Creating Generational Legacies

Friday, June 19, 2015

Agile and Scrum - the new organisational chart?

 "Older managers will never get it." But is that statement not perhaps dangerously ageist?
  • Thus Steve Jobs was 42 when he finally showed that he had figured out how to run Apple (1997). 
  • The founders of Agile and Scrum were all in their 40s and 50s by the time they figured out how to manage the staggering complexity of software development (by borrowing techniques originating in lean manufacturing and then greatly evolving them). They discovered that code and complexity respond to intelligence, not authority.
  • Most of those who are now at the cutting edge of figuring out how operate Agile and Scrum at scale are in their forties or fifties or even older.
We are also seeing a generation of software developers who grew up in a world of Agile and Scrum. The only management they ever knew was Agile and Scrum. They had never experienced hierarchical bureaucracy, with top-down command-and-control, and big bosses telling little bosses what to do, even when they didn't have a clue what to do, and so on.

And now this generation is moving up the managerial ladder. Their initial reaction when they encounter the hierarchical bureaucracy in big organizations is one of shock: why would any sensible person run an organization like that? In some cases, they buckle under and say: "If that's what I've got to do to get my bonus, then that's what I'll do."

But the more intelligent and gutsy ones are saying, "No, that's stupid. The future of the organization depends on continuous innovation and clever management of software development. So let's run this organization in the only way that makes sense, with Agile and Scrum, and self-organizing teams and managers as coaches, with an ideology of enablement not control, and let's figure out how to operate at scale, with vast ecosystems of developers" and so on.

And: "Why limit Agile and Scrum to software development? If this is a good way to manage staggering complexity, when not apply it to the rest of the complex problems we have to deal with.?" So Agile and Scrum is spreading across the board.

The result is that we are now seeing islands, promontories and even continents of Agile and Scrum in some of the largest old organizations, even as the very top still often grinds along in the old unproductive way. (That's what the Learning Consortium for the Creative Economy is all about--connecting those islands, promontories and continents and enabling them to learn together.)
So is it physical age of managers which is key, or the state of mind, assumptions and attitudes that are critical?

In fact, are some of the most radical thinkers, who not only "get it" but are "taking it to the next level", some of the oldest?

This is great, Steve—and reminds me of the time that Forbes put Peter Drucker on the cover with the headline "Still the Youngest Mind." He was 87 at the time.

Rick Wartzman, Executive Director
Mobile 323-896-0626

Friday, June 12, 2015

Creating Emoloyment in the Digital Economy

INteresting whitepaper from Mckinseys

Labor markets around the world haven’t kept pace with rapid shifts in the global economy, and their inefficiencies have taken a heavy toll. Millions of people cannot find work, even as sectors from technology to healthcare struggle to fill open positions. Many who do work feel overqualified or underutilized. These issues translate into costly wasted potential for the global economy. More important, they represent hundreds of millions of people coping with unemployment, underemployment, stagnant wages, and discouragement.
Online talent platforms can ease a number of labor-market dysfunctions by more effectively connecting individuals with work opportunities. Such platforms include websites, like and LinkedIn, that aggregate individual résumés with job postings from traditional employers, as well as the rapidly growing digital marketplaces of the new “gig economy,” such as Uber and Upwork. While hundreds of millions of people around the world already use these services, their capabilities and potential are still evolving. Yet even if they touch only a fraction of the global workforce, we believe they can generate significant benefits for economies and for individuals (exhibit).


In our new McKinsey Global Institute report, A labor market that works: Connecting talent with opportunity in the digital age, we examine the current state of employment and the impact these digital platforms could have:
  • In countries around the world, 30 to 45 percent of the working-age population is unemployed, inactive in the workforce, or working only part time. In Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, this adds up to 850 million people.
  • As online talent platforms grow in scale, they will become faster and more effective clearinghouses that can inject new momentum and transparency into job markets while drawing in new participants. Our supply-side analysis shows that online talent platforms could add $2.7 trillion, or 2.0 percent, to global GDP by 2025, while increasing employment by 72 million full-time-equivalent positions.
  • Up to 540 million people could benefit from online talent platforms by 2025. As many as 230 million could find new jobs more quickly, reducing the duration of unemployment, while 200 million who are inactive or employed part time could gain additional hours through freelance platforms. As many as 60 million people could find work that more closely suits their skills or preferences, while an additional 50 million could shift from informal to formal employment.
  • Countries (such as Greece, Spain, and South Africa) with persistently high unemployment and low participation rates could benefit most. Among advanced economies, the United States stands to realize significant gains because of the relative fluidity of its job market. By contrast, the potential is lower in China and Japan as a result of their low unemployment and other barriers that limit adoption.
  • Online talent platforms increase the transparency of the demand for skills, enabling young people to make better educational choices. As a result, more effective spending on tertiary education could reduce some of the $89 billion misallocation we find in Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  • Companies can use online talent platforms not only to identify and recruit candidates but also to motivate them and improve their productivity once they start work. We calculate that the adoption of these platforms could increase the output of companies by up to 9 percent and reduce the cost of recruiting talent and of human resources generally by as much as 7 percent.
Capturing this potential will require expanded broadband access, updated labor-market regulations, systems for delivering benefits to workers, and clearer data-ownership and privacy rules. There is also an enormous opportunity to harness the data these platforms gather to produce insights into the demand for specific skills and occupations—not to mention the career outcomes associated with particular educational institutions and programs. More accurate and predictive modeling could help individuals make more informed decisions about education, training, and career paths.
Governments around the world have struggled to increase employment in recent years. Online talent platforms show real promise for injecting more transparency and dynamism into job markets. As people come to connect with work opportunities more efficiently, even larger economic ripple effects could abound in the years ahead. To capture these benefits, regulatory frameworks, corporate practices, and individual mind-sets will have to change, along with technology. With the right investment, a thoughtful approach, and continued innovation from the private sector, the world could move closer to the goal of a labor market that works.
Visit the New America foundation’s website for information on Connecting Talent with Opportunity in the Digital Age, an event McKinsey helped organize.
For more on this topic, see James Manyika’s LinkedIn essay “The digital revolution is making the job market work for you” (June 2015).
About the authors
James Manyika is a director of the McKinsey Global Institute, where Susan Lund is a partner and Richard Dobbs is a director; Kelsey Robinson is an associate principal in McKinsey’s San Francisco office; and John Valentino is a consultant in the Silicon Valley office.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Innovation in Australia: Can Beaurocracy and Innovation co-exist

Innovation in Australia: Can Beaurocracy and Innovation co-existLast year, I was privileged to hear the legendary Gary Hamel talk -  Gary  has been called the world's "most influential business thinker" (Wall Street Journal) and "leading expert on business strategy (Fortune). 

Can Beaurocracy and Innovation co-exist

Last year, I was privileged to hear the legendary Gary Hamel talk -  Gary  has been called the world's "most influential business thinker" (Wall Street Journal) and "leading expert on business strategy (Fortune). 

Below  is a summary of why he thinks large organisations find it difficult to innovate and what they need to do to change 

The Large Organisations Disease

Large organizations of all types suffer from an assortment of congenital disabilities that no amount of incremental therapy can cure.  

1.  they are inertial
Because they are in a zone of comfort - there is no need to change in the absence of crisis - (why change what's not broke?)
Deep change, when it happens, is belated and convulsive, and typically requires an overhaul of the leadership team. Absent the bloodshed, the dynamics of change in the world’s largest companies aren’t much different from what one sees in a poorly-governed, authoritarian regime.

WHY - there a few if any mechanisms mechanisms that facilitate proactive bottom-up renewal.

2. They are incremental.
As business grows, the leaders become farmers and not hunters!  There function is to create an organise Beurocracy, with standards and structured to encourage standardisation - which is in direct conflict with innovation! They are in pursuit of operational efficiency - that is their kpi!

These structures are toxic to break-out thinking and relentless experimentation. 

They strive for innovation - and acquire young companies that haven’t yet lost their own innovation mojo (but upon acquisition most likely will).

3. They are emotionally sterile
We rarely see them galvanize the sort of volunteerism that animates life on the social web.  Initiative, imagination and passion can’t be commanded—they’re gifts. Every day, employees choose whether to bring those gifts to work or not, and the evidence suggests they usually leave them at home.  

In Gallup’s latest 142-country survey on the State of the Global Workplace, only 13% of employees were truly engaged in their work.

Imagine, if you will, a car engine so woefully inefficient that only 13% of the gas it consumes actually combusts. That’s the sort of waste we’re talking about. Large organizations squander more human capability than they use.

Inertial.  Incremental.  Insipid.  - will create destruction vs growth.

Allen Pathmarajah has an amazing model of the lifecycle of a business from creation to death of a business! 

Hamel says that the following innovations are ok, but are fiddling at the margins! —idea wikis, business incubators, online collaboration, design thinking, “authentic” leadership, et al—are no more than minor tweaks.  They are unlikely to be any more effective than the dozens of “fixes” that came before them. Remember T-groups, total quality management, skunk works, high performance teams, “intrapreneurship,” re-engineering, the learning organization, communities of practice, knowledge management, and customer centricity?  

All of these were timely, and a few genuinely helpful, but none of them rendered organizations fundamentally more adaptable, innovative or engaging.  Band-Aids®, braces and bariatric surgery don’t fix genetic disorders.

How do we build an organizations that is fit for the future ?

We need to change our foundational beliefs to build an organisation that 
  • is nimble , 
  • that will make innovation an instinctual and intrinsic capability.  
  • hat will inspire extraordinary contributions from our colleagues and employees. 

We need to change the core values and DNA of modern management and boards —it's not easy to change what's not broke! There is too much self interest

The operating system of most organisations is based on beaurocracy - top down 

Strategy gets set at the top. Power trickles down. Big leaders appoint little leaders. Individuals compete for promotion. Compensation correlates with rank. Tasks are assigned. Rules proscribe actions. Managers assess performance.  This constitutes the operating system for virtually every large-scale organization on the planet.

Ask just about any anyone to draw a picture of their organization—be it a Catholic priest, a Google software engineer, a nurse in Britain’s National Health Service, a guard in Shanghai’s Hongkou Detention Center, or an account executive at Barclays Bank—and you’ll get the familiar rendering of lines-and-boxes.  

This isn’t a diagram of a network, a community or an ecosystem—it’s the exoskeleton of bureaucracy; the pyramidal architecture of “command-and-control.”


  • It stifles new thinking, misallocates power, (since promotions often go to the most politically astute rather than to the most prescient or productive. )  
  • It discourages dissent and breeds sycophants.  
  • It makes it difficult for internal renegades to attract talent and cash, since resource allocation is controlled by executives whose emotional equity is invested in the past.

When the responsibility for setting strategy and direction is concentrated at the top of an organization, a few senior leaders become the gate keepers of change. If they are unwilling to adapt and learn, the entire organization stalls.  When a company misses the future, the fault invariably lies with a small cadre of seasoned executives who failed to write off their depreciating intellectual capital.  As we learned with the Soviet Union, centralization is the enemy of resilience. 

You can’t endorse a top-down authority structure and be serious about enhancing adaptability, innovation or engagement.

The dilemma

Managers want conformity, manage the future based on the past - want and need regularity and certainty

Growth and innovation and out the box thinking comes from irregular people (the misfits) with irregular ideas who create the irregular business models that generate the irregular returns.  

In this environment, what do we need to succeed?

  • Will Intel survive?  Most revenue comes from computer chips and less than 3% comes from the company’s unprofitable “Mobile & Communications” unit. Are they nimble ? Can they change
  • Did Kodak survive? 
  • Who replaced Sony Walkmans? 
  • Which large corporations will still  be here in 20 years 

Control and Rigidity  cripples organizational vitality.  Adaptability, whether in the biological or commercial realm, requires experimentation—and experiments are more likely to go wrong than right. 

Failure and failing should be rewarded and applauded? 

Shrink an individual’s scope of authority, and you shrink their incentive to dream, imagine and contribute.  It’s absurd that an adult can make a decision to buy a $20,000 car, but at work can’t requisition a $200 office chair without the boss’s sign-off.

Control vs Freedom

Make no mistake: control is important, as is alignment, discipline, focus, accountability and all the other liberty-limiting virtues so beloved by accountants and engineers—but freedom is equally important. 

If an organization is going to out-run the future, individuals need the freedom to bend the rules, take risks, go around channels, launch experiments and pursue their passions.  

An organisation needs both and do not necessarily need to be mutually exclusive!

It's the ying and yang of business 

Great  leaders, like Apple’s Tim Cook or HCL Technologies retired CEO, Vineet Nayar understand that the first priority is to do something truly amazing for customers, 

Do shareholders want to invest in sustainability and growth or short-term ROI calculations?

The gains that could be reaped from creating organizations that are as fully capable as the people who work within them will be the winners.

To succeed, businesses must do more than fiddling at the margins.  
  • We’ve flattened corporate hierarchies, but haven’t eliminated them.  
  • We’ve eulogized empowerment, but haven’t distributed executive authority.  
  • We’ve encouraged employees to speak up, but haven’t allowed them to set strategy.  
  • We’ve been advocates for innovation, but haven’t systematically dismantled the barriers that keep it marginalized. 
  • We’ve talked (endlessly) about the need for change, but haven’t taught employees how to be internal activists. 
  • We’ve denounced bureaucracy, but we haven’t dethroned it; and now we must.

We can cure the core incompetencies of the corporation—but only with a bold and concerted effort to pull bureaucracy up by its roots.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Open letter to the digital economy

Join the cause !!

We are in the early stages of an era of great technological change. Digital innovations are remaking our industries, economy, and society just as steam, electricity, and internal combustion did before them. Like their predecessors, computers and their kin are engines of great prosperity. Progress with hardware, software, and networks is improving our lives in countless ways and creating immense value. To take just a few examples, advances in artificial intelligence are helping doctors diagnose disease; new sensors are making it possible to drive cars more safely; digitization is delivering knowledge and entertainment more widely than ever; and mobile networks are interconnecting the planet’s population for the first time ever. The digital revolution is the best economic news on the planet.

But the evidence is clear that this progress is accompanied by some thorny challenges. The majority of US households have seen little if any income growth for over 20 years, the percentage of national income that’s paid out in wages has declined sharply in the US since 2000, and the American middle class, which is one of our country’s great creations, is being hollowed out. Outsourcing and offshoring have contributed to these phenomena, but we should keep in mind that the recent wave of globalization is itself reliant on advances in information and communication technologies. The fundamental facts are that we’re living in an ever-more digital and interlinked world, and the benefits of this technological surge have been very uneven.

Previous surges brought with them greatly increased demand for labor and sustained job and wage growth. This time around, the evidence is causing some people to wonder if things are different. Or, to paraphrase many recent headlines, will robots eat our jobs?

We think this is the wrong question, because it assumes that we are powerless to alter or shape the effects of technological change on labor.

We reject this idea.

Instead, we believe that there’s a great deal we can do to improve prospects for everyone.  We propose a three-pronged effort.

First, we recommend a set of basic public policy changes in the areas of education, infrastructure, entrepreneurship, trade, immigration,  and research. There’s a strong consensus that these can quickly improve America’s economy and the wellbeing of its workforce. It’s also time to start a conversation about the deeper changes that will be necessary over the longer term — to our tax and transfer system, to the nature and extent of our public investment, and even to how democracy can and should function in a networked world.

Second, we call on business leaders to develop new organizational models and approaches that not only enhance productivity and generate wealth but also create broad-based opportunity. The goal should be inclusive prosperity. The corporation is itself a powerful innovation, and one that can do far more than just generate profits and provide a competitive return to those who supply capital and take risk. It is both a tool for transforming ideas into products and services that address society’s challenges, and the means by which many people earn their living. Along with current waves of innovation in technology we also have an opportunity to re-invent the corporation and our business systems.

Third, we recognize that we don’t have all the answers. So we call for more and better research on the economic and social implications of the digital revolution and increased efforts to develop long-term solutions that go beyond current thinking.

In summary, we believe that the digital revolution is delivering an unprecedented set of tools for bolstering growth and productivity, creating wealth, and improving the world.  But we can only create a society of shared prosperity if we update our policies, organizations and research to seize the opportunities and address the challenges brought by these tools.