The system is you!

6 06 2011

“Changing the system, will change what people do. Changing what people do, will NOT change the system.” (Peter Sholtes)

The system that people work in accounts for as much as 95% of performance, as Edward Deming said.

What Deming and his followers say, is that it’s no point for a manager to try to optimize the perfomance of workers, by pushing them to work harder, more, extensive training etc. Managers and others need to change the system, to make any visible change in performance.

So is there no need for you to change? To start take individual accountability for the environment you work in, and the conditions that stops you from doing what you believe is right?

They do NOT say that individual actions has no effect. Individual actions is another story.

Who created the system in the first place? People.
Who sustains the system we work in? People.
Who has the possibility to change the system? People.

In fact, the system cannot change itself. It has to be changed by people. Managers, co-workers, team members, people like you and me.

When you realize that YOU are the system then it’s easy to see that you can make a difference. By using courage to say NO to useless re-organizations, to suggest better ways or go to agile war.  To say: ”We’re not doing this anymore!”.   All successful organizations, revolutions and break throughs in innovations and working conditions has started with someone not aggreeing with how the system works.

If all people believed that individual action has no point, that it’s all about ”the society” to change by itself, women would still have no voting rights, dictators would still sit comfortably in northern Africa, we would still have feodal rulers everywhere, slavery would still be legal.

These are big changes that has happened. In the agile IT community we’re talking about much smaller changes. Like how our work places are arranged, how the team sits, what tools and routines we’re instructed to use or what internal politics says is right or wrong to do for you as a co-worker. So of course there is much easier for us to make changes. Small change – small revolution.

Have you allied with your team members lately? Do you want to use Kanban, but the project manager doesn’t? Do you want to do retrospectives, and your project manager doesn’t? You want to automate tests? Your manager says you don’t have time? Need a product owner on site? No one will give you that unless you do ask for it persistently, creatively and humble with a decisive look?

Get allies, as the labor unions did. When you’re 6 out of 9 in a team that really wants to throw out the document heavy process and put in face 2 face communication or whatever agile technique or method you like to have – it’s easy to organize yourself and make changes!

It’s a bit ironic how often I hear agile minded team members (sometimes myself even) say that they need the project manager to change before they can go agile. You need a manager to get self-organized, is it so?

You are the system. You cannot change it all by yourself. But sure is, you can be the first to say NO!

If you first get friends with the one that stops you from doing whatever agile thing you like to do, by inviting him or her to lunch and show some interest and respect for his passions, then the NO will for sure be much easier to turn into a YES – we will change our little world, our little system to a little better place to be in.

Thx to friends at Agila Sverige conference for making me think.




One response

15 09 2011

Hear, hear!


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