Keynote Slide Delivery at the Last Responsible Moment

Today I addressed a 300 person audience with a keynote at Ericsson’s Agile conference in Finland. I was invited to talk about personal development, communication, and organizational structure, using one of my more popular presentations: The Big-Ass View on Competence (and Communication).

Some of my main points were:

  1. Allow Agile teams to form an internal market of value units who consume each other’s services;
  2. A big organization should be scaled in a fractal way by making it look like small ones at all levels;
  3. Use personal communication networks as the guiding principle for organizational design.

Now, I gave Ericsson’s conference organizers a hard time because they had been asking several times to receive a copy of my slides. And I told them repeatedly I wanted to wait until the Last Responsible Moment.

The value of deferring decisions and late commitment proved itself last night, when I was reading the book The Interaction of Complexity and Management (which I encourage everyone interested in complexity theory to read because it is very inspiring).

In that book I found the following fragment:

Insofar as the business environment is becoming more complex, firms will need to […] shift away from bureaucracies and toward […] internal competition (markets), the need for the large firm to behave as a small one (fiefs), and the importance of interpersonal networking (clans).

– Max Boisot, “Complexity and the I-Space”,
The Interaction of Complexity and Management

This quote is the conclusion of complexity research, where survival of adaptive systems in increasingly complex environments was modeled and simulated with computers. Nothing in the book referred to Agile software development. And yet, the conclusion is exactly the same as mine.

It was the perfect quote to end my presentation, and to kick off a conference organized by a big organization which is transforming to be Agile all through the enterprise.

And because I added the quote to my slides only hours before the talk, it nicely proved that it pays to deliver slides to conference organizers only at the last responsible moment… which is about 1 minute before I go on stage!

p.s. My thanks to Ericsson for the invitation to their conference, which was, as it turns out, very well organized. 🙂

(Jurgen Appelo is author of Management 3.0, a best-selling management book for Agile developers. It has a picture of a monster in it.)

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