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HBR:: Why Organizations Don't Learn

A nice article on HBR - "Why Organizations Don't Learn", by Francesca Gino and Bradley Staats; take a look.

They list these reasons:
  • Fear of failure
  • Fixed mindset
  • Over reliance on past performance
  • Attribution bias
The authors then give some strategies for overcoming these reasons for the lack of learning.  Many of these will be familiar to the agile community.

Who else has studied organization failure?  Well I've heard that many academics have studied the failure modes of organizations.  One was John Kotter's 8 Steps model developed by studying the failure modes of organizations trying to institute large scale changes.  Other's have studied how successful large mergers have been after the fact (some would suggest it's on the order of 20% successful).  Some have studied how successful large software development project have been (Chaos Report - it is not a good report).

So what does your leader do to encourage learning at the organizational level?  Is failure even allowed in your department?  If so then it will be discussed and talked about in formal settings and acknowledged by leaders, rather than only around the dark stairways and in hushed tones.

Leader's drive FEAR out of the room!

How To Ask Good Questions: David Stork at TEDxStanleyPark

Dr. David G. Stork is Distinguished Research Scientist and Research Director at Rambus Labs
Sometimes posing a good question is more important than answering a good question. Some unsolved questions—in science, philosophy, mathematics, humanities—are properly judged to be "better" than others, so we should consider how those questions arose and explore how best to guide ourselves to posing such world-class questions. This presentation explores why the act of posing good questions has been, for the most part, neglected by scholars and the general public alike and what we should do about it. There is a range of types of questions, each with optimal strategies for posing and now is the time for a call to arms for educators, researchers, technologists, and business leaders to explore the hows and whys of asking good questions.


See Also:
Pitfalls of Agile Transformations by Mary Poppendieck
Knut Haanaes - Two reasons companies fail - TED Talk AND how to avoid them:  Exploration and Exploitation

4 Questions Smart Leaders Always Ask Employees to Improve Their Performance
They're also great for fostering open dialog and developing meaningful work relationships.

End of nations: Is there an alternative to countries?  Nation states cause some of our biggest problems, from civil war to climate inaction. Science suggests there are better ways to run a planet.
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David's notes on "Drive"

- "The Surprising Truth about what Motivates Us" by Dan Pink.

Amazon book order
What I notice first and really like is the subtle implication in the shadow of the "i" in Drive is a person taking one step in a running motion.  This brings to mind the old saying - "there is no I in TEAM".  There is however a ME in TEAM, and there is an I in DRIVE.  And when one talks about motivating a team or an individual - it all starts with - what's in it for me.

Introduction

Pink starts with an early experiment with monkeys on problem solving.  Seems the monkeys were much better problem solver's than the scientist thought they should be.  This 1949 experiment is explained as the early understanding of motivation.  At the time there were two main drivers of motivation:  biological & external influences.  Harry F. Harlow defines the third drive in a novel theory:  "The performance of the task provided intrinsic reward" (p 3).  This is Dan Pink's M…

What is your Engagement Model?

What must an Agile Transformation initiative have to be reasonably assured of success?

We "change agents" or Agilist, or Organizational Development peeps, or Trouble Makers, or Agile Coaches have been at this for nearly two decades now... one would think we have some idea of the prerequisites for one of these Transformations to actually occur.  Wonder if eight Agile Coaches in a group could come up with ONE list of necessary and sufficient conditions - an interesting experiment.  Will that list contain an "engagement model"?  I venture to assert that it will not.  When asked very few Agile Coaches, thought leaders, and change agents mention much about employee engagement in their plans, models, and "frameworks".  Stop and ask yourselves ... why?

Now good Organizational Development peeps know this is crucial, so I purposely omitted them from that list to query.

One, central very important aspect of your Agile Transformation will be your Engagement model.  

Exercise:: Definition of Ready & Done

Assuming you are on a Scrum/Agile software development team, then one of the first 'working agreements' you have created with your team is a 'Definition of Done' - right?



Oh - you don't have a definition of what aspects a user story that is done will exhibit. Well then, you need to create a list of attributes of a done story. One way to do this would be to Google 'definition of done' ... here let me do that for you: http://tinyurl.com/3br9o6n. Then you could just use someone else's definition - there DONE!

But that would be cheating -- right? It is not the artifact - the list of done criteria, that is important for your team - it is the act of doing it for themselves, it is that shared understanding of having a debate over some of the gray areas that create a true working agreement. If some of the team believes that a story being done means that there can be no bugs found in the code - but some believe that there can be some minor issues - well, …

Refactoring - examples from the book

Martin Fowler's book Refactoring:  Improving the Design of Existing Code has a simple example of a movie rental domain model, which he refactors from a less than ideal object-oriented design to a more robust OO design. Included in this Refactoring_FirstExample.zip Zip file are the Java source code files of the Movie, Rental, and Customer classes. Along with a JUnit CustomerTest class. Using these example source files you too can follow along with the refactoring that Fowler presents in the first few chapters of his book.


Metrics for a Scrum Team (examples)

What metrics do you collect to analyze your scrum team?

We live in a world of data and information.  Some people have a mindset that numbers will diagnose all problems – “just show me the data.”  Therefore many directors and senior managers wish to see some list of metrics that should indicate the productivity and efficiency of the Scrum team.  I personally believe this is something that can be felt, that human intuition is much better in this decision realm than the data that can be collected.  However, one would have to actually spend time and carefully observe the team in action to get this powerful connection to the energy in a high-performing team space.  Few leaders are willing to take this time, they delegate this information synthesis task to managers via the typical report/dashboard request.  Therefore we are asked to collect data, to condense this data into information, all while ignoring the intangible obvious signals (read Honest Signals by Sandy Pentland of MIT).
What if …