The people problem: 1 – Employee vs professional

10 thoughts for an imaginary essay entitled: Getting to Agile: The ‘People’ Dimension.

  1. Agile’s critical ‘people’ transformation is the change from employee to professional.
  2. An employee is a person you pay so you can tell them what to do. A professional – a doctor, lawyer, teacher, priest, etc. – is a person you pay so they will tell you what to do.
  3. This is the basic change to how people work under Agile: a world of employees is transformed into a world of professionals.
  4. And the basic challenge this offers to organisations is not whether ort not Agile ‘works’ but whether filling your organisation with professionals is compatible with hierarchical, command-and-control systems, organisation & management.
  5. This is a critical issue, because where the basic ‘transaction’ in command-and-control hierarchy is tell, the basic transaction in a professional organisation is ask.
  6. And the basic risk in a professional organisation is that the person you ask will say No.
  7. In short, in a command-and-control hierarchy, authority lies with whoever is more senior. In a professional organisation, it lies with whoever has the necessary expertise – not only to decide how something should be done but also whether it should be done at all.
  8. So: before implementing Agile, ask two questions.
    1. Can I give up my authority over ‘junior’ people because I know that sometimes (often?) they know better than me?
    2. Have I already created an organisation in which people are afraid to say No to the boss?
  9. If you want a clue to the likely answer, ask yourself if you have ever said flat-out No to your boss, based on nothing more than your confidence that you were right.
  10. So – don’t even think about implementing Agile until you can answer both these questions – and know what to do about the answer.

By |2018-05-14T16:15:52+00:00Friday, May 11 2018|Categories: Agile, Change, Empowerment, Implementation, Leadership, Principles, Resourcing, Stakeholders, Users|0 Comments

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