Category Archives: Business Craftsmanship

Rethinking Diversity


Here’s a story: My family and I relocated from London to Silicon Valley, California in 1999. Continue reading

Agile Games? I wonder…

This is one of those “thinking aloud” posts, triggered by a recent discussion on one of the Scrum lists, where one person asks others something like: I’ve got this problem (person/situation), what game can I play to fix this? I’m simplifying greatly, but that is the gist of it. Continue reading

Happiness is a warm puppy

Happiness is the thing these days. All workers should be happy. The Agile Alliance tell me in a recent email that “The research is clear: happy workers are more productive workers.” That may be true, but what does it mean? And how do you measure if I’m happy or not? Continue reading

Leadership Snake Oil

In the Agile world these days (or perhaps always) everyone wants to become a Leader. Thus a whole industry has exploded around this idea. If people want to buy it, others will sell it. But what are they selling? And what is it that people really want to buy?

Mostly, the whole thing is a myth—snake oil for the 21st century. You can’t teach people to be leaders. Leadership is an emergent property, and one that is best shared within a creative group. All of us are capable of leading, and only ever in certain contexts. The ones that believe they can lead anything or anyone turn out to be megalomaniacs like Donald Trump.

There are, essentially, two concepts of leadership: a leader of thought, or a leader of people. Thought Leader is (with a few sad exceptions) a designation given to someone based on the work they have done. There is no training course for thought leading. It would be nonsense. So we can assume that the leadership courses on offer teach people to lead other people. And I ask, who would want to do that, and why? The Pied Piper led people. So did Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, Kim Jon Il, and so on. Leadership, and its counterpart, Leader-worship are the joint cause of most of the ills of the world.

Creating a leadership culture does two things, i) empowers a small group of people to believe they are more important, more capable, perhaps even more benevolent than others, and ii) disempowers everyone else, creating a culture of leader-dependency, where people can eschew any responsibility for their actions.

I’m surprised that so many in the Agile world buy into this. Leadership culture seems to me to be the antitheses of Agile. I’ve always thought of Agile as the business counter-culture, yet this is BusinessAsUsual++. Nothing will change until we ourselves start changing.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating. We don’t need more leaders. We need less. What we need more of is good corporate citizens. We now have hundred of Leadership Development programs, but where are all the Citizenship Development programs? I’ve yet to hear of one.

I invite you to step away from the buzzwords, the accreditations and the glory, and ask yourself: What do I really seek? What is congruent with my beliefs? You may be surprised by what your inner voice answers.

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What do you do?

I’ve always cringed a little (sometimes a lot) when asked the question “what do you do?” This is partly due to long periods of my life when I actually did very little—I was unemployed, careerless, in some low-paid job, just getting by. Continue reading

Sacred Space

I’ve recently been facilitating in-house workshops on storytelling for presentations and talks. This started as a one-off effort, on request, and grew to be multiple workshops with over 300 people attending. One attendee invited me to be a guest speaker at our company’s Toastmaster club meeting, of which he is currently president. Continue reading

Value Expressions

[Related post: Corporate Sadness]

I’d like to see corporate value statements read more like these examples, which I’ll call value expressions, because expressions are generally more open than statements. Continue reading

Corporate Sadness

Fun used to be something people had when they were happy. It was spontaneous, playful, irreverent. But now it is a “Corporate Value”. I find that so very sad. But wait, sadness isn’t a corporate value, so snap out of it. This is a FUN place to work! Have fun. Have fun now! Continue reading

I am an ironing board

Session Notes for Open Space session at Agile Open, California, Thursday 9th October 2014. Around 25-30 people in attendance. Continue reading

The Secondary Indirective

This is an alternative to the Prime Directive for opening a retrospective. Continue reading