A little change, reorganization and optimization has not been enough for a long time now. Today, transformation is the name of the game. Transformations are therefore everywhere, in many forms and shades. A digital transformation for the business model, because data is supposed to be the new oil. An agile transformation for the organization because of its flexibility and speed in times of great complexity and uncertainty. A cultural transformation, because self-organization and creativity simply won’t thrive in stale corporate cultures.
However, there are worlds between the equally justified and radical aspirations of these endeavors and the dreary reality. Instead of the graceful butterfly that was hoped for after the transformation, the unattractive caterpillar turns into a somewhat more colorful caterpillar, disoriented and exhausted by the unsuccessful theater of transformation.
After all, we are not Spotify, they say, when the lofty aspirations of transformation meet the dull everyday life of a corporation. Exactly! And that is precisely the point. But the objection actually means something completely different: We will never be Spotify, we don’t even want to be, and we have a thousand good reasons for that.
Friction with these practical constraints is necessarily part of every transformation. The question is therefore only who will be exhausted first and what will wear out first. In most cases, it is not the constraints. The word alone suggests immutability. A practical constraint is logically founded in the matter at hand, was always this way and will always remain this way. There is no doubt about it.
Of course, the Manifesto for Agile Software Development says “Working software over comprehensive documentation”, but we absolutely must have these hundred different artifacts for our development process. After all, we are not Spotify! And “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools” is something we have understood in principle, but we absolutely require these 42 roles and are therefore glad that we can map them so well in SAFe. After all, we are not Spotify! I believe in agility and digitalization, but please do not touch my little silo and my role as boss. After all, we are not Spotify!
We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.
In this way any transformation can be diluted. The new is simply somehow amalgamated with the collective without changing very much. The transformation itself is transformed and its protagonists are either assimilated or repelled. Resistance is futile.
But without friction with the status quo, there is no real transformation. It may seem crazy and not very conducive to your career to question or reject constraints, but that’s what it’s all about. It’s about persistently pursuing the vision and seeing and thinking things differently than the constraints dictate. Every practical constraint brought into the field is thus an opportunity to push the transformation forward a little. Be brave, be radical.
Here’s to the crazy ones.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.
But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They push the human race forward.
And while some may see them as the crazy ones,
We see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think
they can change the world,
Are the ones who do.
Think different, Apple, 1997
Originally published at https://fuehrung-erfahren.de on October 12, 2020.