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Human Systems: The Deception of Training


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Agile has become a set of principles that companies ignore at their peril. After all, what CEO would admit his/her company is "not Agile?" Yet we frequently bemoan the difficulty of using these principles to "be Agile", instead relying on Agile-like practices that fail to change the status quo. Therefore, as we enter the next generation of business thinking, we meet a critical challenge: how can we learn to adjust to our behaviors, at all levels of a company, to successfully navigate the complexity of human systems?

One answer is training - and one that we most often select to drive our Agile transformations. Is training the best method to cause a change in behaviors? In this interactive session with Zach Bonaker, you will experience activities that engage both mind and body to reveal the essence of systems thinking. Additionally, Zach will emphasize cause and effect relationships in a system, specifically, how Agile-related training might result in unintended consequences!

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Human Systems: The Deception of Training

  1. 1. Human Systems The Deception of Training
  2. 2. @zachbonaker Zach Bonaker
  3. 3. #ScrumDaySD2016 @zachbonaker
  4. 4. System of Profound Knowledge (W. Edwards Deming) 1. Appreciation for a system. 2. Knowledge of variation. 3. Theory of knowledge. 4. Psychology. @zachbonaker
  5. 5. @zachbonaker
  6. 6. @zachbonaker
  7. 7. @zachbonaker
  8. 8. Is your team or organization behaving according to Agile principles? How many have received Agile-related training? @zachbonaker
  9. 9. @zachbonaker
  10. 10. This is uncomfortable. @zachbonaker
  11. 11. We’re most comfortable with reductionist thinking. Dr. Russell Ackoff 1. Take the thing apart. 2. Attempt to understand what the parts do. 3. Assemble an understanding of the parts into an understanding of the whole. @zachbonaker
  12. 12. @zachbonaker
  13. 13. @zachbonaker
  14. 14. @zachbonaker “Systems thinking is a broad term used to represent a set of methods and tools that focus on systems--rather than parts--as the context for defining and solving complex problems, and for fostering more effective learning and design.” – The Systems Thinking Playbook (Sweeney & Meadows)
  15. 15. A system is: “A set of interrelated or interacting elements.” According to ISO 9000:2015 (“Fundamentals of Quality Management Systems”) @zachbonaker
  16. 16. “A system is a whole, that consists of parts, each of which can affect its behaviors or properties.” (Ackoff, 1994) “A series of functions or activities within an organization that work together for the aim of the organization.” Deming W. Edwards (1994) The New Economics for industry, government and education. Second Edition MIT Press “A set of variables that influence one another.” Senge Peter M (2006) The Fifth Discipline, The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. Random House @zachbonaker
  17. 17. Cause & Effect Loop Dynamic, Unbound, Variable Nouns, Variables, Results Changing a variable causes a change to at least one other variable @zachbonaker
  18. 18. Let’s experience a human system together! @zachbonaker
  19. 19. Scrum requires collaboration and feedback loops! Be ONE FOOT away, instead! @zachbonaker
  20. 20. The Human System v2.0 @zachbonaker
  21. 21. @zachbonaker An “avalanche” of unintended consequences
  22. 22. @zachbonaker
  23. 23. “Analysis” is everywhere. • Our companies are broken into functional parts. • Our educational system doesn’t teach the field, it teaches the parts. • Our Scrum training doesn’t guide people on becoming an Agile software company with Scrum; we teach the parts of Scrum. @zachbonaker
  24. 24. “Command-and-control managers like to buy change by training and projects, unaware that change really requires changing the system.” --John Seddon @zachbonaker
  25. 25. Lewin’s Equation (1936) What about training causes a change in behavior? @zachbonaker
  26. 26. Let’s bring systems thinking to the table! “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” … “If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?” @zachbonaker
  27. 27. @zachbonaker Content in this talk was highly influenced by (i.e., “recommended reading”): • Peter Senge: The Fifth Discipline, The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization • W. Edwards Deming: The New Economics for Industry, Government and Education • W. Edwards Deming: Out of the Crisis • Russell Ackoff & Herbert Addison: Systems Thinking for Curious Managers • Linda Sweeney & Dennis Meadows: The Systems Thinking Playbook • Donella Meadows: Thinking in Systems: A Primer