How We Can Solve the Mounting Conflicts between Traditional and Agile Best Practices | Part 4/5

The missing word

When we look at the level of working practices instead of best practices, it turns out that those of the left column are about predictable situations, and those of the right column are about difficult-to-predict situations. Predictability is the missing word. It was published in 2011 in Management 3.0 by Jurgen Apello as an addition to popular models for dealing with complexity. It turned out, this was nicely in line with the changeable root cause of crippling bureaucracy and overwhelming complexity:

The changeable root cause of crippling bureaucracy and overwhelming complexity

Following is the root cause of  crippling bureaucracy and overwhelming complexity:

Continuously applying working practices for predictable situations (left column) to difficult-to-predict situations. 

From a certain level of complexity, this makes costs, effort and time needs grow exponentially until a further increase is no longer affordable. Following is an illustration of this challenge:

Is your organisation’s position close to the maximum? In that case and for as long as the working practices of the left column dominate, improvement initiatives are bound to move the organisation further to the right on the S-curve. Ongoing cost-savings pressures, burnouts and layoffs of productive employees can be expected to worsen. In such a situation, a transformation to new best practices may be started.

In this situation, the working practices of the left column have been integrated into processes, policies, IT applications, courses, certificates and the like. This is why transformation initiatives are confronted with an insurmountable amount of obstacles. Such initiatives may work well at the team level. However, extending them to the department level or to the enterprise level is a different ball game. It easily moves such initiatives beyond the tipping point of the illustration above. To make transformation projects executable and larger organisations deliver to the agility needs of today’s world, this conflict must be solved. 

This brings us to a simple solution.