Connecting the Dots: Operational Excellence, Strategic Freedom and the Pursuit of Passion
My recent post The Headlong Pursuit of Growth, and Its Aftermath applied insights from Toyota Motor Corporation to Agile methods. Among various lessons to be learned, the post highlighted the relationship between mechanism and policy:
Just like the Toyota Production System, your software method is a “vehicle” which is subject to policy decisions from above. It cannot, however, compensate for policy failures.
In other words, operational excellence in Agile methods is not a substitute for strategy/policy. It does not confer strategic freedom.
In another recent post – I Found My Voice; I did not Find My Tribe – the vicious cycle that leads to loss of passionate Agile talent was described as follows:
This “1.5” phenomenon is at the root of a vicious cycle that dilutes companies, particularly these days:
- A round of layoffs is implemented.
- Just about everyone takes notice and tries to exhibit the “proper behavior/values.”
- Folks in the “private tribe” don’t dare come out of the closet.
- The passionate person who found his/her voice in Agile is like a fish out of the water. Sooner or later he/she looks for a tribe elsewhere.
- The company becomes more diluted on folks who are willing to try new things and have the drive to make them happen.
- The products and the supporting processes continue to be mediocre.
- Goto step 1.
Reading the article Getting Toyota Out of Reverse, published in the December 18 issue of BusinessWeek, I found a fascinating linkage between the two posts:
“They say that young people are moving away from cars,” Toyoda said. “But surely it is us—the automakers—who have abandoned our passion for cars.”
One had better take notice when the president of Toyota speaks of the effects of loss of passion using phrases like “irrelevance or death” and “grasping for salvation”.