dramatic, that no one believes you can do it. Would it be a company that is so effective that it blows away the competition? Would it be employees so happy that they want to work there for the rest of their lives? Would it be a process that is so intimately customized to the organization that work flows effortlessly?
What does it look like? Is it Joy Inc.? Is it Google? Is it Semco? Is it a form of hybrid consulting that merges the distinction between the consultant and the client to the point where they are indistinguishable? Is it a spin-off organization designed from the ground up? Or a boot camp where you join the consultants and return to your company a year later, utterly transformed?
And perhaps that’s what it needs to be. A personal experience that is so powerfully transformative that people come out of it feeling changed forever. Do we create that environment ourselves and invite others into it? Perhaps…