Last night I was at our annual VINT symposium in Bussum in the Netherlands. The topic was “unorganized” and a good number of speakers told us about the developments in IT and how unorganization is a part of that.
Thinking how to apply this, I got inspired from the speakers and my colleagues Menno and Sander.
Many of the things I saw last night, are topics I have used to explain to people why Agile is such an important development in the ways we look at problems. It is not new that technology and market developments have sped up in the past decades; and we must change our way of thinking and innovation to keep up.
Wait…ways of innovation? Is there another way of innovating? Maybe not innovation itself needs to change, and you cannot speed up the way people innovate, can you?
Well, we can increase the environment we are in to be inspirational. We can help people to think “out-of-the-box” to be able to come up with solutions to problems we may have been unaware of before. etc. Step out of organized Research and Development and into consumer world to experience the developments and needs of our users.
Another aspect that was mentioned was Fail-fast. This is something the Agile world has been using as focus for a long time. Agile methodologies and frameworks help organizations to fail fast. And the emphasis needs to be on Fast, not on Fail. We do not help them to fail, we help them to fail Fast so they learn quicker.
One of the most inspirational speakers was Erben Wennemars, an ice-skater who has won numerous world championships and took us along in a story about his journey in ice-skating. His story I found very fitting with the topic of the symposium, even though he claimed to not know much about our work.
He has dealt with many things during his career as ice skater. One of the most important things he mentioned was that top-class athletes need goals and passion. They need to translate those into a vision for themselves and they need to work hard to achieve those goals. They need to go to the brink and beyond to be the best and to win.
This helped me realize that unorganization is part of a learning curve. We need to fall, or at least need to experience unorganization to be able to deal with it in the future. The way a seasoned traveller knows how to deal with missing a connection without panicking. The way veteran fighters are more effective in a war after having seen more than just one battle. The way Wolff’s law (bones heal up stronger) is applied in breaking – a martial arts skill where hard materials are broken with bare fists, elbows, etc.
Many experienced entrepreneurs can be found among those who have failed businesses in their past. For example, using numbers mentioned yesterday, 80% of startups fail. Does failing make YOU a failure? Or does it make you stronger?
I believe that we can use unorganization to help our company get stronger. This does not mean we need to fail; this means we need to learn from failure or potential failure. We can use unorganization to help our professionals learn and get stronger. The way in “The Phoenix Project” John the security officer used “Evil Chaos Monkey” to help the company to overcome the problems that could occur if external agencies (hackers, criminals) exploit the holes and cracks in your system.
As I referred to Cynefin in my previous blog, the Chaos domain is to be avoided. We do not want to find ourselves in a situation where we need to apply novel practices to survive. But those who did survive have learned valuable lessons to get out of this domain. I believe by skirting the edge of Chaos we can become better. We can bring organization to unorganization and WIN.