I would like to take a closer look at a challenge this is currently maturing and getting ready to dramatically interfere with our everyday life and that many people still have never heard of. It is about what I call the “falsification of everything in (digital) media”, i.e. disruption of the authenticity we generally grant (or used to grant) to the media.
I have been reading and sharing lots of news and insights into China and the country’s way of digital transformation recently. First, it’s simply exciting to see what’s happening in China when it comes to digital innovation. There’s a never ending stream of new products, services and, that’s most remarkable – since it is nowadays unique and bred locally – new digital use cases, life styles and ways of integrating technology into every day life.
But secondly, I do have my strong concerns when it comes to top notch digital innovation driven by a country that is an autocracy without a humanistic agenda. Here’s an example:
When it comes to introducing and implementing agile work methodologies, especially in the enterprise context, I often come across a phenomena that could be called ‘the agile cloud of mixing up tools with mindset’. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when people who are new to agile methodologies, get excited and start ‘living’ and ‘working’ embracing agile change. It is en vogue to say ‘we’re agile’ or ‘I’m agile in my workplace’.
Often it looks something like this:
I believe it is crucial for everyone, also and especially for leaders in a transitioning organization, to be aware of how how all of this relates to each other and that there is a coherent and cascading methodology of how it all builds on top of each other. Most of the things you hear from people new to the world of agile can usually be grouped into categories of frameworks & tools. Something like this:
These are key frameworks and tools that members of an agile organization should leverage, but I cannot stress enough that underneath these lies a foundation without which an agile transition is doomed for failure. It is simply not enough to rush everyone through SCRUM methodology crash courses or tell them to which ‘squad’ they belong or send them to a Design Thinking challenge workshop or something comparable.
It is paramount to build and foster the mindset foundation for the organization and its members to have the chance to master their agile transition. Nothing will work if the mindset level is not seen as the foundation of all agile success. In the greater context, it looks like this:
A true agile mindset as well as an organizational environment consists of a firm values & principles based cultural foundation. Values like transparency, openness, respect, courage and self-commitment are the precondition for a successful introduction of principles like self-organization, customer-centricity, learning culture and of course a failure culture.
But how do we drive and foster the right mindset development?
So we need to ensure that as a fundamental pillar of agile transformation we foster the mindset and culture layer as a top priority. But how? What are key ingredients for making success far more likely than failure? Many agile practitioners use the term ‘agile mindset’ without really being able to define it. In my view and experience, this here is a good list to start with and pick from. These are key ingredients to help develop agile mindsets, to help efforts in an agile transition flourish:
- Put into the center of every action the goal to create an environment of stability and security. These are emotionally comprehensible and perceptible for everyone – so a lack of it weighs heavily. It is extremely important for employees to recognize the healthy human feeling of emotional security.
- Provide constant, tangible, specific and actionable feedback and guidance to employees.
- Create a workplace that does not penalize people for being creative, but one that supports them in living their creativity. These can be inspiring environments, space for spontaneous meetings, for break-out sessions, tools for creativity, flexibility to change locations, to name only a few.
- Encourage open communication. And do not stigmatizing failure. Do not punish for ‘you took a wrong decision’ (at least when there is no repeating pattern). Talk about own failure, own ‘fuck ups’. Foster openness about failure at all levels (individual, departmental, managerial, etc.). This has to start with you! Be open and focus on what you learned as a result of the failure.
- Ensure opportunities for employees to share their ideas and thoughts about the most effective ways to get their work done. Encourage grass-root initiatives for insights sharing. Foster bar camps and sharing events, inspirational talks and key notes, etc.
- Encourage teams to apply agile concepts by experimenting with tools and activities that eliminate hindering processes and generate better solutions. For example, promote agile work sessions that ensure everyone in the room has a voice.
- Empower in particular intrinsically motivated people to be the initial drivers. Incentivize and support such agile first movers. It helps you apply a ‘you don’t push it, but they will pull it’ logic. The goal is for people to start doing, start trying and create a gravitational field that will pull in more people.
- Foster diversity and make sure that when putting teams together diversity is a key criteria.
- Nurture the thirst for knowledge by offering learning opportunities and creating space for constant personal development (not being restrictive on training desires, creating space/time for ‘staying-in-the-know’ activities like reading, lectures, events, etc.)
- Open up thinking to delegate responsibility. Encourage self-direction for teams to unleash innovation, instead of concentrating decision-making in the hands of a select few. “Let go” and grant trust.
- Foster exchange with other companies and organizations to share insights from their own transition, highlights, but also low-lights. Have external people come in and talk about their experiences, their way, their success, their failures and tips.
- Make sure you put the right leaders and managers from your source organization into the right spots of the transformed agile organization. Measure executives and leaders with criteria that focus on employee satisfaction around the agile transition. Focus is to foster supportive leadership (watch out for command and control and eliminate if you still find it). Let’s be honest: the role of management is to create a framework for good cooperation, period.
- Chose existing or hire new leaders who have a clear commitment to agile principles and who are able to be role models in an authentic way. No one has to be perfect in the execution – but everyone must be authentic in their commitment to driving the change and respecting agile principles.
- Make sure that in the center of change related communications are the reasons for the proposed change. That must be carried over clearly and consistently, in terms that address the needs of the team.
- Aim to deliver quick wins in the beginning. For sure, the big picture with all its diverse facets is important, but equally important is the benefit of success stories that especially help drive motivation of skeptical or cynical team members.
- Take a critical look at existing patterns of behavior. Eliminate elements that support competition over teamwork, that favor hoarding information over sharing, that aim at indirect communication over direct communication.
- Contextualize cultural and organisational/structural approaches to your environment and specifics. Simply ironing something over, superficially, without reflexion and potential adaptation, will not do the job.
- In the same fashion like agile methods are aimed to be carried out, namely in small and manageable increments, the introduction of this very change should also follow this principle. A start with some positively minded individuals and motivated teams as a pilot makes sense in order to gain experience and to be able to make adjustments if necessary. Fight the tendency to build it perfectly.
- Be cautious with ‘selling’ everything under the ‘agile’ term. For some people, imposing or over-emphasizing a name with the potential to win the ‘buzzword of the year” trophy can be an inhibitor. It could strengthen a push-back reflex of “I’m sure I will survive this hype here, too”.
- Trust your employees and use their sense for the business. Some key working level employees oftentimes have more sense of urgency and are more realistic about changing working environments than middle management. The latter tends to see themselves and the company quite well positioned while the people right in the heart of the business know what’s really going on.
- Get outside coaching earlier rather than later.
I know, this is a long list. But in my view it cannot be long enough. We should not sit still when it comes to supporting and tweaking initiatives that help us strengthen an agile mindset as a firm foundation for the transition. I hope you find some inspiration for things you can push and support in your company.
Pressure without vision kills – authenticity & inspiration wins!
And always keep in mind: a mindset change cannot succeed by shouting to people “we have to move now and if you don’t make it, then these bad thing will happen…”. Because first and foremost, this will only mobilize fear with people reacting by concentrating on their fears, getting paralyzed and not empowered as a result.
Being honest and authentic is key. A successful transition to an agile organization isn’t an easy challenge and it is often times a bumpy road that requires endurance, patience and confidence to overcome the mindset of hierarchies, formal power, micromanagement and command & control and resulting creativity anxiety. But it is worth it!
To close this, here is a gem that sticks in my head. Happened in a design thinking training run by one of my valued colleagues. Let’s make sure this is a thing of the past from now on 🙂
Read on LinkedIn Pulse
Read on Medium
I don’t know how you feel about this, but “agility” surely has become one of the management buzzwords of the recent years. That is not so surprising indeed. In particular, technologically driven change puts a lot of pressure on companies to become faster if they want to hold their ground in a rapidly changing environment.
Therefore, the trend has arrived also in the big companies and corporate organizations some years ago. And, not really surprising, many of them are rather unsuccessful in trying to implement those agile structures. Continue reading “Why do big and established companies struggle so much with agile work and culture?”
I guess by now we have all heard of the very controversial Google Duplex demonstration at Google I/O 2018, where a human-voice synthesized bot called several local businesses and was able to interact with humans who had no idea they were talking to a machine. Many of us are fascinated by the technological progress that could be witnessed. A part of me was fascinated just like that. But to me the real fascinating discussion is about ethics, specifically AI ethics that come along with approaches like Duplex. Continue reading “What is the key learning from Google Duplex? Digital Responsibility needed more than ever before…”
I guess by now we’re are all through with reading each and every article and opinion, every point of view and interpretation about the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Yes, there is an overwhelming sentiment that – in my opinion – goes into the right direction. What has happened is wrong, is to a large degree founded in an ill-directed system of data exploitation and must be stopped. On the web, you find this opinion in softer and stronger flavors, but there does not seem to be doubt that we need some decisive readjustment. Maybe the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal was the much-needed catalyst to allow for more thorough reflection where we allow ourselves to work with a healthy degree of skepticism about where technology and technological progress have led us in the last 25 years of the internet. Continue reading “Hey #techworkers: stop being too “googly” and put some more #digitalresponsibility on your plate! My gist from the #facebookdebacle”
One of the topics that is inevitably tied to the big digital transformation themes like AI, machine learning, robotics and digital transformation in general is the universal basic income (let’s call it UBI from here). Like it or not, it’s worthwhile considering which tools, mechanisms and concepts need to be adapted or created when this massive transformation will roll over us. I believe it would be naive not to assume that our political economy, and governance will desperately need new design patterns as we enter this new phase of the digital revolution. Continue reading “The Universal Basic Income discussion is not pointless. Period. (André Cramer)”
Over the last months and especially culminating in the last days, it was hard to avoid the bitcoin topic. Climbing to insane heights, bitcoin has passed even the keenest expectations regarding “value” that many of us had. The price has crossed the $15k mark for the first time this week.
Although I do see a bright future for cryptocurrencies, for me the key value lies in the potential it has in enabling us to create a fundamentally new financial system. From a speculators point of view I do believe that what we currently see is mostly based on the greater fool theory (“I will buy Bitcoin because others will hype it even more”). Continue reading “Are you aware of the insane Energy Consumption for Bitcoin Creation that is ahead of us? Soon to hit a hard wall…”
My five cents on the „krack“ Wi-Fi / WPA2 security issue that is now slowly but steadily getting out of focus again. This is a classic “Internet of Things”, or “Internet of crappy Things” topic that I have written about before.
It is highly questionable if “krack” will ever really disappear; in a sense that it will be patched and fixed thoroughly so that no one has to worry about it anymore. Yes, a variety of providers of affected software and hardware have announced or even distributed such patches. But when it comes to the long tail of Wi-Fi enabled Internet of Things, smart home or whatever kind of connected devices, it would be naïve not to Continue reading ““Krack” is exactly that kind of thing bringing us closer to the “Internet of crappy Things” armageddon”
Last week I stepped on a piece of news with yet another story about the voice-driven assistance services which have gained so much traction recently: “Mozilla is crowdsourcing voice recognition to make AI work for the people“. I have been an enthusiastic Alexa user myself right from the start. I believe voice-based assistance services, voice-based human-computer interaction, in general, have a bright future. At least bright in terms of a sharp surge in usage and a myriad of use cases that bring benefits to most consumers and businesses. Continue reading “How Mozilla’s Common Voice Project bubbled up my very own 2013 AI- & Voice-Assistance Services Ideation again (André Cramer)”
Over the course of the last weeks and months you couldn’t escape news and stories about messaging platforms going after B2C use cases à la “order me some food”, “book me a hotel room” or “I need a ride downtown in 30 minutes”.
Pioneered and taken to huge success in Asia by platforms like Weixin/WeChat, LINE and Kakao, especially Facebook with its two behemoth platforms Messenger and WhatsApp is taking decisive actions to bring businesses and consumers together on their platforms. Kik is even faster, having just launched such a botstore for brands. In their launch line-up are 18 well-known brands such as Sephora, H&M or The Weather Channel. And with these moves, communications platforms will tap into significant revenue streams in the form of rev shares and commissions for being the facilitator between businesses and consumers in everyday Transactions.
Continue reading “AI is absolutely essential for the Messaging Platform Business Model to take over the World (of B2C) (André Cramer)”
When reading about future, and specifically in this context, near-term future predictions, you often get a conservative impression. It seems people mostly see the future like a slightly enhanced version of the present. People tend to think that the big and significant societal transformation either has already taken place or will happen in a more distant future.
In my opinion things are quite a bit different. The world will be changing much faster than the majority of people imagine today. There is a high probability that technology will change the world and our immediate life conditions faster than ever before within the next ten years. There are some technologies on the agenda with the potential to render the world pretty much unrecognizable compared to today. Continue reading “Virtual Reality will have a massive Impact on us already within the next Decade (Andre Cramer)”
Here’s the new edition of my “Fav 4”, edition 42. My favorite and most noteworthy tech & innovation news bites of the last week. 4 updates in an easy to consume video format. Enjoy!
Here’s the new edition of my “Fav 4”, edition 41. My favorite and most noteworthy tech & innovation news bites of the last week. 4 updates in an easy to consume video format. Enjoy!
Here’s the new edition of my “Fav 4”, edition 40. My favorite and most noteworthy tech & innovation news bites of the last week. 4 updates in an easy to consume video format. Enjoy!
Here’s the new edition of my “Fav 4”, edition 39. My favorite and most noteworthy tech & innovation news bites of the last week. 4 updates in an easy to consume video format. Enjoy!
Here’s the new edition of my “Fav 4”, edition 38. My favorite and most noteworthy tech & innovation news bites of the last week. 4 updates in an easy to consume video format. Enjoy!
Here’s the new edition of my “Fav 4”, edition 37. My favorite and most noteworthy tech & innovation news bites of the last week. 4 updates in an easy to consume video format. Enjoy!
Here’s the new edition of my “Fav 4”, edition 36. My favorite and most noteworthy tech & innovation news bites of the last week. 4 updates in an easy to consume video format. Enjoy!
Here’s the new edition of my “Fav 4”, edition 35. My favorite and most noteworthy tech & innovation news bites of the last week. 4 updates in an easy to consume video format. Enjoy!Continue reading “The Fav 4 – Tech & Innovation News Bites Edition 35 (Nike sneaker innovation, Amazon delivery robots, Tesla remote control, Google/Fossil smartwatches)”