Why I wrote this book
The more it changes, the more it’s the same thing. Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Kerr (1849)
In “Unlimited Wealth”, Paul Pilzner posited that wealth equals physical resources multiplied by technology (including information) raised to the nth power where ‘n’ is the effects of the technological advances. The industrial age brought in great advancements because it greatly increased the technology available. But the industrial age is still one of a zero-sum game. A zero sum game occurs when there is a transfer of wealth from one person to the other but the net wealth remains the same. For example, a person may buy a stereo from a store and the person now has a stereo and the store has some money but the net wealth of the two entities remains the same.
The information Age shuffled in yet another major wealth creating potential. For the first time we didn’t need to be enmeshed in a zero-sum game. Wealth can be multiplied in every transaction. If one company has information of value and provides it to another company, now both companies have the information. While the industrial age enable us to create wealth faster by leveraging human physical strength, the information age allows us to create wealth through sharing it. With artificial intelligence, information is now being created from information itself.
The potential now is advancing the state of technology. Fortunately, how to do this is already known. The question is not creating new methods but taking existing ones and enabling organizations to apply them.
Creating Unlimited Wealth
This sounds a bit ungrounded. But consider this- we all know that our development methods are well below capacity. Software touches all aspects of our society now. Entirely new ways of working, more effective and efficient ways, have been created by using software and the information it can channel. If we were able to double the creation of value across the board, the resulting wealth created would be enormous.
This is no pipedream. The ability to do this is present in today’s technology. But it requires taking a step further than Agile has. Agile has shown that empowering people having them work together as semi-autonomous, self-organizing teams is very powerful. But this requires a major shift from Agile’s focus on the team. Many of our current methods attempt to take team focused methods and apply them to the organization. But the dynamics of teams is different than the dynamics of an organization. In the same way the forces between electrons and protons is different than the forces between different types of atoms, the dynamics within teams is not the same as the dynamics between teams.
Agile has propelled our world into great advancements by showing us how to transform teams. But the next stage, transformation of organizations, will be both more beneficial as well as more difficult. Doing so will require three major changes.
The first is transforming the role of both leadership and management. Leadership is no longer just about creating a vision and direction for determining what products and services to provide. Management’s role is both no longer the old-school management of directing teams to manifest this vision, nor is it Agile’s relegation of managers to servant leaders, putting the teams in charge. Leadership must now be committed to the quality of the organization so that management can create an environment within which the “Team-of-Teams” concept can manifest itself.
The existence of many books on leadership and managements new role demonstrate that how to do this is well known. These books include Karmic Inc, Joy Inc, Turn the Ship Around, Team of Teams, The Inside-Out Effect, The Lean Strategy, to name a few.
The second requires improving the development capabilities of organizations to include the entire process of potential value identification, to development and through realization of value by the customers. How to do this is both pretty well known now and, unfortunately, not very widespread. Again, the existence of how to do this is demonstrated by such books as Joy Inc, The Lean Strategy, The Goal, The Choice, Principles of Product Development Flow, The Lean Startup, Project to Product, Lean UX, Design Patterns Explained, to name a few. these is the primary domain of this book.
The third is providing the detailed methods that the above two will designate is required. In other words, having great leadership and management and understanding what needs to be accomplished is still insufficient if you don’t understand the specific practices that should be done that work in your situation. This is the domain of Disciplined Agile. There are even more books that demonstrate different practices that work in different situations.
Although enough pieces are there to enable us to make this great shift, the challenge of combining them is very complex. It has been well-established that organizations are what is known as complex adaptive systems (CAS). A complex adaptive system is a system in which a perfect understanding of the individual parts does not automatically convey a perfect understanding of the whole system’s behavior. This means one can’t be certain what a change in one part of the system will have on another. But this doesn’t mean that cause and effect doesn’t exist for the system as a whole.
The Purpose for This Book
This book presents not just the FLEX approach to manifesting value, but also how it fits into the Brightline and Disciplined Agile triad where leadership/management, understanding and decision making come together.
This is just the beginning of the acknowledgements. I owe a great deal to many people. However, unlike Isaac Newton’s statement “If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants.” I often feel like I am standing on their ankles. I know I have left much of their knowledge out. Many people read acknowledgements as a means of identifying people who have had an affect on writers and therefore use this as a method for identifying further reading. This set of acknowledgements is not intended for that. Many of those people who helped me on my way I disagree with their work. But I am still thankful for their contribution to me. I will have a resource for further investigation by the reader later in the book.