The more I delve into organisational transformation and development, the more I realise that the ‘new way’ of working is not actually that new. The ideas and principles that underpin the Agile movement have been around for quite some time. Way back in 1969 you’ll find the following in the Industrial Management Review (Tannenbaum, Davies, 1969):
- Away from people are bad towards people are good
- Away from individuals as fixed towards seeing people as being in process
- Away from status and prestige for power towards status for organisationally relevant purposes
- Away from competition towards collaboration
In the same year, Richard Beckhard published his classic Organization Development: Strategies and Models, in which he explains his assumptions:
- The basic building blocks of the organisation are groups (teams)
- An always relevant change goal is the reduction of inappropriate competition
- Decision making is located where the information sources are
- Controls are interim measurements, not the basis of managerial strategy
- Develop open communication, mutual trust, and confidence between and across teams
- People support what they help create
It’s almost 40 years since 1969 and it’s clear that we haven’t yet reached the point where these beliefs are pervasive across industries. We still work in highly authoritarian environments where human-ness plays second fiddle to mechanical efficiency. We still try to keep our emotions bottled up in favour of logic and rationality. Our workplaces are still dominated by disempowerment, fear and angst, rather than autonomy, mastery and purpose.
That’s not good enough for me. That’s not good enough for any of us. I’m working on pushing us over the tipping point. I’m devoted to living in the new world that I can see in the distance. I’ll do whatever I can to get there.
I hope you’re with me.