Heard Mike Cohn speak at AgileAustin user group

Today I had the pleasure of hearing Mike Cohn speak at an AgileAustin meeting. Below are some of my raw notes. I have not edited them. Just a brain dump of some of the presentation.

– agile is all about continuous improvement
– we cannot predict how an organization will respond to change.
– We cannot plot an agile transition on a ghant chart.
– When we break things apart to a small level, we sometimes lose sight of the whole
– The steps necessary to become good at X cannot be enumerated and have them be correct for more than a single organization

Different mental model: CAS, Complex Adaptive System
– many agents acting in parallel
– Control is highly dispersed and decentralized
– Overall system behavior is the result of a huge number of decisions made constantly by many agents

Our organizations need to be networks, not a hierarchy

Newtonian: Success = closing the gab with the desired state and actual state

CAS view: Success = achieving a good fit with the environment

Agility is different for every company. We need to find how it fits with the environment.

Vision should come from someone influential in the organization.
– Local actions will be taken based on interpretation of the vision. Overall we can’t predict local actions based on the communicated vision.

CAS (agile) model of change:
– Behavior is unpredictable and uncontrollable
– Direction is determined through emergence and by many people
– Every effect is also a cause
– Relationships are empowering
– Responsiveness to the environment is the measure of value
– Decisions are based on patterns and tensions
– Leaders are facilitators and supporters

Traditional model of change
– Behavior is predictable and controllable
– Direction is determined by a few leaders
– Every effect has a cause
– Relationships are directive
– Efficiency and reliability are measure of value
– Decisions are based on facts and data
– Leaders are experts and authorities

ADAPT acronym
– Awareness: Before an organization can change, the organization needs to be aware of the need to change. We have to be aware that what we are doing is not working as good as we would like it to work.
– Desire to change
– Ability to work in an agile manner
– Promote early successes to build momentum and get others to follow
– Transfer the impact of agile throughout the organization so that it sticks.