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System vs. Psyche w/ Dennis Stevens and Alistair Cockburn | Part 1

Reading: System vs. Psyche w/ Dennis Stevens and Alistair Cockburn | Part 1
In this new candid discussion series, Dennis Stevens and Alistair Cockburn delve deeply into the relationship between system effects and psyche effects through lens of each of their unique perspectives. To hear the second part of their discussion, click here. 


– Reflection is I’m personally reflecting on how I feel about things and think about things and who I am as a person my… The psyche, my mind, my soul, my spirit, right? That’s a personal reflection and that’s important. But as a leader of an organization, I’m reflecting on have the teams I’ve put in place and the rules of the game for them to play. Is it making them better? Is it making them be the best they can be? Is it creating a situation that isn’t harmful to their psyche? Is it producing the best possible exchange of value for my customers?

– [Alistair] Right.

– Is it producing the things that I’m responsible for from a compliance and governance just the rules of the game that I’m playing standpoint.

– Right.

– So when you look at what Deming says around that is, how is this thing, how do you expect this thing to be working? Like all those things you have results that you want, they’re all interrelated. How do you expect them to fit together? And then when you look at it, where is it not doing what you think is gonna do either it’s not working the way you think it ought to or it’s not producing the result the personal results, the product results, the compliance results that you think you need and then have a theory about how to fix it. Well, my theory of how to fix it is I go change the rules of the game or the organizational structure.

– Okay now, I’m with you on change rules of the game. Bet it’s the hardest thing in the world to do. How do you change the rules of the game?

– Well, so what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna talk about making policy explicit. It’s a Kanban thing that David Anderson taught us right? Make process and policies explicit. I’m going to build a literal Kanban around my governance model that talks about the flow of ideas. I love the concept that decisions are the currency of agility, right?

– [Alistair] Right.

– That’s great. One of the things I’ve–

– It is not luck of agility, it’s the unit of work in organizations. It’s got nothing to do with agility, per se.

– If your, decisions are slow, you can’t be Agile. If your decisions get blocked, and I’ve talked about risking process and decisions and process before instead of limiting work in process–

– Now do you make, so what kind of policies can you make explicit and then is part, yeah, it’s part one. How do you make policies? Because most policies, people don’t know that they’re there.

– Well, that’s part of the problem. So they’re not this this is all the visible, the training, the scripts from the rules are pretty straight forward. I have a policy on how much work I can put into a period of time and how I decided what I’m gonna put in there. I work in a small batch and I have a rule about how I’m gonna review it. That here’s a team, here’s the decisions they have permission to make. Here’s the bounce that they can make them within. And then I’ve got some product owner or some external force setting the strategic boundaries for those decisions.

– Yeah but, okay, so are you gonna pick a policy that you didn’t mention that affects it, that they may or may not wanna make explicit, which is are you measuring individual productivity?

– Yeah. So now this becomes really–

– ‘Cause that’s not inside a Scrum, but it’s inside of an organization. So when you say we’re going to measure the policies around Scrum, and it’s not independent from the policies of the organization,

– And then yeah so that sort of stuff, that elevate Agile conversation is around my organizational design. It’s around what we actually measure for performance. It’s around the accountability systems at different people. It’s around the competing accountability systems that people find themselves in. It’s around the financial budgeting and controls. I have–

– Now, can you, so, and I don’t know if I’m jumping ahead, but you’ll style of my questions will always be right for forever. Can, one second, I’m also taking some–

– I know you do it, ’cause what you’ll do is you’ll guide me to where the dots connect and we can have meaningful–

– Can you get them to change the articulator even change the accountability policies?

– So we can, when we come in, because what we’re selling is to people. You have to change the system in order to get the agility you want, your system is producing. What do you mean by system? Its organizational structure, its your governance modeling compliance, its the way you measure and manage results. Those three things have to change to get the outcomes that you want. And so, because that’s, if you don’t believe that you don’t hire us. “Cause that’s where we start the story. Here’s what’s interesting is how do you–

– I’ll be good to partner with you because I do, if we do it kind of my systems versus psyche, right? I do everything on the psyche site.

– I know, I know.

– And so there was a guy and I won’t name names but he was visiting here and he’s worked with someone who’s all about stakeholder value right? And we’re talking and I’m telling him stuff. Is he Canadian?

– I won’t say anything.

– Okay.

– I don’t want you to identify him. I’ll tell you later, maybe. But I was telling about, I do all this stuff kind of intuitively it’s interesting how you derive your stuff. But if you say what improves or hinders collaboration. And you get to reward structures that’s your accountability thing. Whatever and if you look at accountability or a reward structures for a minute, you get executive bonuses.

– You get all kinds of stuff. Let’s say–

– Well, my brain this is my brain works by free association. I’m not a systems thinker like you. I just think things. So then I go, okay, that’s interesting. What we know is that in very many companies the executive bonuses are in conflict. The simplest example is this one’s rewarded for quantity and this one’s rewarded for quality. And then boom then they can’t collaborate or to put it politely, there’s an upper limit on the collaboration they can achieve. Because, so then it means that you have to change the bonuses. What I do now is I go… that’s in my lectures. If you’re going to talk collaboration and this is why I can’t work with any of the frameworks the so-called at-scale frameworks I opened up is Scrum at scale. Very cool graphics, very beautiful, sexy. Like I was jealous, insanely jealous and then it occurs to me. I’m looking for the chapter on executive bonuses. There’s no chapter on executive bonuses.

– [Dennis] No.

– And I go, if you’re not talking about conflicts and reward structures at the higher executive levels, you’re not talking about scale because the scale question is what’s our initiative and what are our priorities, not how do we execute?

– That’s exactly right.

– That flows from the top. It’s in all my lectures and I’m there. And this is, on the record by cause I talk about it a lot. I was at Vodafone Greece and I had the CEO and the CFO and the CXO and the CTO and the first line reports. So I had a nice little group and I’m talking about all this stuff. And I said, so guys, you guys, you are the right people. You wanna play this game. If you wanna get more efficient, forget Agile you want to get more efficient, more effective. We have to talk about how you do your bonuses. And the CEO bless his heart as they say, down here in the South says, “That it’s very interesting.” He says, “At our team level, “we have a team-based, bonuses, “so we don’t have a problem, but I can see that as we break that down into the different levels like two levels below us, how it gets siloed and we lose the cross-departmental collaboration. So I’ll make sure that take a look at that.” And I was like, score. But anyway, and so my way of playing you would have gotten the same question from your systems approach. But that’s how I come at it. But anyway, this is visitors listening to me and he goes but I don’t get it Alistair, wait, wait, wait, you haven’t mentioned stakeholder value once. Why do these people stay in the room with you? Why do they even, like why did they give you an hour of their time? And I said, “Because I treat them like people.” And they’ll like that.

– That’s right.

– And we stay in the room.

– Yes, that’s exactly right.

– Yes, yeah. It was fun I, and you know, me, talking to execs and how it can be how I am. The one guy I said, okay, for warmup exercise, we need to do something a little bit different than maybe you’re used to. There’s a thing that someone alerted me to which is a recognition versus confidence. People are sometimes not recognized for what they’re good at, right. So I made a little matrix and I drew dots and I super simplified it. When you super simplify it you get this interesting question, name something that you’re good at but most people don’t recognize you for. As a people get to get a little brag about themselves. Like I’m a super fly fisherman and people don’t know that, or I make omelets. I can make the best ribs or whatever it is. We’re going around the room and this one guy basically he’s, upper executive level at this thing and starts giving his job description what I’m good at, and he’s telling all this stuff, he’s his department. And I interrupt him and I go, I’m sorry. That’s not something that you’re good at but not recognized for, of course you’re recognized for it. That’s your job, you better be good at it. Put it all on the side. We don’t care about that stuff. Now tell us something that we don’t know about you that you’re good at, that you don’t get recognized for. He was like this right he was all all set on the advertising campaign. And he had to go dig around. And these people had worked with each other for years, obviously. But at the end they said I didn’t know that about those people.

– That’s nice.

– So boom, now they’re in the room.

– Right.

– That’s the that.

– Yeah, so you’re engaging with them in a very human way. This, I don’t know if you’ve seen the trust influence loop stuff that I drew up.

– Nah, what’s the first influence thing. What’s that?

– Assume I know nothing, I probably Know nothing.

– You get access to someone to have a conversation about a topic to whatever path. And the first thing you have to do is you have to build empathy with them, for their problem and their view of the world.

– Right.

– And then you can start to jointly develop a point of view. And if we’re good at it and you and I are good at it we get them to understand the point of view that we walked in to tell them. We don’t do it by telling it to them. From the point of empathy. And that creates safety for them.

– Yeah.

– That’s the influencer side of the circle.

– Okay.

– Then we get agency or permission to go do something. If you draw like a figure eight, like–

– Should have empathy influence or what’s the third word?

– Access.

– Yeah.

– Empathy.

– Yeah.

– Point of view.

– Yeah.

– Share point of view.

– Yeah.

– Co-created point of view if you wanna use the right language.

– Right.

– Safety that’s on the influence side. And then on the trust side of the figure eight is agency, permission to go do something–

– Hang on the trust side. There was trust on the one side and an influence on the other side.

– Then you get agency like shared permission to go do something and you do it with integrity which means you stay inside the bounds of what you agreed to. You don’t violate the safety that you created on the influence side. You do it with competence and then you demonstrate the results. What that does it gets you access to another conversation or a different conversation, or a bigger conversation which you approach with empathy first. Which you then get a shared point of view around that one. Great safety there. So it walked around the figure eight with that.

– Yeah.

– And so–

– I couldn’t possibly do this stuff deliberately. I’d have a big list, I’d have this on the walls that you didn’t seem to be, my eyes go .

– Yeah, I think what happens is I think there’s just an undeniable truth and the cycle of the trust influence loop.

– Right, right.

– I just think people are wired and that’s true. And all I did was spent three or four years studying it to come up with a model to explain it, ’cause now I can walk into a failed conversation and I can say, let’s see where this broke down. You guys never established empathy with each other.

– Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey, that would make a great addition. Sidebar insert on my collaboration thing. Do you have anything written up on that? That I can–

– I’ve got a blog. I’ve got, I think I’ve got a video. We’ve got a blog on it. I can get that.

– Let me see the URL, A I should know it and B I should include it. So that counts as something that’s sufficiently different to anything that I have, because you said the key word if you’re familiar with that, you can walk into a failed conversation and diagnose the breaking point.

– Yeah, the brakes tend to be things like you you told a great story on the influence side. bet you didn’t do it with competence.

– Right.

– Had no results, so I don’t trust you anymore. You broke your trust and you don’t . Or it can be something like we agreed on. This was the problem and I felt good that you understood my need to solve that but you went out and you didn’t operate with integrity with the bounds that we established all boundaries sort of thing. You broke you boundaries and now the trust is eroded. You don’t have influence or really often when people like you and I walk into the room it’s already know the fricking answer. And I start telling the answer way before, I’ve tried to understand what your problem is.

– Yeah.

– You can hear me as a well established influencer. It’s a really interesting diagnostic then what you can do in a conflict situation. I use it for engagements with my coaches and the client. Where did you relationship breakdown with the client, this case? ‘Cause it’s always your responsibility as the consultant to manage the relationship.

– Right.

– So where did it break down? And so we use that diagnostic, but you can also use it like dealing with your wife or your girlfriend or you can use it dealing with any circumstance but we can get people that are in conflict. And this is another one of those systems ideas. We can get people in conflict. And go, let me tell you about the dance of relationships and this trust influencing, ’cause it’s not the Denis is bad or Alistair’s bad. Y’all, didn’t respect this cycle. We can make this cycle–

– Do you ever make it explicit for them? And they point to it on the chart and they go.

– Yep, I’ll even tell them what I’m about. to use the trust influence loop, to teach you how to use the trust influence loop.

– Yeah, yeah, yeah.

– ‘Cause I have to work with empathy. You have to get them to understand that there’s a problem. That’s solvable that isn’t them first.

– You’re almost making me want to learn some systems stuff. My brain is refusing. I didn’t in the nineties, I was told to design the process. and for years my brain literally couldn’t hold the concept of a process. I don’t know if it took a decade or what? Before my brain literally could even hold the word process in place inside of two neurons for like more than a couple of seconds. And finally I can, and I’ve got the same thing going on with systems now. I love the way you made that explicit.

– Your brain is so powerful at making connections at such a high level.

– Yeah.

– Just seeing through it, For you to back up seven levels. The first principles of how you got there is so hard. What you’ve done with heart of Agile though is that that’s 30 years of work for you though.

– Yeah, that’s right, exactly It is I got four words . How do you know the 30, I’ll have it down to two. Now, two’s too few, two’s too few. If I can do it in three I would. Four is really pushing the limit.

– I think they’re the right four. I think that there are, when I started taking apart the question of the question I asked when I started taking it apart, it’s like what are there category errors? Are there missing things in here in the picture that are first principles that people would be thinking about to make this work?

– Yeah.

– And, I don’t know if there’s a gap or not. I’d go through and question it, but like the concept of thriving that we talked about earlier. How do you get a group of people to want to collaborate? And you build a tribe out of them.

– Right.

– There’s behaviors of people who work together with a common problem. Work together better than people that don’t think their problems. What we see with developers and testers and operations people is their tribe with their kind and their problem. And they’re against each other. What we have to do is we have to create teams that have everything needed and break down silos with technology and new processes ways of thinking to create a tribe where the enemy is solving a class of problem or getting to an outcome for a customer. Now the barriers to collaboration are removed. Cause we’re on the same team, we’re in the same tribe.

– Well, well, okay so let me, and that was taking a bet–

– Just words. It’s just labels I’m using to talk about things you already know.

– Yeah. I was in the bath tub the other day like doing this in my head and really happy. I didn’t have any great downwards because they didn’t want to jump the gun. But, I was going, okay so what issues are systems and what issues are our psyche. Which ones are attitude things in which ones are structural. ‘Cause I talk about in now in my slide deck about heart of Agile but it shouldn’t been in the Agile manifesto kind of was it’s attitudes over structures.

– Yeah.

– So structures are important but attitudes are more important.

– If you have the wrong structures the attitude will fail.

– Right, right, right, right. But you can get a decent structure but you don’t get the attitude The magic, the magic, the magic is in the attitude. The structure can destroy it. That’s right.

– Because structure can’t create it.

– That’s right. But the structure can prevent it though. If you get the right structure in place and then coach the attitude within that. Cause if I make transparency a way that you fail, then because of my structure ’cause how I’ve organized your team and make it fail socially because I’ve got the wrong tribe in constructs or from an accountability standpoint. I’ve got competing concerns were from a personal value standpoint because you’re diminished in how you get rewarded for the work that you do. Like there’s all kinds of things that go into the structure but it’s really just how I form my teams, my policies and decision rights and how I measure and manage success. Structure–

– Who’s our man, I was trying to, I’m so bad with names. The guy who did all the benchmarking of software projects. Capers Jones.

– [Dennis] Capers Jones.

– Capers Jones yeah. And what he did that was so–

– It wasn’t he weren’t you at IBM at the same time?

– I was in IBM research in Switzerland. I didn’t talk to anybody. We were really isolated over there. What he did that was magical. Was he separated out influences that slow or damage a project from those that help it.

– Yeah.

– Right. When he said management. Management can damage by like 250%. Like, it was like enormous. Damage can only improve by like 20%. It’s asymmetric. So you can’t just say one thing. And so in this sense structured damages times, many factors but it doesn’t generate the magic. The magic comes from the attitude.

– Yeah, so when I play this game and you and I had this conversation I was thinking about this the other day, 12 years ago or 13 years ago in Chicago, some jazz club thing or something. When I very first met you when Chris Matt introduced us. I was talking in my talk that day about how I would flip the Agile manifesto. In this case, I would say sufficient structure to support the attitude that’s needed. I would say–

– Cute, cute, cute cute.

– Right, If you take all those and said over you would say sufficient to drive. So this is still the most important one, but if you don’t have a sufficient amount of these things on their–

– ‘Cause efficient process and tools to support individuals and interactions.

– ‘Cause if you do it wrong you can make it impossible for that to happen.

– Correct, correct, correct. And so, anyway, so back to my bathtub. I was making this list and I flipped over of course to your side for a moment, because I was looking for structures where I had made structural changes in order to get attitude changes. And back around 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 those numbers, I was the facilities design expert in it in the industry, which is the weirdest thing in the world.

– Yes.

– And I would, and it became so simple that I didn’t even have to think about it, like it took a while to derive it. To notice it and derive it, but I would… And now you, this is me using my…. Everything I do pretty much everything I do. I take down to the level of human psyche. Human emotion, and when you say tribal. That’s down in there, fear, trust, tribal belonging all that stuff. I would walk into an organization and they would have lectures. In 2000 I gave a lecture at booths conference on convection currents of information flow.

– Nice.

– And so I said you’ve got like the marketing team here, my sales team here. Then you’ve got the requirements team here. You’ve got the design team here. And the coding team, if you do that. And then the testers is here. But even if you don’t separate those two. But nonetheless, that’s pretty standard. I said, what happens is you’ve got ghettos. And then you use tribes, you have ghettos. And all the ghettos have a back chatter about how ugly all the other ghettos are. The salespeople are all going to like how the programmers don’t have any personality. And then the programmers are going to how the salespeople can’t hold a thought for more than two minutes and whatever, the BAS and the testing. And then you have a meeting and they’re all in the same room. And somebody says something but they’re so busy with the back chatter about how ugly the other people are in the room.

– They can’t even hear them.

– They can’t get the.. The idea, it can’t get in, it’s blocked. It falls on the floor, right?

– [Dennis] Right.

– And so I said, you have to break up the ghettos. And so now you take a cross-functional team and you’ve got a new ghetto. You say tribes. I say, you’ve got a new ghetto.

– Yeah.

– But who are they gonna back chatter against? Well, they’re gonna back chatter against a different ghetto, a different product group. And the damage from that is less because the fast communication. And the regard for wellbeing is strong inside there, where you say tribe, and I say ghetto. So I would go, in that time period, 2000- 2004, kind of a time period, I would walk into an organization. This was before it was conscious. It was subconscious, I didn’t know about it. And I started talking to them and look around. And I literally, I can feel on my skin, the movement of ideas in an organization based on the walls in their roles, I literally, like, I literally feel it on me like blowing. And I would predict, I said, well, I’m just curious. I could imagine I would name certain problems that they would have and they go, how did you do.. How did you know that? Well–

– Sneaking around our building No, it’s just obvious–

– Yeah, I know because you have those people, but talking against those people and they can’t and you have, right.

– [Dennis] Yeah.

– There’s a shining example where I used to do it was a pure structural intervention.

– [Alistair] Change the seating.

– That’s right.

– And then you change the attitude from the changing the seating, you change the attitude. Like that’s pretty much pretty quickly.

– Now if you look at heart of Agile, which is psyche it’s a thinking it’s a way of being. And it’s all correct.

– By the way can you hold onto that thought for a moment?

– Yep. Cutting off right there.

– I did some debugging on the four words. So I had the four words like just literally threw them on the white board 2015 in the middle of an advanced Agile class. And then being reasonably paranoid, I said, just what I don’t want to have happen is three years down the road, someone’s gonna say, “Hey, you forgot X.” What I did for the next, almost a year but I did it for a long time. I’d go into any organization, any group any meet up any, anything. I had a whole room full of people. I put up five flip charts on the wall, And say I would take your post-it notes. List everything you ever had on a good project that you would like to see again that was useful to you. And then they did all that. And then I would say, now put them on these four flip charts. But if it doesn’t fit on any of the flip charts, collaborate, deliver, reflect and put it on this fifth flip chart so I can see it. That was my way of catching the holes. It doesn’t seem to have any holes. The one that tells me why was a skills development. We had skilled programmers and I realized it took me a long time to realize that goes in and improve taking a class. So improve is not only post retrospective policy improvement. It’s actually literally sending somebody to a class. To skill up in some whatever area. I did that for like almost a year. And then we tried, mind-mapping it. And it turns you can’t mind-map it because everything in the world fits basically…

– It’s too interconnected.

– Everything fits. Everything fits except for one thing And you’ll die laughing about this because I tell people this, you were in my kitchen doing IC Agile roadmap, and we didn’t have anything for what became value management. I think they did not make product management again. And then I said to you, people don’t realize that when wrote the Agile manifesto. It wasn’t the project managers. We threw out the window. Who we can train, we’re brought back as Scrum ministers. It was the BAS.

– The moving paper from one side or the other and obfuscating information.

– And when you and I were talking in 2012 2001 to 2012 BA still had not re-entered the room. Because they don’t make any decisions. They don’t have any decision-making authority.

– Yes, that’s right.

– Now we have the heart of Agile Academy which is like… It’s like next generation IC Agile and we’ve got classes, it’s skills development. Those are gonna be classes. We’re gonna hire people hire you guys and all the rest of it stuff. And every class has to have a home. And, you know, the one set of classes I can’t find a home for.

– Its the value management.

– All the things that move a piece of paper from the left to the right, is that our use cases collaboration, they’re not delivery. I will refuse to put anything in delivery. If it hasn’t got a feedback channel. So the basic BA artifacts don’t have a feedback channel. I have to put them in collaboration. which hurts me.

– I’ll put some thought into it. I could say it actually…. I could say actually looking at business analysis as creating a frame for shared understanding around delivery for creating the constructs for feedback and collaborate and for having an understanding of the products you could reflect.

– I can go and reflect.

– Yeah.

– So a business analysis where you’re creating a framework for examining. Legitimately goes into reflect. Thank you for that. But that’s a business analysis. Structure, when you write a use case you’re not really doing an analysis that’s a creative work where you’re constructing a potential future, something.

– It’s the first step of delivering then.

– You know story maps, story maps.

– Its first creation.

– There’s no feedback again.

– It has to be

– You didn’t deliver nothing man. You sat in a room and moved paper round. You didn’t deliver nothing. I’m sorry. Hardcore baby.

– I will continue to noodle on that one

– Do that. Cause some of them… You just opened a channel for me. Thank you for that. Certain types of things could go and reflect. If you create a structure where you can examine the current state of the system and you can use it to reflect that legitimate, it goes into reflect. Story maps as far as I’m concerned, our shared understanding. And that goes into collaborate. I’m okay with that.

– Yeah. So I think it gets spread out a little but I think it is cool that concept of to me reflect and Deming’s system of profound knowledge or system of theory of profound knowledge is how is this supposed to be working? Where is it not working right. What do I need to change? And how do I get people to understand it so they will change? Those the four steps of the system of profound knowledge from Deming. And it’s this underlying thinking of of why metrics became important. And then the world went crazy with the six Sigma stuff. I made it all about the metrics, but it’s really about deeply understanding what you’re trying to accomplish how this organization will deliver that.

– So wanna focus cause I want to stay on systems versus psyche. So on the basic level I’m gonna defend the psyche approach. Cause it’s all I got. I don’t do systems and I’m gonna pick up or less.. What?

– The heart of Agile. The psyche and soul of things. That’s the underlying theories. And what I’m gonna talk about is what conditions have to exist for those things to actually happen in the enterprise. And my thought process is not in a small team where these constraints and resistors and problems. I’m not trying to solve it for a group of six.

– I’m with you, I’m with you. Here’s what I wanna focus on, given you know my predisposition is to look at everything at the level of fear and motivation, basically, that’s what I get to. And you said this sentence how do I get people to understand so they will change.

– Yes.

– And I’m gonna argue that understanding and being willing to change are two separate things.

– Well, yeah, there’s a whole piece of safety. That’s why safety is so important on the influence side until you either… Until it won’t be embarrassing for you to change, until it won’t be threatening to you to change, you’re not gonna change and that’s why these processes that come out of the office of the CIO and the controller’s office and the CFO’s office and the process and policy constraints that come out of the PMO. Those were put there to create safety for the organization. People hold those positions, hold those the safety, the risk reduction, Dear, they care about it. And they don’t understand how we can go to this model and actually reduce the risk in the organization. So we have to

– Do you have any, and I hate to ask this but I have to ask this. Do you have any sort of success stories of execs who are willing to make these changes? That’s the moment like everything else to me is very nice.

– Yup.

– They’re not willing to make that change.

– Let’s take it back even a step further, what has to exist for them to be willing, to understand and make the change. And it’s a way to protect the thing they’re responsible for protecting without being the problem.

– But you have to change the thing that they’re responsible for protecting because they’re busy protecting the wrong thing.

– No, they’re not busy protecting the wrong thing. They have a faulty understanding of what it means to protect the thing. The financial guy that wants to write all the requirements up front and get them perfect so that you can come up with a budget and have it not very he doesn’t actually realize that he’s going to fail to actually protect the spend because he takes all of the adaptability out of a very complex unknown situation. The only way I can protect your budget is to allow us to drive risk down early and make trade-offs early. That allow us to deliver this thing within the budget the processes you’ve put in place, create a constraint around our ability to adapt the requirements.

– I would predict that their sense of unfamiliarity with the new terrain will generate a high level of fear. So even though they intellectually like this prefrontal cortex says, I read you. The reptilian brain is saying no way. You have to somehow reach back to the reptilian cortex.

– And it’s worse than that Alistair. It’s worse because these Agile people have been coming in running teams that think all these things are bad. They think these controls are irresponsible and evil. And in fact, telling this guy that what you’re asking him to do is evil. And so they are now you’re right. They’re reptilian really afraid of this Agile stuff.

– Right, right, right, right.

– We have to take them all the back end. This is the concept of one slice at a time. This is… I need access to have a conversation with about this. I need to understand every pain and every problem you have around it from an empty state that I have to be able to pose a could you imagine a world where if this team could do this, we could come up with a policy that protect what you need to while you do it today. And of course you don’t trust anybody to do it because you’ve been let down so many times can we agree to try and experiment? Can we create some safety for around experiment? You may agency to go run a limited change. That’s not risky, but not… I wanna make sure that, that I’m clear Mr. CFO. I’m not trying to run a policy exception group which is how you’ve done Agile. When it’s worked, you do it with policy exceptions because the way you do it doesn’t drive your risk down. I wanna practice it as if there was a new policy in place. I wanna do it with empathy for what you’re responsible for. And actually prove that it’s better. Because here’s the thing I’m so confident that I can solve his problem better with tribes and feedback and adaptability and sensing and responding. I can way more responsibly spend the company’s money than I can the way that he’s got it set up.

– Well, you know that and I know that and the hard part is the find a language and it’s cool. No, dang it. You just said something particularly need room.

– Can you imagine a situation where… Have you considered a situation where we can have that and this.

– Oh, I know what I have a story. We need stories. And at some point, I’d like to hear about some exec who did step forward into that. But I was working and I think I can legitimately say this with the hospitals in Utah or the formerly run by the Mormon church, broken off into their own nonprofit, 24 hospitals across all of Utah. And hooked to the university of Utah medical system. You know, the super MD-PhD people, great stuff. And they signed a giant contract. And inside the contract, this was in 2003, they said they had work Agile in 2003. It was in the contract that they had to work Agile is amazing. I ended up having a discussion with the process architect at GE healthcare.

– Nice.

– And they had a whole stage gate thing, very linear. He was convinced that his process design architecture could absorb anything. Whereas the Agile guys were saying, no it can’t either. And we got to a point, cause now he’s. They have a milestone, a zero and a milestone one and a milestone zero is kind of basic or your proof of concept, funding gate. And then milestone one, it turned out because they did a lot of things with sheet metal. Building equipment, GE healthcare, x-rays CR scanners, whatever. Was where they started putting in the pipeline, the ordering of steel and manufacturing. As you know you have to be way in advance. You can’t do it out of your profession. And what happened was that the salespeople would get a hold of things that past milestone in one and they would leak that to their league. They would sell it to their favorite customers we’re coming out with this new thing. And they would take the orders for that like milestone M 1. Well, you know, everything was late. By the time it got out there like it was arbitrarily random, just late. And you’ll totally identify with this. As we were talking, I asked this guy , ‘could we get permission to legitimately implement 10% of the system? Absolutely, production code, not prototype but take 10% implement it, measure it. And then based on that we can make a schedule that will be more accurate. And people would always say, no, you can never get this guy who agree to write production code before M 1 production code only comes after M 1. After we discussed it, he said you know, I don’t care. M 1 is a moment when you make a budget schedule a prediction, commitment. If you need to write 10% of the code before like nobody cares the length of time between M 0 and M 1. He said, except the salespeople, he said, I will wager you that the salespeople are so anxious to get there M1 stuff that they want to squeeze the time between M 0 and M 1, So they can get that out earlier. I said, we’ll go ask them. They’re your stakeholders. You seem to be caring about, do that. He came back, like, you know, a month later whenever the next meeting was astonished. They had been burned so many times from M 1 to delivery being late. They said, we don’t care how long the time is between M 0 and M 1. If you could give us a more accurate less embarrassing answer at M1 take as long as you need. And then give us that answer. Suddenly it was speaking of measurements. And fears and embarrass factors. Suddenly it was legitimate to literally do 10% of the project. Measure productivity, size, blah, blah thing. And then that became the basis for M1 and all of the stakeholders interests emotional and financial are protected.

– Yes.

– That’s a story that matches your scenario.

– What we have to do is we have to get underneath, like what happened there? What’s the dynamic? How do we do that on purpose? Because there’s 50 of those in these enterprises all at the same time. And we don’t have stories for all of them.

– Right. And you don’t have Alistair’s running around playing mind games with them.

– I don’t… Like you’re just gonna sit in there and Intuit it and figure it out on the spot. But yeah, there’s like one Alistair

– And there’s one Dennis. I miss you, man.

– Thank you. Thank you. This is fun, right?

– Yeah. You bet. Let’s do it again.

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