Having a passion for integrating disparate ideas, concepts, etc., into a unified organism that adapts to situations, in 2002 I created a course, “Managing Complex

Projects.” It was about applying Complexity Theory to Waterfall projects. Little did I realize the seeds were being created for a personal Business Agility manifesto or, more precisely, Flow. This series of articles describes the transition to Flow as well as observations on the challenges Business Agility faces.

The first key point I discovered 10 years before writing the course was putting human nature first. This approach was originally viewed as “soft” and not for real men. (Ouch! Notice the implied misogyny not to mention detachment from the human spirit.) In my change management practice I had to keep that reality “behind the curtain.” Today, it is catching fire. In all honesty, without dedication to doing the personal spade work required, I don’t see much of a change. Let me explain.

I was in a Flow workshop and watched confirmed Agilists who, I believe, despise Waterfall, make the same mistake as confirmed Waterfall devotees. They sought security in the familiar rather than risk being open and vulnerable in order to connect with team members. “Ready, Fire, Aim” was the order of the day. There was a jumping to applying Agile techniques without stepping back, thoroughly assessing the customer, their problems, and potential solutions.

The desire to “DO” within an accepted, comfortable methodology swept through the group, wanting a “fix” in order to calm down and get to a conclusion. Mind you, these are decent people with good intentions. However, the desire to go with the familiar that self-protected stood out…just like it probably has on almost any project since the beginning of time.

It was a variation on a common theme in science fiction novels that goes something like this, “Technology will change human nature. If we apply the right technique we will all be happy and productive.” What isn’t said is eventually there will be a battle as to which technique is the best. The winner will turn that technique into a religion and then will work diligently, much like the Ape leaders in Planet of the Apes, to shackle everyone with those beliefs in the name of setting them free. Go figure.

Well, that’s enough for now. See you in part 2 where we go deeper into the realities that must be addressed for successful application of Business Agility.