Do Your Teams Thrive on Chaos?

Politics and power struggles are unfortunately a way of life in large organizations.  Anything that threatens the existing power structure can become a focal point for this energy.   Agile and lean development represent those threatening changes for many people.

While there are hundreds of potential reasons that someone may resist Agile development, I think the most common is the fact that there are people that thrive on the chaos of software development.  Since chaos has been an accepted state for so long, organizations have sought out people that can thrive in a chaotic system.   This is Darwinism at its best.  Those that are good at it get promoted, those that aren’t good at it leave.

If you have an argument with someone and their points do not make sense, they are probably arguing a different position in their mind.  Savvy people become good at figuring out what the other person is really protecting.   It is usually some form of “Am I a valuable person, am I accepted by this organization, or am I a good member of my family unit”.    So the talented “fire fighter” and problem solver, who is faced with the prospect of fewer fires and fewer problems, may begin to question their value in this tnew environment.

So when someone is arguing against agile, they may really be arguing for their own value to the organization.  Their internal logic may be something like:

“I am good at fighting fires.”

“If there are no fires I will not be a good employee,.”

“If I’m not a good employee the organization will devalue me and I could be let go.”

“If I am let go I will not be a valuable provider for my family.”

“if I am not a valuable provider for my family they may  leave me.”

So you think you are arguing about how to form scrum teams and they are trying to avoid poverty and divorce in their mind!

firemen_firefighter_fire

In my part of the country, when a string of arson fires break out it is not uncommon to find out it was a member of the local fire company that is responsible.   A fire fighter without fires lacks value and excitement in their lives.  They have literally become addicted to the adrenaline created by the crisis.

Overcoming resistance is one of the most challenging issues faced by Agile coaches engaged in enterprise transformation,  So at the risk of oversimplifying this problem and the solution, try to engage the resistors in defining the new process and help them to see how their knowledge can be just as valuable avoiding problems as it was solving them post-facto..  The organization should create incentives for some of these key employees to create a successful roll out.  Also, lack of problems does not mean boring.  The fast paced development under Agile provides plenty of challenges to overcome.

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