Jamie Notter (@jamienotter) and Maddie Grant (@maddiegrant) graciously shared a review copy of When Millennials Take Over (WMTO) with me. As a champion of their Humanize: How People-Centric Organizations Succeed in a Social World, I was very intrigued by WMTO!
WMTO is rooted in the “perfect storm” of trends converging to generate a revolution in business, including the decline of traditional management, the social internet revolution, and the Millennial generation entering the workforce.
Based on researching companies with remarkably strong cultures and the Millennial generation’s approach to management, WMTO explores “four organizational capacities that we [Jamie and Maddie] think will prepare organizations to be successful, both today and into the future”: Digital, Clear, Fluid, and Fast.
Digital – Organizational Life that is Focused on the Customer
Digital is about perpetual and exponential improvement of all facets of organizational life using both the tools and the mindsets of the digital world.
The industrial model of management was, quite simply, analog — mechanical and linear, like a pocket watch where you can see and control how everything works together.
Digital in the Millennial era, on the other hand, has an unrelenting and disciplined focus on the customer or end user — including the employee.
Digital organizations grow faster and accomplish more by focusing on the user, both internally and externally.
The first organizational capacity, Digital, emphasizes Focus — with a shift from controlling how everything works together to focus on the customer.
Clear – Information and Knowledge Transparency for Decision Making
Clear is about an increased and more intelligent flow of information and knowledge that supports innovation and problem solving inside organizations.
The industrial model of management linked information with power, so it tended to hoard information at the top, sharing it in a very careful and controlled way.
Clear in the Millennial era is about leveraging strategic transparency in systems to enable better decision making.
Clear organizations make smarter decisions that generate better results.
The second organizational capacity, Clear, emphasizes Decision Making — with a shift from information as power to transparency for better decision making.
Fluid – Distributed Power for Effectiveness and Nimbleness
Fluid is about expanding and distributing power in a dynamic and flexible way.
The industrial model of management viewed power from the perspective of control and thus as a limited resource.
Fluid in the Millennial era is about systems that enable an integrated process of thinking, acting, and learning at all levels of the organization.
Fluid organizations serve customers more effectively and are more nimble in both strategy and execution.
The third organizational capacity, Fluid, emphasizes Power — with a shift from power as control to power as effectiveness and nimbleness in strategy and execution.
Fast – Action for Leaping Ahead of the Competition
Fast is about taking action at the precise moment when action is needed.
The industrial model of management focused on speed in terms of efficiency and productivity.
Fast in the Millennial era is about systems that can learn and adapt while still maintaining the efficiency and productivity of the previous era.
Fast organizations leap ahead of the competition by releasing control in a way that does not increase risk.
The fourth organizational capacity, Fast, emphasizes Action — with a shift from speed to releasing control.
Optimism is actually an over-arching capacity that is critical for succeeding in any kind of revolution.
Revolutions are never easy. If they were, we’d just call them change.
Without a base of optimism, revolutions fail.
We are ridiculously optimistic, in fact, about the future of business.
Fundamentally, Focus orients Decision Making and Action and Power fuels Decision Making and Action — furthermore, being more digital, clear, fluid, and fast will usher in a new era for leadership, management, and business.
Don’t miss the ridiculously optimistic future of business — When Millennials Take Over!
As Sir Francis Bacon explained:
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
Taleb’s Antifragility book (and concept) is indeed to be “chewed and digested . . . wholly, and with diligence and attention”!
Please see the following for background . . .
Antifragile, Flexibility, Robust, Resilience, Agility, and Fragile
The Emergence of the Antifragile Organization
The Triad: Fragile, Robust, and Antifragile
Antifragility: From Details to Nuances [LinkedIn]
Demystifying Antifragility: Beyond Agility Workshop
From Concept to Practice
On March 18th, 2015, a panel of practitioners — including the-wonderfully-talented Russ Miles (@russmiles, www.russmiles.com), the “Geek on a Harley”, of Simplicity Itself and I (@SAlhir) — will explore Antifragility, share experiences, and offer perspective on how to apply Antifragility through the following questions:
- How have you interpreted Taleb’s concept of Antifragility?
- How have you translated your interpretation into practice?
- What are the results and impacts of your efforts?
Employee Engagement and Market Innovation & Disruption
In his book “Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder”, Taleb introduced the concept of antifragility.
- First, Taleb distinguishes between the fragile, robust, and antifragile: “the fragile wants tranquility, the antifragile grows from disorder, and the robust doesn’t care too much.”
- Next, Taleb advances that “by grasping the mechanisms of antifragility we can build a systematic and broad guide to non-predictive decision making under uncertainty in business, politics, medicine, and life in general.”
Taleb also emphasizes that theory is fragile, phenomenology is robust, and heuristics & evidence-based phenomenology is antifragile!
As the world continues to become increasingly interconnected and interdependent, Black Swans — large-scale unpredictable and irregular events of massive consequence — are necessarily becoming more prominent!
As a result of the proliferation of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, non-predictive decision making is quintessential — and individuals, teams & groups, and organizations & enterprises are embracing the quest for greater antifragility to realize greater employee engagement and market innovation & disruption!
Agility and Antifragility
As Taleb suggests “Agile Schmagile” . . . if you’ve embraced any degree of agility, don’t miss this opportunity to go beyond agility and explore antifragility in practice.
While agility involves responding to change, antifragility involves gaining from disorder; and while agility emphasizes embracing change through inspecting and adapting, antifragility emphasizes embracing chaos through adapting and evolving!
The Significant, Theory from Practice, and the Secrets only Practice can Reveal
Albert Einstein emphasized the distinction between theory and practice . . .
W. Edwards Deming emphasized the importance of theory . . .
And Nassim Nicholas Taleb emphasizes:
For a theory is a very dangerous thing to have. And of course one can rigorously do science without it. What scientists call phenomenology is the observation of an empirical regularity without a visible theory for it. In the Triad, I put theories in the fragile category, phenomenology in the robust one. Theories are superfragile; they come and go, then come and go, then come and go again; phenomenologies stay, and I can’t believe people don’t realize that phenomenology is “robust” and usable, and theories, while overhyped, are unreliable for decision making — outside physics.
The key is that the significant can only be revealed through practice.
No, we don’t put theories into practice. We create theories out of practice.
It is just that things that are implemented tend to want to be born from practice, not theory.
There are secrets to our world that only practice can reveal, and no opinion or analysis will ever capture in full. This secret property is, of course, revealed through time, and, thankfully, only through time.
Join the panel/webinar as we explore the practice of Antifragility beyond the rhetoric!
Alex Yakyma‘s and Dean Leffingwell‘s PACIFIC EXPRESS is described as a “short story” of an “initial SAFe adoption” that focuses on the “courageous people that drive change” and offers a format to “see and feel the people and culture aspects of SAFe”.
Essentially, it hints or suggests that a Quickstart — including “preparation” to “work with teams to re-align them to a common process model,” plan a “first Program Increment” or “release planning session,” and an opportunity to “dig deeper into the advanced topics of how to operate at scale” — is a “transformation process” (emphasis added):
“My understanding is that the whole notion of the Train revolves around delivering visible, tangible value; and I think that’s exactly what we need,” said Stephanie [client in the story] getting us back on track. “Tell us what we need to do. What does the transformation process look like?”
“We call it a Quickstart,” I [Ryan, consultant, trainer and enterprise coach] said. “The primary action happens over the course of one week and is normally preceded by careful preparation and then some follow up. During that week, I will work with teams to re–‐align them to a common process model, that’s the first two days. Then, for the next two days, we will plan our first Program Increment: PI for short. Roughly speaking, you can think of it as a release planning session. And finally, the last day can be used for Product Owners and Scrum Masters to dig deeper into the advanced topics of how to operate at scale. The Quickstart is just a kick‐off for you guys, but should provide enough momentum to drive the transformation.”
The story starts with the “preparation”, which was quite minimized, both regarding actual duration and activities:
Tomorrow is a really big day — we start our two-day release planning session and much will depend on how that goes. The preparation took two weeks — a very busy two weeks — not an uncommon thing when a program initiates this process for the first time. And not everything went as smoothly as expected… as if it ever does at scale. [. . . agree on the cadence, frequent integration, organizational structure, program priorities, the remainder of the areas, etc.]
While the story focuses on Lean, Lean-Agile Leaders, and Leadership in Lean Software Development, it disappoints in suggesting or implying that a mere presentation of “What Do I Do as Lean-Agile Leader” (in the story) is enough to shift a culture from “managing to enabling teams”:
The principal force behind these dozens of bullet points is the switch from managing to enabling teams. And since enabling teams is what we are after, we naturally arrive at a gazillion aspects of the Leader role. As you shift your thinking and start looking for the bottlenecks that prevent the Train from fast delivery of value to the business, you arrive at more and more things like that. Take a look at these again…” I browsed through the presentation once again, pausing a few seconds on each slide. “Do you think teams can do any of these on their own?”
However, the story ultimately redeems itself somewhat by emphasizing that transformation is a journey and that a “quickstart” is not the whole journey (emphasis added):
Our initial sessions, including the PI planning, were not the transformation itself. There is a reason why it is called Quickstart. In fact, it is only the beginning of a learning journey that knows no end.
And the story further disappoints in not offering anything beyond itself regarding this “learning journey” and not exploring the distinction between Dynamics and Mechanics, for a more formidable and proven approach to transformation, see Scaling Agility with Conscious Agility & SAFe, DAD, LeSS, Agility Path, or ScrumPLoP as well as Constructively (rather than Destructively) Adopting and Sustaining the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe).
While I have been a longtime fan of Robert Greene‘s (@) work (Power, Seduction and War) — including, The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, The 50th Law (see The 50th Law “Fear Nothing” & Agility Distilled for more), and especially Mastery — I have found The Art of War (particularly, The Denma Translation) to be quintessentially more foundational to embracing human nature and offering a more “humane” perspective — furthermore, I’ve often referred to “The Art of War” as “The Art of Human Nature”!
As one explores and reflect on Robert Greene’s life journey through his work, his books seem to be converging more and more towards the integrated perspective offered by The Art of War versus the disintegrated aspects of power, seduction, and war!
Generally, Robert Greene’s Mastery is particularly potent! While the Laws of Power focuses more on individual power, the Art of Seduction focuses more on social seduction relative to power, and the Strategies of War focuses more on social strategies relative to power, Robert Greene’s Mastery focuses on ultimate power — Mastery.
There exists a form of power and intelligence that represents the high point of human potential. It is the source of the greatest achievements and discoveries in history. Let us call this sensation mastery — the feeling that we have a greater command of reality, other people, and ourselves. And at the root of this power is a simple process that leads to mastery — one that is accessible to all of us. In this process leading to this ultimate form of power, we can identify three distinct phases or levels. The first is the Apprenticeship; the second is the Creative-Active; the third, Mastery.
Greene’s elegant introduction of mastery as “the source of the greatest achievements and discoveries in history” and as the form of power that “represents the high point of human potential” that may be realized through a “simple process [Apprenticeship, Creative-Active, and Mastery phases] that leads to mastery” is absolutely brilliant!
In the first phase, we stand on the outside of our field, learning as much as we can of the basic elements and rules. We have only a partial picture of the field and so our powers are limited.
Chapter I of Mastery, Discovering Your Calling: The Life’s Task, offers strategies for finding your life’s task (“what you are meant to accomplish in the time that you have to live”).
In the second phase, through much practice and immersion, we see into the inside of the machinery, how things connect with one another, and thus gain a more comprehensive understanding of the subject. With this comes a new power — the ability to experiment and creatively play with the elements involved.
Chapter II of Mastery, Submit to Reality: The Ideal Apprenticeship, focuses on the three steps or modes of apprenticeship: Deep Observation, Skills Acquisition, and Experimentation.
Chapter III of Mastery, Absorb the Master’s Power: The Mentor Dynamic, offers strategies for deepening the mentoring relationship.
Chapter IV of Mastery, See People as They Are: Social Intelligence, focuses on specific knowledge (reading people) and general knowledge (the seven deadly realities).
Chapter V of Mastery, Awaken the Dimensional Mind: The Creative-Active, focuses on the creative process: Creative Task, Creative Strategies, and Creative Breakthrough (Tension and Insight).
In the third phase, our degree of knowledge, experience, and focus is so deep that we can now see the whole picture with complete clarity. We have access to the heart of life — to human nature and natural phenomena. That is why the artwork of Masters touches us to the core; the artist has captured something of the essence of reality. That is why the brilliant scientist can uncover a new law of physics, and the inventor or entrepreneur can hit upon something no one else has imagined.
Chapter VI of Mastery, Fuse the Intuitive With the Rational: Mastery, focuses on the roots of masterly intuition and the return to reality.
In many ways, the movement from one level of intelligence to another can be considered as a kind of ritual of transformation. As you progress, old ideas and perspectives die off; as new powers are unleashed, you are initiated into higher levels of seeing the world. Consider Mastery as an invaluable tool in guiding you though this transformative process. The structure of Mastery is simple. There are six chapters, moving sequentially through the process. Chapter 1 is the starting point — discovering your calling, your Life’s Task. Chapter 2, 3, and 4 discuss different elements of the Apprenticeship Phase (learning skills, working with mentors, acquiring social intelligence). Change 5 is devoted to the Creative-Active Phase, and chapter 6 to the ultimate goal — Mastery.
Greene’s elegant description of “the movement from one level of intelligence to another” as a “ritual of transformation” or “transformative process” where old ideas/perspective die and new powers are born is again absolutely brilliant!
Brad Barton (@Brad_Barton), Mark Ferraro (@mark4ro), and I (@SAlhir) have expressed this ritual or process via Conscious Agility (Conscious Capitalism + Business Agility = Antifragility), which includes a Define phase, Create phase, and Refine phase involving an ecosystem of stakeholders whose identity, including their awareness and ownership, evolves through an initiative (cycle) of “fundamental change” (or renewal). See Conscious Agility: A Brief Introduction for more detail.
Greene’s Apprenticeship phase generally relates to Conscious Agility’s Define phase.
The essence of the Define phase is to foster awareness among stakeholders and establish clarity around the initiative. Conscious Agility’s Discover a “minimal” Ecosystem Definition conversation cluster involves design team members discovering their own calling (Chapter I).
Greene’s Creative-Active phase generally relates to Conscious Agility’s Create phase, including Greene’s Apprenticeship phase and Mastery phase.
The essence of the Create phase is to achieve greater awareness, intuition, orientation, and improvisation (among stakeholders) by evolving the ecosystem.
Conscious Agility’s Enact Experiences conversation cluster involves stakeholders engaging in discovering their calling (Chapter I), the ideal apprenticeship (Chapter II), and the mentor dynamic (Chapter III).
Conscious Agility’s Integrate Stakeholders conversation cluster involves stakeholders engaging in social intelligence (Chapter IV), the creative process (Chapter V), and mastery (Chapter VI).
Greene’s Mastery phase generally relates to Conscious Agility’s Refine phase.
The essence of the Refine phase is to ensure stakeholders have sufficiently evolved the ecosystem to nurture continued success.
Conscious Agility’s Embrace Experiences conversation cluster and Nurture Stakeholders conversation cluster involve stakeholders and design team members engaging in mastery (Chapter VI).
Mastery and Transformation
Finally, you must not see this process of moving through levels of intelligence as merely linear, heading towards some kind of ultimate destination known as mastery. Your whole life is a kind of apprenticeship to which you apply your learning skills. Everything that happens to you is a form of instruction if you pay attention. The creativity that you gain in learning a skill so deeply must be constantly refreshed, as you keep forcing your mind back to a state of openness. Even knowledge of your vocation must be revisited throughout the course of your life as changes in circumstance force you to adapt its direction. In moving toward mastery, you are bringing your mind closer to reality and to life itself. Anything that is alive is in a continual state of change and movement. The moment that you rest, thinking that you have attained the level you desire, a part of your mind enters a phase of decay. You lose your hard-earned creativity and others being to sense it. This is a power and intelligence that must be continually renewed or it will die.
Greene’s elegant emphasis that we “must not see this process of moving through levels of intelligence as merely linear, heading towards some kind of ultimate destination known as mastery” and anything that is alive is in a continual state of change and movement” is again absolutely brilliant!
Robert Greene‘s (@) accentuation of mastery as a “power and intelligence that must be continually renewed or it will die” is completely aligned with Brad Barton (@Brad_Barton), Mark Ferraro (@mark4ro), and I (@SAlhir) describing Conscious Agility‘s Define, Create, and Refine phases as an initiative (cycle) of “fundamental change” or renewal.
In so many aspects of practice, Mastery and Conscious Agility are readily aligned! Also see Conscious Agility: A Brief Introduction for more detail. And also see Constructively (rather than Destructively) Adopting and Sustaining the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) if you are doing anything with the SAFe (and perhaps struggling to achieve success)!
My sadness was not in the authors or the article itself, but in the fact that it has come to this. Instead of simply identifying, collecting and having the patterns available to use as needed, we as the agile community have felt the need to try and mix and match patterns in various ways, label them as frameworks, sell certifications for them and argue about which framework is the best. This has been ongoing and is being perpetrated as the focus is now on “scaling” agile instead of anchoring to the mindset if “being” agile. What this has caused is noise, confusion and many many less than stellar results then practitioners who try to lay these frameworks on top of organizations without first identifying what is needed.
Read Tom’s complete “I Must ASK (Agile Scaling Knowledge) — Has It Really Come to This?” blog post for more!
And while Tom acknowledges the importance of patterns and frameworks, he emphasizes the importance of “implementing” or “pulling in” those patterns that confront the dysfunctions (and offer efficiency and effectiveness) within an organization based on it’s needs — thus, birthing a framework (starting with a fresh “blank” canvas) based on the needs of the organization (Brad Barton, Mark Ferraro, and Si Alhir) — that is, Constructively (rather than Destructively) Adopting and Sustaining …
All too often, we neglect the journey (adopting, sustaining, and scaling) and obsessively/compulsively focus on the destination. . .
Life is a journey, not a destination.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)
To @SAlhir, someone with more soul than I have ever experienced – Do you have ‘soul in the game’? http://t.co/ClwhP8Ts8W
To which I replied:
.@tsylvest Deepest gratitude, my friend. Life is so very short, and without soul, it is that much more less meaningful.
Very grateful to Tom for his sentiments!
In reading Tom’s tweet, I was quickly reminded of Alejandro Jodorowsky . . .
. . . and Viktor Frankl . . .
“What is to give light must endure burning.”
So many people simply forget their goal in life (in creating a soul) and no longer give light (and must endure burning).
I have been very fortunate to have may encounters with death (death-rebirth experiences) over the years so as to realize — To create yourself a soul, one must have soul in the game (and from this we experience such freedom) — and I am deeply grateful to those (like Tom) how have honored our shared experience in that creation (of a soul and our individual souls)!