A chaotic start to a new era…

A few weeks ago I decided to go out on my own and become an independent professional instead of working in big consulting. I wanted to do work that is true to my beliefs and values, and in order to control my destiny and my work, I left CGI’s Agile practice to venture out on my own and try my hand at adventure. And what a start it has been… best described by this Charles Dickens’ quote…

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” — Charles Dickens

The world turned into chaos, the markets are down, countries are closed and people are in isolation. So what do I do? My answers were simple – practice what I preach. I preach agility and adaptability in organizations, I preach new values and beliefs, I preach experimentation and I preach customer focus with market validation.

So what do you do in such a chaotic and complex environment? Being a fan of Dave Snowden and his work in Cynefin and sense-making, the answers are actually fairly straight forward.

  1. In Chaos, you ACT-SENSE-RESPOND which really means you do something, validate whether it works and then based on whether it works or not, act again. Take some new action (keeping in mind the rapidly changing landscape). I decided that I am not going to act as if the environment is in Chaos because I am not sure whether such reactive action is going to get me anywhere. So mostly, I refrain from it…
  2. In Complex decision making, you PROBE-SENSE-RESPOND. When you are in the domain of unknown unknowns, the best defense for probes is multiple-safe-to-fail experiments. This means you do several things that are safe to fail, all at the same time, and one or more of these probes might work. This is somewhat similar to the startup world, where if you have several ideas and only a few might succeed, invest in several of them, so you do end up with some that would succeed.

Here are my probes (my safe to fail experiments), that I am launching in order to see which proverbial needle in the haystack sticks and brings back some value:

  • Online classes in Scrum, Large-Scale-Scrum, Product Ownership, Kanban, targeting the people who are focused on learning rather than on certification.
  • Online courses for organizations on Organization Design for an Agile world – the world of teams, HR practices, Funding models, potential structure options, potential audit, and governance approaches
  • Initial consults for large and medium-sized organizations, to help understand their problems and advise them of potential options (including teaching them what the options are so that they can problem-solve with knowledge of potential options and ways to solving problems)
  • Courses to teach complexity practices using Cynefin and Sensemaker
  • Sensemaker Pulse Scans to enable organizations to understand their culture, agility, safety, etc.
  • Coaching and mentoring services to help launch new Agile teams and transformation, as well as provide support to existing Agile teams and programs by the hour. Not the standard service of sitting within organizations forever, but to help create new internal capability to support themselves as quickly and effectively as possible.
  • Transformation and culture change methods based on sociology change and network theory to drive innovation, value or safety though practices of Viral Change.
  • Continue down the path of certifying to teach formal courses in Scrum, Large Scale Scrum and to formally coach organizations

All these, all at the same time, the multiple safe to fail experiments… time-bound and tracked and executed in an impact bound manner.

And so it begins, but for sure you will hear from me on my journey – the good, bad and ugly, as I apply my learnings to myself and the business that I am trying to build in delivering value to myself and those I work with and work for.

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