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So you say you want 
a Revolution ? 
Evolving Agile 
Authority 
Agile CultureCon 2014 
Harold Shinsato 
@hajush
au·thor·i·ty 
noun ə-ˈthär-ə-tē, ȯ-, -ˈthȯr- 
- the power to give orders or 
make decisions 
- the power or right to direct or 
control someone or something
Keith Johnstone
au·thor 
noun ˈȯ-thər 
- a person who has written something; 
especially : a person who has written a book 
or who writes many books 
- a person who starts or creates 
something (such as a plan or 
idea)
“and then the person is 
the actor, and he that 
owneth his words and 
actions is the AUTHOR, 
in which case the actor 
acteth by authority... so 
the right of doing any 
action is called 
AUTHORITY” 
- Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
“We define authority quite 
simply as the right to do work.” 
- Zachary Green & René Molecamp
POWER 
“the ability to 
get what we 
want”
Destructive 
Threat 
Productive 
Exchange 
Integrative 
Love 
Stick Carrot Hug
Axiology 
Hierarchy of Value 
Dimension Property Example 
Intrinsic Infinite A Child 
Extrinsic Limited Your Car 
Systemic Is / Is Not A Goal
Axiology Power Type Brain 
System 
Intrinsic Integrative Neocortex 
Extrinsic Productive Limbic 
Systemic Destructive 
Brain Stem/ 
Cerebellum 
Parallels?
Higher Purpose & Virtues 
Profit / Stock Price / Capitalization 
Structures / Rules / Habits / Machine
1. Want. Answer the question: “What specifically do I 
want?” 
2. Block. Ask yourself, “What is blocking me from having 
what I want?” 
3. Virtue. Figure out what would remove this block by asking 
yourself “What virtue—if I had it— would shatter this block 
of mine?” 
... 
http://liveingreatness.com/core-protocols/personal-alignment/
Robert Sapolsky
Adaptive Cycle & Resilience 
C.S. Holling, L.H. Gunderson
11.. NNoorrmmaall 
SScciieennccee 
The Kuhn 
Cycle 
22.. MMooddeell 
DDrriifftt 
33.. MMooddeell 
CCrriissiiss 
55.. PPaarraaddiiggmm 
CChhaannggee 
44.. MMooddeell 
RReevvoolluuttiioonn
Comments? @hajush, harold@shinsato.com 
References and Additional Research 
• The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Friere 
• Impro, Keith Johnstone 
• Upcoming Group Relations (Tavistock) Conference - (Aug 22-24, 2014) - http://www.themeritoftheother.com/ 
• “The BART System of Group and Organizational Analysis” Z. Green & R. Molencamp 
http://www.it.uu.se/edu/course/homepage/projektDV/ht09/BART_Green_Molenkamp.pdf 
• Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes 
• The Three Faces of Power, Kenneth R. Boulding 
• The Responsibility Process, http://ChristopherAvery.com 
• The Triune Brain in Evolution, Paul MacLean 
• The Structure of Value, Robert S. Hartman 
• Software For Your Head, Jim & Michele McCarthy 
• The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg 
• Stress: The Portrait of a Killer, National Geographic, including Baboon research by Robert Sapolsky 
• Panarchy: understanding transformations in human and natural systems, CS Holling, LH Gunderson, et. al. 
• The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas S. Kuhn

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So You Say You Want a Revolution? Evolving Agile Authority

  • 1. So you say you want a Revolution ? Evolving Agile Authority Agile CultureCon 2014 Harold Shinsato @hajush
  • 2.
  • 3.
  • 4.
  • 5.
  • 6.
  • 7.
  • 8.
  • 9.
  • 10.
  • 11. au·thor·i·ty noun ə-ˈthär-ə-tē, ȯ-, -ˈthȯr- - the power to give orders or make decisions - the power or right to direct or control someone or something
  • 13. au·thor noun ˈȯ-thər - a person who has written something; especially : a person who has written a book or who writes many books - a person who starts or creates something (such as a plan or idea)
  • 14.
  • 15. “and then the person is the actor, and he that owneth his words and actions is the AUTHOR, in which case the actor acteth by authority... so the right of doing any action is called AUTHORITY” - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
  • 16. “We define authority quite simply as the right to do work.” - Zachary Green & René Molecamp
  • 17. POWER “the ability to get what we want”
  • 18. Destructive Threat Productive Exchange Integrative Love Stick Carrot Hug
  • 19.
  • 20.
  • 21.
  • 22. Axiology Hierarchy of Value Dimension Property Example Intrinsic Infinite A Child Extrinsic Limited Your Car Systemic Is / Is Not A Goal
  • 23. Axiology Power Type Brain System Intrinsic Integrative Neocortex Extrinsic Productive Limbic Systemic Destructive Brain Stem/ Cerebellum Parallels?
  • 24. Higher Purpose & Virtues Profit / Stock Price / Capitalization Structures / Rules / Habits / Machine
  • 25. 1. Want. Answer the question: “What specifically do I want?” 2. Block. Ask yourself, “What is blocking me from having what I want?” 3. Virtue. Figure out what would remove this block by asking yourself “What virtue—if I had it— would shatter this block of mine?” ... http://liveingreatness.com/core-protocols/personal-alignment/
  • 26.
  • 28. Adaptive Cycle & Resilience C.S. Holling, L.H. Gunderson
  • 29.
  • 30. 11.. NNoorrmmaall SScciieennccee The Kuhn Cycle 22.. MMooddeell DDrriifftt 33.. MMooddeell CCrriissiiss 55.. PPaarraaddiiggmm CChhaannggee 44.. MMooddeell RReevvoolluuttiioonn
  • 31.
  • 32. Comments? @hajush, harold@shinsato.com References and Additional Research • The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Friere • Impro, Keith Johnstone • Upcoming Group Relations (Tavistock) Conference - (Aug 22-24, 2014) - http://www.themeritoftheother.com/ • “The BART System of Group and Organizational Analysis” Z. Green & R. Molencamp http://www.it.uu.se/edu/course/homepage/projektDV/ht09/BART_Green_Molenkamp.pdf • Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes • The Three Faces of Power, Kenneth R. Boulding • The Responsibility Process, http://ChristopherAvery.com • The Triune Brain in Evolution, Paul MacLean • The Structure of Value, Robert S. Hartman • Software For Your Head, Jim & Michele McCarthy • The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg • Stress: The Portrait of a Killer, National Geographic, including Baboon research by Robert Sapolsky • Panarchy: understanding transformations in human and natural systems, CS Holling, LH Gunderson, et. al. • The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas S. Kuhn

Editor's Notes

  1. The Agile Manifesto, like the Torah depicted in this slide, is the “Law” at the origins of the Agile software development work. But the most famous Manifesto is what triggered the Communist Revolution. Interesting and of questionable success.
  2. Being in Cambridge, MA - this picture of Revolution Books near Harvard Square today - was also in Cambridge when I arrived for the first time to visit MIT in 1980. I went in to look for directions not knowing it was a bookstore selling Marx, Lenin, and Mao posters and heretical ideas in a primarily capitalist society.
  3. The inspiration for the title of this talk comes from a Beatles song, “Revolution”. The Beatles both triggered and rode a wave of cultural revoltion in the United States in the 60’s.
  4. In many ways we’re at a culturally revolutionary time. In this picture of Tahir Square, the heart of Arab Spring, the people through the use of technologies like Facebook and Twitter “self-organized” a revolution that took down the reigning Mubarak government.
  5. Occupy Wall Street was in part inspired by both Arab Spring as well as facilitation ideas. It was a response to the banking crisis of 2008 which revealed a great deal of corruption and systemic problems which to this day has not been confronted. The bail out of “too big to fail” left most of the decision makers in the same place, and even receiving bonuses. Occupy moved like wildfire in cities small and big (including near where I live, in Missoula, Montana, where I joined the many protestors to camp out on the courthouse lawn).
  6. This revolutionary spirit is very much at the heart of the United States. Witness this quote from John F. Kennedy.
  7. This revolutionary spirit can be quite uncomfortable, just look at this more radical thought from Thomas Jefferson who penned our Declaration of Independence, and who was our third president.
  8. Dealing with oppression is not just for North Americans against the British. In this book, which I learned about at Agile 2010 from a South American, was written by an educator who taught illiterate peasants in Brazil how to read so quickly and rapidly by not imposing teaching structures using Tabla Rasa (Blank Slate) concepts of education, but rather looking at students as agents, and teaching them that they are agents. And giving them agency in their own learning process. In teaching them to read, he also taught them to read their situations which revealed their own oppression. As a result, Friere spent much of his life in exile from his native country.
  9. As a agile evangelist, the issue of oppression comes up when agile ideas have been blocked by authority. Rather than just bowing to this situation, as someone who has lived and breathed in the code and felt some connection to the “hacker ethic” of wanting to play with a system - facing this “Access Denied” - there is a desire to be able to look into the code of what is authority, and where does it come from, and how can we work with it by understanding its fundamentals.
  10. Let’s start by looking at the definition, from Miriam Webster. Notice the words “Power”, and “Right”.
  11. Most know about the benefits for Agile teams in the concepts from Improvisation such as “Yes And”. This book, Impro, changed my life in helping me understand Improvisation when I learned about Keith Johnstone’s work directly from him at Stanford University and Bay Area Theater Sports. Keith Johnstone’s chapter in this book on Status directly relates to Authority and Power, and helps understand how these concepts are well ingrained in our nature and that people detect it. Keith Johnstone would adopt a lower status stance by sitting on the floor by his students, and they would eventually become uncomfortable and join him on the floor. It’s often useful to know these status cues in order to take on the appropriate role. Notice that many elements of comedy involve status role changes or reversals, such as when the Butler/Servant is higher status than the person he is serving.
  12. Now looking at Authority, let’s look at where it comes from. Authority comes from Author. Notice the second definition, someone who “Starts or Creates” something.
  13. This is even more direct in the latin root, augere, which is to increase, originate, promote - and some etymologies include “create”.
  14. Thomas Hobbes was attempting to create a rational science behind political and concepts of authority. His definition in Leviathan is interesting in how he relates it to the ownership of a person, or actor’s, words. The right to act is called therefore, AUTHORITY.
  15. The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations is associated with some great leaders in psychology, started over fifty years ago. Someone considered one of the founding leaders of Sociology and the study of organizations, Kurt Lewin, was also associated with this institute. It has powerful understanding of the nature of authority and group dynamics. A great place to learn about it is an experiential learning called their “Group Relations” conferences. This definition of Authority comes from the Tavistock tradition, “The right to do work”. The Z. Green & R. Molecamp paper is available online. Group Relations conferences are highly recommended by Daniel Mezick. It is clear that they have trained a great deal of the leadership of many governments and organizations through much of the world. I attended one in January in Massachusetts, and I will be attending, “The Merit of the Other”, in Seattle in August of 2014.
  16. As seen in the early definition of Authority, it is closely related to Power. Kenneth Boulding, a very accomplished economist, Kenneth Boulding, has written a very illuminating book on Power.
  17. Kenneth Boulding’s book divides Power into three major categories. In his study, the most significant human power, is actually Integrative power, rather than what most people consider to be power - the carrot or stick.
  18. Dr. Christopher Avery taught me about Kenneth Boulding’s work. His model of leadership and responsibility goes beyond traditional authority to show how the ability to respond - and thus the ability to shift a system - can be taken up by anyone. But only from above low power emotional/reasoning states.
  19. Let’s look at brain science to see if we can get clues to authority. The triune brain is one of the most powerful ways to look at evolutionary systems within the brain.
  20. The nature of authority and power ultimately touches on values. The science and study of value, Axiology, has been moved forward significantly by Robert S. Hartman who was nominated for a Nobel Peace prize but died before it could be given him - and they don’t give them posthumously.
  21. The Jim and Michele McCarthy “Core Protocols” as featured in their book Software for Your Head is built on the highest level values - and identifies them as Virtues in their “Personal Alignment” protocol.
  22. But the highest values can be served powerfully by Systemic structures. Charles Duhigg identifies habits as wired in the Basal Ganglia, in the “reptilian brain”. Our habits are distilled from repetitive behaviors that originally required thought and choices, but eventually stop needing it. Most of the time we are running on unconscious habits. Alcoa, an Aluminum company, was struggling. A new CEO was chosen who increased dividends by over 500% and made it the best performing stock in the Dow Jones - by focusing on one “Keystone Habit” - by setting a goal for safety - no accidents. This one goal shifted everything by leading to excellence in all areas. The company has fewer accidents than most software companies despite dealing with molten metal.
  23. Robert Sapolsky is featured in the National Geographic video “Stress: Portrait of a Killer”. A professor at Stanford, he has studied a baboon tribe in Africa for decades. He noted that baboons spend most of their free time making the lives of those below them on the pecking order miserable. But the tribe stumbled on a cache of poisoned meat, which of course the alpha males consumed almost entirely - and it killed off all the alpha males. After this catastrophe, the culture of the baboons became much more collaborative, kind and sharing. What’s more, since the Juvenile baboons must leave their tribe, the new males coming from other tribes had to be socialized into the kinder baboon culture. But the answer for moving a culture towards agility clearly can’t be to kill off all the alpha males! But perhaps there is a natural process for culture shifting that we can work with.
  24. A book called Panarchy describes a natural cycle originally observed in forests. Forests do not progress to “climax forest” and stay there, as was taught a few decades ago. Instead they go through a natural process of a gradual move of all resources into a dominant species (the K phase), but then followed by a very quick release (forest fire) in the Omega phase, followed by an emergent period “alpha”, then followed by a ramping up towards a slow build up into a dominant species again. This process was mapped to organizations in C.S. Holling’s and L.H. Gunderson’s work.
  25. This process of change was observed by the originator of the term Paradigm, Thomas S. Kuhn, in 1960.
  26. This process of “Normal Science” may take the most time, but Kuhn showed that the story as it looks in Normal Science of a gradual accretion of knowledge is not actually the true story of the history of science. It includes periodic revolutions where the dominant paradigm shifts.
  27. As you see this image and think of the misery of the workplace as was depicted in the movie “Office Space”, which interestingly ended in a fire - listen to this message posted by the originator of Open Space Technology, Harrison Owen, offered as coaching to those hoping to assist with change (such as Open Space facilitators and Agile Coaches): there is certainly a place for what I might call palliative care. This is not about supporting the institution(s), or even “fixing” them (I suspect they are well beyond any “fix”) – but rather being with the people in their pain. Extended hand holding, so to speak – which is indeed good and useful. However, should the role be viewed either as supporting the institutions, and/or “fixing the people” so that they fit the institutional framework – I have some real discomfort. I believe our hierarchical, control oriented institutions are doing precisely what they were designed to do: eliminate surprises, control variables – producing (supposedly) efficiency, effectiveness, and if possible, profit. Some do it better, and some do it worse, but they all try. And in the process there is no small amount of collateral damage for all the people involved. They find their lives constrained, disrespected, minimalized – to the point that they would prefer to be just about anywhere but at work. And this is called “Making a living?” Harrison Owen - 2014 on the OSList