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Volume 29, Issue 4

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Wednesday, 21 August 2013 17:03

Choosing Your Point of Organizational Incoherence

Much has been written, presented and debated in the past few years on the “right way” for executives and policy makers to reinvigorate companies, markets and economies. The distinguished scholar Carlota Perez suggests fundamental changes to the way growth and prosperity get measured. Along somewhat similar lines, Steven Denning focuses on the damage inflicted through adherence to the tenet of maximizing shareholder’s value. Gary Hammel, elaborating on another thread that Perez touches on, advocates values over value. Last but not the least, Hagel, Brown and Davison emphasize the power of pull for both designing the right system and designing the system right [i].

While the debate spans some topics that are clearly beyond the scope of responsibilities a typical executive is entrusted with, it is quite relevant to the Agilist concerned with end-to-end process implementation. Agile principles can, of course, be beneficially applied to product delivery departments such as dev and test. However, the real benefits to be had can only be attained through applying agile principles to the overall business process, not “just” the software development process. As pointed out by Tasktop’s Dave West in his recent Agile 2013 presentation, many/most of the Agile implementations tend to be of the Water-Scrum-Fall variety. In such implementations the Agile process in R&D is “sandwiched” between before-and-after corporate processes that are Waterfallish in nature. From a system perspective, incoherence at one point or another of such systems is pretty much inevitable due to incongruence of operating principles across the “Water,” the “Scrum” and/or the “Fall” components of the system. This reality and its operational manifestations are illustrated in Figure 1 and Figure 2 respectively.