Consultants, Certificates and Conferences: Let’s Try Something Else

Few people are incentivized to speed up change, continuous learning is rarely validated, and the feedback cycles between authors and users are long and slow, or absent.

Companies are scared and confused. They need to adapt faster. Evolve faster. Innovate faster! But how?

In the global agile community, we see three main categories of helpful services.

Coaches and Consultants

Thousands of experts make a good living offering advice to companies. The problem is that they usually get paid by the hour. The longer they can stretch a profitable business relationship, the better. And long client engagements are often necessary because the consultants don’t make the decisions. Actual organizational changes must be made by managers and employees. And they are usually reluctant to do what is needed for fear of uncertainty. In other words, nobody is incentivized to speed up the pace of change.

Training and Certificates

With the best intentions, many training organizations offer one-day or two-day workshops to organizations, teaching their employees how to drive organizational change. Legions of employees have been sent to all kinds of classes to learn how to be lean and agile. The problem is that most training is focused on knowledge transfer. This is exemplified by the fact that many certificate schemes mostly just verify that people have the correct knowledge in their heads. In other words, continuous learning and improvement are not validated.

Books and Conferences

I do my best as a writer of books and as a speaker at events. And it makes me happy whenever people tell me that they’ve experimented with an idea or two at their companies. But I get paid for the number of books that I sell and the number of events where I’m hired to be inspirational (and controversial). Whether my suggestions actually work, for the companies that are paying me to hear them, remains untested. In other words, there is no feedback cycle between the creators and users of ideas.

Let’s Divide the Work

I’m not saying that there is no value in coaching, training, or books and events. On the contrary! With Management 3.0, I believe I made a fine contribution to the agile community worldwide. But I can just look around me to see that progress is slow. The results are certainly not earth shattering!

Maybe organizations don’t change because our approaches don’t evolve?

Services such as consultancy, certification, and conferences are based on business models that have been around for decades. In 50 years of business improvements, few people were incentivized to speed up change, continuous learning was rarely validated, and the feedback cycles between authors and users are long and slow, or absent.

When methods are not as effective as we had hoped, should we improve them? Or should we try something else? I say we do both: Improve what is working and also try something else.

You know what? Let’s divide the work and join the outcomes!

You focus on improving what you’re doing now, and I will focus on something else.

Photo credits: © 2015 Dragan (CC BY 2.0)

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