Saturday, May 9, 2020

The Inevitable Collapse of Agile - David Stackleather

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VoiceAmerica  0:04  
One problem facing people at many levels of business is how to make time for a work life and a personal life. Do you find that one seems to keep getting in the way of the other? This is the work life balance with Rick Morris. Even if you're not involved in the business world, you'll have a lot to gain by tuning into today's show. Now, here's your host, Rick Morris.

Rick A. Morris  0:26  
And welcome to another edition of the work life balance. Very excited to have everybody along. You know, I think it's still just really, really crazy times. I know a lot of the states in the United States are starting to kind of think about reopening and reintegration and you know, it's it's just been a crazy moment, but I had a moment of reflection this morning. I had a chance to join a mastermind with several of the john Maxwell team members. And really, you know, I think the the entire part of us being quarantine for that matter is that we really It's allowed me to focus more on connection versus distraction. Right, this is kind of the key thing that came out, I think, because I was traveling so much and because I was going all over the world and, and literally would lose two days a week to travel, there was just tons of distraction that I wouldn't allow that connection piece to always go and now that I'm kind of forced to stay in one spot, it's really been something to focus more on connection with people and so I challenge you to reach out and connect call three or four people today and just you know, maybe past clients or people that you haven't gotten, gotten in touch with recently and just have an opportunity to reach out to them. You know, I've got some some very special people in my life that that provides that connection that really just amplifies my energy and so I urge you to find the same. We also want to announce if you haven't had a chance to come join us at the pm tribe calm please do as for my project managers that are listening out there my agile lists that are listening out there. We wanted to create a community that did more than just deliver content, we wanted to deliver direct mentorship. So it's led by six of the brightest minds that we know in project management and agile and each one of us have lanes in which we have calls every week, the calls are recorded, but you have the ability to call into to the mentor and ask anything you want to ask and deal with any issue that you want to deal with. And we've got some phenomenal mentors, john Steinbeck, Colin Ellis, Peter Taylor, Elizabeth Heron, Elena Hill, and myself. And so it's just a great community of people that are really driven to watch you grow in and master your influence to be able to really do the job that we were intended to do. So that's at the pm tribe calm come join us over there. So we're going to get to our guests today. Our guest is is I'm really excited about this. He's an independent management consultant. And he's focused on unraveling track troubled large scale projects and helping organizations transformation into high performing and adaptable companies. In short, his mission is to help teams and organizations become better, better in the sense of increased teamwork, increased flow, increased learning and increased passion about their mission. Most companies today are run based on flawed and outdated assumptions about how people work their best. These assumptions around the structure work methods and management got us far during the Industrial Revolution. But those same approaches no longer work. The good news is we know what works now. And the challenge is that it's not easy or intuitive to get there and so we're going to talk to this gentleman who brings us this this great knowledge His name's David stack leather, David, how you doing, sir?

David Stackleather  3:37  
I'm good. Rick, how are you doing?

Rick A. Morris  3:38  
Doing fantastic. And you know, when I asked for a topic for the show, you know, the inevitable collapse of agile and so boy already I can feel the Agile is just, you know, just breathing heavy. Like, don't don't mess with my method. Don't you touch my standup right. Don't mess with my sprint. But let's talk about that. Right agile is is such a big buzzword and It's It's, you know something I looking at you on the screen here. I'm not going to guess age or judge age. But we've been through the ITIL. We've been through the Six Sigma craze. We've been through all the latest fads and things and, and so when when I first heard of agile, I thought it was a fad. I was like, man, they may even be around in two years, but right, it's hanging on. So talk to me. But why did you come up with that as a title? Why do you see it as an inevitable collapse of Agile?

David Stackleather  4:25  
Well, I, my early career, my first professional job was in when TQM was coming into the

Rick A. Morris  4:34  
TQM I'm certified baby.

David Stackleather  4:36  
Yeah, and process reengineering. And Mike hammer. And there was an executive at the company I worked for who was big into process reengineering. And I was kind of picked from the bowels of the organization as maybe I had an interest in that skill there. And so those things I was really passionate about that did a lot of work within the company I worked for with our clients, kind of an internal consulting company learned a lot traveled the world. And I still believe in all that stuff. I still believe in TPM. And I still believe in process reengineering in the in the right context. But it became clearer and clearer to me that there's a more fundamental issue that even if you have the recipe, even if you have the quote unquote, solution, there's a bigger issue and trying to accomplish that in larger organizations. And my most recent experience in a large scale agile transformation, were a very old school organization in the insurance space, which is famous for not wanting to change for some good reasons and some bad and looking at even an organization that wanted to go through the transformation and needed to go through a transformation. How much kind of nonsense there was within that structure and nonsense internally generated but a lot of nonsense externally generated from consulting firms. A lot of people who really had no idea really what they were talking about, but they had a certification over weekend and suddenly they felt they could suggest how an organization that is a multi billion dollar, billion dollar organization is going to operate and appreciating the complexities of that, you know, because it's not a machine that we're dealing with. And I've dealt in manufacturing environments, and those are also extremely complicated. But when you get humans involved in the situation, it's really complicated and the context is key. And so the more that I look at specifically agile, which I'm a big believer in the foundational principles of agile, I think this is the right direction, but the industry around it and what's being sold is is doesn't kind of hue to those standards. I don't believe and just like frankly, if we're speaking, you know, honestly, the T QM days, the process reengineering days, the Six Sigma days, whatever fad, you can mention the outcomes, I think we're generally disappointing to the various Businesses that implemented them not that there weren't successes. And I think we're seeing that now in the Agile space as well.

Rick A. Morris  7:06  
Well, so let's back that up and deconstruct it a little bit first, whether it's t qm ITIL, agile, Six Sigma, it's all plan, do check act. I mean, Pim Bach is doing that, is doing that. I mean, it's, it's all we're gonna plan, we're going to do it, then we've got a measure, and then we're going to act upon those measurements and deviations right there. Right? Plan, do check act. So that's why I always considered a fad. But I think my biggest determining factor of whether or not I really believe in what's going on, is whether is the first step that suggested and if the first step is suggested is we got to train everybody in the organization in new in new words and a new lingo. Right, then you're selling training, you're not selling a product because honestly, if you do it well, you don't really have to put anybody through training. It's just you just change the underlying structure and say, This is the way it's going to be done here.

David Stackleather  7:53  
Is that fair to say? No, I think the way that I I look at these I question, especially with the Large scale frameworks and I use safe as an example not because I have any particular issue with safe, but that's the most popular one. And I asked myself, what's being sold there? What's the business model and the business model is a certification business model. And it's a consulting, business model implementation business model, but really from the the large scale frameworks being sold. It's really the revenue stream is certification, which is why you pick just about any of the frameworks, or any of the organizations providing certification. And when I first got involved in the Agile space, there were a couple you know, you had your product owner and your Scrum Master certification, you know, there was a handful. Now, there's a dozen or more for most of these. Yeah, I mean, it's just it which is is kind of crazy in a lot of ways. And so just like any other business, they're coming out with new models all the time because they want to create new features and new models they can sell and that's really exciting. It's not fundamentally about improving an organization, it's about selling the training and all the kind of add on processes. And I think you're right in the executive or a leader will see that as you know, I call it installing the agile, you know, I want to buy the agile and install the Agile as if they're buying a printer or something. Right. And because of the way it's structured and sold, it kind of looks like that. And it seems very scientific, and it seems very official, and it's very expensive, and very time consuming. And by the time you get through all this certification and relabeling and all this process, a couple of things happen either it fizzles out, and people just still use the same terms but they're not really acting in that way. or an organization will try to fool itself because once you've spent millions of dollars implementing something, you can't really admit that it didn't. It didn't work. And so now you're you're, you're kind of forced to set to say that it did work or move on and Forget about it because you don't want to admit that you spent a huge amount of money doing something that didn't work.

Rick A. Morris  10:04  
Now Dean leffingwell is is a friend of the show and he's endorsed books that we've done. We wrote a book called agile Almanac, which was scaling all the different types of agile methodologies to the to the bigger scale. he endorsed that book, wonderful person, but the certifications coming out too fast. I mean, I was certified I think in four Dotto, and it's already up to five. And that was just a few years right and your certifications no longer valid because I decided I wanted to change the model. And the reason why I changed the model is because I'm getting feedback that it doesn't work right. So it's it's, it's this constant thing, but to be fair, one of the things that you said was was Tiki and and all these things were six sigma t qm, although they seem not to work in what I think happens is I think they do work I think, I think in their purest form when when, you know, the Toyota way, right, that was the big thing. Everybody wouldn't read that book and try to implement it like Toyota did. But it did work for Toyota. It was it was amazing what they did, but I love the way that you said the install methodology. So just go get me that no, that was a whole culture built and we've got a top down and everybody was no knowing what was happening. And so I want to get some of your feedback we're about to go to break here and I want to start talking about what you call the Agile industrial complex but to leave the listeners with something here as well as one of the biggest things that I see in failures of Agile is that we don't change the methodology the executives and I see this I have a lot of coaches on the line as well that a lot of john Maxwell team coaches and when when you approach an executive they go Okay, yeah, my team needs coaching. They're like no, no, we're starting with you. Oh, no, I'm fine. I'm good. I'd you know that my team needs that I'm you don't have to talk to me. And so I'm watching you know, a team base agile get started, but still being requested waterfall reports. So when is it going to be done? how much it's going to cost, which means the organization hasn't bought in, right? And so now you've spent all this money on training, you've got this agile team running and now when you're trying to then quantify it back up to the executives They don't, they don't that coach has never done it in a large scale like that insurance company there's the person that got sort of certification hasn't led anything on a large scale where the less transform a business right So, lots to talk about lots to unpack we'll get into the Agile industrial complex you're listening to David stack leather and Rick Moore's and the work life balance.

VoiceAmerica  12:27  
Are you frustrated with the overall productivity of your project management processes? Do you lack consistency and project delivery? Our squared consulting provides end to end services to assist companies of all sizes in realizing and improving the value of project management. Whether you want to build a project management office, train project managers or learn how to bring the oversight and governance to your project processes. r squared has tailored best practices to help you in all areas of project management, visit r squared Are you getting the most out of your project management software. In many cases, it is not the software that is failing, but the implementation limitations or processes surrounding the use of that software. r squared can analyze your current use and help improve your return on investment. r squared can also suggest the best software for your organization and goals and assist in the selection implementation and training. Allow r squared to ensure that you are getting the value of your investment visit r squared today from the boardroom to you, voice America business network.

You are tuned in to the work life balance to reach Rick A. Morris or his guest today we'd love to have you call into the program at 1-866-472-5790. Again, that's 1866 For 725790 if you'd rather send an email, Rick can be reached at our Morris at r squared Now back to the work life balance.

Rick A. Morris  14:12  
And we're back to the work life balance on this Friday afternoon visiting with David stack leather. David is talking about the inevitable collapse of agile. So that obviously piqued my interest. And I'm excited to have you aboard the show. One of the things that you brought up in in some of the pre interviews is you talked about the Agile industrial complex, can you can you describe what that is and what you're talking about there.

David Stackleather  14:33  
So this is the most visible aspect of this are the certification organizations, you know, the and the scrum Alliance, and then some of the framework vendors safe and less than those kind of things. And that's even in the past couple of years that's kind of exploded. Even from a framework perspective. We have Nexus and others that have popped up and you know, I think as we talked about Before the break, a lot of this stuff is based on the same set of principles. It's just kind of a re mixing of it doesn't really bring anything new. And so this creates this process where there's an industry that's selling something to people. And there are multiple customers in the industry, which is kind of the complexity of it. The certification is one component of it. And those customers are employees, and folks who want to get into a job or a career. And the certification is just like in you know, the project management space, you had PMP certification, this is like that, but just worse than that, there's so many more. And the employees and the workers feel they have to become certified so you have a ready made audience. Hiring managers are part of this as a customer of this complex because hiring managers are looking to hire a fairly complicated skill set and a lot of these roles are Scrum masters and amazingly complicated skill set to hire for. And so as a hiring manager, it's much easier for me to simply Do you have a CSM and then I'll hire a CSM. And then, you know, just like in the old days where nobody got fired for buying IBM, you could say, well, nobody gets fired because you hired a CSM, they were certified, but nobody knows really what that means being certified. And you have executives who are for various reasons, some of them real, the performance of their organization isn't where it should be. And they're looking to change or they just want to be in on the latest fad to tell their friends that, hey, I'm an agile organization now. And so they want something to buy and install. And a lot of these large frameworks that come along with the certifications is something they can buy and feel that they can install. And what's what's fascinating, you said something before the break about, you know, it does work in certain contexts and stuff. And you mentioned Toyota and I totally agree. Now, the interesting thing is there's only one Toyota in the universe, right? And so the you know, the context is key there and in Toyota the, you know, executives were really bought in and continue to be really bought into the concepts and the philosophy behind it and the culture and that organization has built up over time. But you can't simply say to a, you know, a financial services firm be like Toyota, that just doesn't really work. And so a lot of this, this industrial complex is really about selling pieces of this to different customers. But it's not about fundamental transformation, because you can't, you can't just buy that in a box and install it.

Rick A. Morris  17:29  
Now, they, but they're sold it, that they're sold, what they they're sold a bill of goods, you write this, you will get this

David Stackleather  17:36  
there sold this as a bot and the more you know, kind of the more complicated it looks, the more pieces the more titles, all that stuff, the more it kind of makes sense to the existing narrative, which is really a false narrative, but they you know, they think there's just some tweak and it from an executive standpoint, they're really saying I want somebody else to change, I'm not going to change so give me something that I can install that will have these other people change. I think there's also something that's happened recently, a couple things that's happened recently. And by recently, maybe in the last decade. One is that you have a lot of executives and organizations that have found themselves in a position where they have to understand technology. Because their business, everybody relies on technology. You know, when I was in the financial services space, you would have executives talk about, I don't really care what happens in the technology department. And you know, I tried to tell them, if the technology stops working, this organization dies in 24 hours, right. And so there's no distinction between the business and the technology nowadays, but you have a lot of executives who this is new for them, and a lot of them don't really want to be involved in to the degree that they need to be. And so this this kind of scratches an itch to say I can, instead of understanding really what's going on there and be a part of that solution in the context of my organization and change myself and change how my my leadership team operates. I'll just buy this box of gizmos and have you guys install it. And it'll just it'll change the organization. But it fundamentally is an impossible ask. The other thing that's happened, you know, in the past maybe three or four years, I would guess is the very large consulting houses have come into this, they see this, the buzz generate, and large organizations, you know, on the kind of late adopters. And so that's an opportunity for them to just kind of, here's all the people, we're going to sell you thousands of hours of very expensive consulting folks to go in and transform your organization. And all they're doing is implementing the box of gizmos that you buy from the framework, implementing it without context within the organization. And they'll spend several years doing that. But fundamentally, your organization won't change because the culture didn't change the way the leadership operated, didn't change. And unfortunately, eventually all the employees will figure that out much quicker than the leadership And they'll become kind of upset that this is another fake change, which is probably one in a long series of fake changes within most organizations not all I mean, I want to be careful that there are there are definitely organizations out there that are trying to change and leaders that are trying to change but if you look at a percentage of organizations, I think that's a pretty small percentage.

Rick A. Morris  20:21  
And so so it's some it's important for us then to focus on the why of the change the one of the big things and misconceptions of Agile is if I install it will be faster. It's just it's it's, it's no different than saying I'm going to hire a personal trainers so that I can run faster, or that the day that you hire the trainer, you're running faster, right? That's Yeah, months of hard work and months of transformation in changing. And so I think the other thing is, is if if you're going to agile because you're having delivery problems and a lack of trust in the team and a lack of leadership, agile is only going to exacerbate that it's only going to make it worse because It requires more trust and more cohesive team units and stuff to be really effective. Right. But I recently had a client that that was sold the safe bill of goods essentially they wouldn't say but almost every single one of their projects is commercial off the shelf installations. Hmm. So now you're at the mercy of the vendor, and they're trying to be agile, and they're trying to do pies and it wasn't working for them. And I always said, so just don't do that ceremony. Right? Oh, well, you know, it's prescribed is what moves. But we have to recognize that these are just like the Pim Bock if you look at PMI in the pen back then that was a methodology but that doesn't mean I do every single one of those processes for every single project methodology. This isn't a doctor prescribing a treatment. If you don't do the treatment, you're gonna die. Right? This is this is somebody going you know, you may want to eat a couple less potatoes a rake, just gotta lay off the potatoes like a little bit there. Right? That's more of what it is. So So why, why is that difficult though for executive To just comprehend why we see it because we've been through it all. Yeah. Why? Why are these executives just buying it?

David Stackleather  22:08  
Well, I think part of it is that, especially in large organizations with a big hierarchy, most executives don't interact with the people who are at the interface to their customers. So I read somewhere, I wish I knew who had written it. But they said, there's a developer, a programmer has more in common with this with the CEO than any kind of mid manager does, right? Because they both just want to get something done at the end of the day. But most CEOs don't talk with the developers who are writing the software for their customers. And don't sit down and listen to what their problems are. And therefore, they have all this middle layer, this information that's being kind of squeezed the value before it gets into a PowerPoint and it gets into the boardroom. And the middle layers that are squeezing that information out are not doing it maliciously. They're been trained through the culture to do that. To what to expect, how to communicate. The one that I always kind of laugh at is I'm always admonished for providing too much detail to executives. You know, they don't want to go into that detail and say, Well, I understand they don't want to have a five hour long, you know, speech about something. But these are smart people. I mean, these are these are not dummies, why are we dumbing down everything? Why don't we have real conversations about real problems at the interface of the customers, which is the only relevant interface in an organization. And so I think that, because the executives and leaders have separated themselves, they don't go and sit down with developers and customer service people and the guy at the dock, unloading the boxes. All these folks know exactly where the problems are. And they'll tell you now, they may not tell you in the you know, most flowery language, they may not be polite about it, but they'll tell you what the issue is and you should be thankful if that's the case, but too many executive Don't do that. And I've seen in my career, a couple who are really good at that, and would know what was going on and could could interface with the organization at all levels in a way that made sense. But most are just kind of trapped in their daily meeting structure and PowerPoint decks, which there's no info. There's no valid information coming from that process.

Rick A. Morris  24:21  
yet. Carly Fiorina actually attributes a lot of her success, who first female CEO of a tech giant HP, to the fact that she would, she talked to everybody, she'd sit down with anybody and hear them out and got her best ideas from the lower level. There's the thing that I've done, I've dubbed it the fuzzy middle layer, you're talking about the middle layers, I call them fuzzy because that's where stuff just gets fuzzy. Right? But it's interesting, I was part of a project at at CAA, where we were developing an application on top of clarity ppm. So your total project portfolio management's got all of your statuses. And we built an app for an iPad, where you could do your strategy, but then you could tie your Strategy directly to the project. So you could see in a dashboard, how it was beautiful, but it bombed because it bypassed the middle layer, because it was getting the project managers were inputting data directly into the system. And that was feeding right up to the strategic plan, right. And there was no context being given by the fuzzy middle layer. And so it caused a lot of concern. Right. And so the project managers loved it. The executives loved it. The fuzzy middle layer, hated it. Really interesting to watch. Yeah, but why do we Why do we think executives stay so far removed? I've met with CIOs that literally just they're like, they like us. They like us, these consultants who will give them that level of data because we're the only people giving them real actionable data in the system. How do you How can they not see that culture getting for?

David Stackleather  25:52  
Well, they, you know, a part of it and happens over time. And so it's it's the old boiling frog problem. It's not a quick thing these cultures are generated over time. And it makes sense. It's logical that as, especially as an organization grows, you're like, Well, when I have, you know, 10 people in a room, and we're a little 10 person company, we don't have a lot of hierarchy. We're just in a room, we're talking, everything's flowing. If we have 1000 people in the organization, as the leader of the organization, I think, well, just mathematically, I can't deal with 2000 people. So it makes sense for me to create a hierarchy, rather than creating kind of a network process, which is a structure that you might want to look at, rather than a hierarchy. But the default is, well, I have a problem. So I need to hire a role. I need to have somebody to manage these people. And before long, you have all these structures. And there are a couple of things that happen, I think, to most executives, one is they get into a cadence, it's the you know, the old maker versus manager proc process where you know, managers can split their time in half hour increments, but if you actually build anything for a living, that's not possible you need to have long periods of time, financially. interrupted, you know, programmers don't develop software and half hour increments, right. And so they get into this cadence where it kind of makes sense you're having these meetings, you're think you're getting the information, it's very quick to fool yourself, that you have some line on what's really happening because that data is all being translated based on what the middle layer thinks you want to hear. And that middle layer is watching the executives reaction really, really closely. And so I think what a lot of executives don't realize is when they have a reaction, that's maybe a poor reaction, or they push back against something or they complain about something that that almost has a 10 x effect on the reaction of the middle layer, and it just makes the situation worse. And I've seen that time and time again, with like executive reaction in a meeting where somebody's presenting some data, which is valid and it's not good data. It's not good information. We'd rather not to be that way. And the executive reacts and I don't like this And the reaction is kind of a 10 x effect to the middle managers, and therefore the next meeting is even more watered down. For sure. And, you know, one of the things that has amazed me, especially in large, very large, like financial services organizations is the disconnect in, in opinion between the executives on what they think the worker level in the organization is, how good they are, versus how good they really are. And so they have an opinion that will our programmers aren't very good. That's why our software kind of goes down or whatever. And if you sit down and talk to the developers, you know, you're like, these are really smart people. These guys know what's going on. And you're lucky to have this kind of staff but the executives have never really talked to them and interacted with them and understand how many of their decisions which they don't even understand the impact of their decisions, kind of causes problems within the systems of the organization. They kind of they kind of lay the groundwork for their own torture in the future, but they just don't realize it. Because fundamentally, they're talking to people because they think that as an executive, my job is to sit in meetings and listen to PowerPoints and issue directives and that sort of thing rather than get lazy, right? You get lazy and you get used to that process. You know, we're all human. We get used to that this is kind of nice coming into the office, having my coffee, having somebody come and you know, give me a PowerPoint deck me making some kind of pontificating on it. The other thing that's dangerous let's let's pause right there because what I'd like to do is give some tips and tricks around kind of preventing this happen, but we do need to get to a break really quickly and we'll get it right on the other side of these commercials listening to Rick Morrison the work life balance.

VoiceAmerica  29:44  
Are you frustrated with the overall productivity of your project management processes? Do you lack consistency and project delivery? Our squared consulting provides end to end services to assist companies of all sizes in realizing and improving the value You have project management. Whether you want to build a project management office, train project managers, or learn how to bring the oversight and governance to your project processes. r squared has tailored best practices to help you in all areas of project management, visit r squared Are you getting the most out of your project management software? In many cases, it is not the software that is failing, but the implementation limitations or processes surrounding the use of that software. r squared can analyze your current use and help improve your return on investment. r squared can also suggest the best software for your organization and goals and assist in the selection implementation and training. Allow r squared to ensure that you are getting the value of your investment visit r squared today it comes to business you'll find the experts here voice America Business Network.

You are tuned in to the work life balance to reach Rick A. Morris or his guest today, we'd love to have you call into the program at 1-866-472-5790. Again, that's 1-866-472-5790 if you'd rather send an email Rick can be reached at our Morris at r squared Now back to the work life balance.

Rick A. Morris  31:31  
And we're back to the work life balance on this Friday afternoon. Afternoon. We're visiting with David stack leather and talking about agile and how you what we may see as the inevitable collapse of agile and right before break. We were talking about 10 executives being removed. And you made a really good point, Dave, in talking saying that. There's opinions that are that are different in the opinion of the developers, the executives are is really based on that fuzzy middle layer that we're talking about. I always like that as executives when I go When I say well, who's who do you think makes the strategic decisions of this company? And you know, of course, well, I do, you know, this is what I get paid for, and I go, so do you have a prioritized list of projects? And are you resourced against those? And they go, No, I go, well, then you're not making the strategic, you may make the strategic direction, you're not making the strategic decisions, because the person that is that DBA in the corner that just got asked for things to do. And because there's no clear direction on what I should do, first, they're making the strategic decisions of what they're doing. And I've got 884 different strategic decisions being made a day. So that's, that's, it's an interesting concept, but how do we what are some tips and tricks to kind of help that or how do you deal with those opinions?

David Stackleather  32:44  
So So one, and you know, agile really helps in this way, which if if executives and leaders would accept this is the idea that if you operate off a prioritized backlog of things that you're working and whatever the granularity of the backlog is, you know, But certainly at a higher level about what the outcomes are you need for your business. And the idea of forcing that prioritization. So you don't have 10 number ones, which is usually in large enterprise, everything is important, we need to have 10 number ones. And, you know, the way that I describe it to them is Look, when you when you come into work in the morning, you have to get dressed, and you have to get your your set appearance to show up at work. All that stuff's important, your pants are important, your shirts important, everything's important, but you have to have a priority to get it done. You can't do it all at the same time. And so that's fundamentally the same way that we have to operate in these these projects on these efforts. One is to to the one decision is what is the most important thing at this moment in time and if you can, as a leader make that decision, then you need to figure out what information who do I need to talk to, because I think a lot of organizations kind of outsource that work just like you're describing to the to the layers the programmers and the DBAs in the to mid level managers to make those decisions, and there's 1000 decisions happening. And probably with most organizations 60% of the work is not really relevant to the success of the organization. It's kind of busy work, it'll be thrown away, or it doesn't really matter at the end of the day, but leaders are not making those decisions, because they're not having a hard discussion about prioritization, which is hard. I mean, I admit it, you have to make decisions about what you won't do, and what you will do. And that list should be fairly small, and it can change over time. But too many love to pass that

Rick A. Morris  34:33  
it's there.

David Stackleather  34:34  
Right? But that's the you know, as you just described, that somebody is making a decision. And they're making that decision for you. And you've just outsourced that decision to somebody you don't know. And you don't know why they're making that decision. And most likely, the decisions are not going to be consistent for delivery of some value that the organization needs, which is why you have so many organizations spending what seems like more and more money. Especially on technology efforts, but they see what they get more or less and less value out of the other end. And there's lots of reasons for that. But one, I think, is because of this lack of really, if you're an executive, the one thing you need to do is prioritize what's important to the organization, what what really needs to happen? And what are the goals of the organization and have a feedback loop to understand if you've if you need to change your decision, and very, very few leaders have that process. But the Agile kind of guides the way if you if you just take the kind of baseline agile of a prioritized backlog that concept and approach can help quite a bit, but too many don't want to have those difficult discussions because it is difficult. But let's Yeah,

Rick A. Morris  35:42  
let's talk about that first and prioritize backlog and I'll give you an example working with an executive recently. It first of all, the term agile coach, I hate that it's so why because I am an agile coach. But I don't, I don't install teams and I don't do whatever do is I work with executives to teach them how to think in an agile format? So for instance, you build me a data warehouse. Okay, well, that's fine. But what are we going to do with it? Well, you know, I don't know, I just need all my data in one place. And I'll tell you, no, that's not what we're going to build. And so I was doing this with an organization. And it's like, so what are we trying to get at? Well, we feel like we need to do local market plans. Okay, great. So how's the local market plan work? Well, we get our 50 accounts, and we get information. So great, let's, let's take six people, we'll do 300 accounts, we'll clean them up. We'll do this all manually to see if we're going to get a benefit. Before we go by Big Data Warehouse. I just kept asking questions. So I was like, so why can't we just take the 50 accounts and finally got the executive to go, Well, how do I know those are the best 50 accounts? And I was like, there's your first agile question, right? How do we know? And what are we going to use? So what are we going to use to determine it comes back? I don't know. That's why I needed their data warehouse to give me all the data and I was like, even if you have all the data, you're not going to know so Let's start here. And that's what an agile coach should really do is really force you to the value conversation and asking really good questions to be answered versus, well, I want to build a data warehouse and we're agile, so I should get it in six months instead of a year.

David Stackleather  37:14  
Right? Yeah. And I think it's, it's interesting, because as you're describing that, you know, if you take, take it out of the Agile coach or an external party, like yourself having that conversation and put an employee in that chair, they wouldn't get past the third question, right? What you know, they would just kind of be like, Okay, I'm done talking about this, just do what I told you to do. I have another meeting to go to. And so, you know, I think too many. I give you an example, a personal example, I've had somebody who's worked for me three companies over my career. And this individual will tell me when he thinks I'm going loopy, in a nanosecond, a very straightforward and sometimes it can be a frustrating conversation. You know, it's like he keeps pushing, pushing, pushing I've always valued that you have to have have to have people in the organization or people that you trust to be able to push back on the process or ask the 20 questions until you get to something that makes sense. And too often, executives or even mid level managers don't want to allow that. They have a very short fuse for that. And I think because it's part of it is because of the internal PR machine in your head that a lot of managers have when they're not involved in the day to day, and occasionally they'll come up on a situation. And they'll say, they'll make a comment, oh, you should do it this way. Or have you thought about that? And they're right, and the employee says, Oh, we didn't think about that. Sorry. And what people don't realize is the manager or the executive in their head, the PR machine in their head is saying, oh, you're a genius. Look, you just figured something out. You're a genius. You're a genius. And it plays in their head continuously and then they they end up believing their own internal PR when it's not just because you don't not involved and you just showed up and you saw it from a different angle and you made it statement and it seemed like you're a genius, but it's just the context of where you're coming from. It's not that you have any greater knowledge than your employees. And so I think they train, you know, and we all do this get trained over time, if we're not actively pushing back against this process, where we're shutting down the conversation that is so critical. But But oddly enough, we'll let an external party do it. If you bring in an external consultant, you'll let them get away with all kinds of stuff. Not always. There's always Oh,

Rick A. Morris  39:29  
yeah, I've been I've been escorted out a building. Yeah.

David Stackleather  39:32  
I mean, you have to kind of judge the context. But you can get away with a lot more as an external party and ask more uncomfortable questions and just about any employee in the organization, and that shouldn't be that way. Right? I mean, from because there's a lot of good knowledge in organizations that they're missing.

Rick A. Morris  39:50  
So we've got a couple of minutes left about two to three minutes left in this segment, what should executives really be focused on if agile is not going to work? What What should work what should they be? focused on.

David Stackleather  40:00  
So I think they shouldn't be focused on, you know, implementing a framework or having everybody get certified. They need to not that these things are not useful. These components of what we call agile are very useful. But executives to understand what's the context of their organization? What's the culture of their organization? What is the the goal, the optimizing goal of the structure of the organization? What do they need? What problem do they need to solve in the next several years, five years, and look at maybe tactics or structures that they can implement and test and have a feedback process but not to buy something that they're going to install? A large framework, starting to change titles, get people certified, really until you as a leader say, what are we trying to accomplish? And how should we change our work and there's a lot in Agile that'll inform on that and it's very valuable, but you shouldn't be your first step should not be to call up a consulting firm and say I want to buy the agile and to install the agile, because that's all that's inevitably going to fail. And most organizations, that's what they're doing. But the hard work is to understand your organization, go talk to the developers, figure out really what you really want to accomplish as an organization, maybe you don't have a problem as an organization, frankly, you might be working just fine. And agile is not the right thing to implement. And so that's the real process is to have those discussions and questions at all levels, not just in the boardroom.

Rick A. Morris  41:33  
I think I think one of my biggest suggestions I gave when we start talking about agile as if we're going to deploy agile, you need to start deploying agile yourself as an executive even in the way that you're bringing in people. So what's the value that you're going to negotiate in versus, you know, and that's my frustration with some of the big firms and in Look, they some of the big firms do a lot of great work. They do, to be fair, but then, you know, we have our run ins as consultants. I you know, I was an expert of this software for 20 years I was there when it was built. And I'm working with the lady that actually wrote the financial calculation portion. We're trying to solve something for a client and it's not working the way we want. And this guy comes in, sits down with the software for two minutes, and it gets a meeting with the CIO. And now I'm having to sit with the CIO, because this guy thinks he solved the problem. It's taking a Nic. Again, this is not I wouldn't suggest this. But again, I was an external consultant was frustrated. Plus, I'm Italian. I said, Look, I read all about your business on Wikipedia last night, I know how to solve all your problems. And the guy goes, What are you talking about? I said, that's what this joker just did here. I mean, you've got the people who wrote the software in the building. Let us finish this out. Right. He has no idea what he's talking about. But unfortunately, that's what we deal with in the consultant game. Right?

Unknown Speaker  42:44  
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

Rick A. Morris  42:47  
So we're going to go ahead and take our final break right here. We're going to come back with David's deck later, we're going to find out how to get in touch with them, as well as what are some of the best advice he's ever received. Stay tuned right here. You're listening to Rick Morris and the work life balance.

VoiceAmerica  43:04  
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You are tuned in to the work life balance to reach Rick A. Morris or his guest today we'd love to have you call into the program at 1-866-472-5790. Again, that's 1-866-472-5790 if you'd rather send an email Rick can be reached at our Morris at r squared Now back to the work life balance.

Rick A. Morris  44:50  
And we're back to the work life balance our final segment this Friday afternoon still visiting with David stack leather David what company did your own consultant you have your own firm Yeah, I have my own, you know, one man operation called scale frameworks kind of as a joke about the Agile frameworks. Well done. I like that.

Unknown Speaker  45:11  
I was I was available

Rick A. Morris  45:14  
right out of people get in touch with you, how do they find you?

David Stackleather  45:18  
So the easiest way to get in touch with me is either at David at scaled framework comm if you want to shoot me an email or I'm on LinkedIn, at LinkedIn slash stack leather slash stack leather. I'm only one of two David stack leather so you'll quickly find out which one it is the other ones my dad, he works for the federal government, that's not me.

Rick A. Morris  45:39  
Well, what would you say is your your ideal client?

David Stackleather  45:42  
My ideal client is someone, a leader in an organization who really wants to make change. Who sees that the situation is changing maybe in their industry, they're not delivering as they they used to. They're not satisfying their customers. They don't really know What the what the gears are how the thing needs to change, but are open to anything and open to dealing directly with people who do the work open to changing hope and open to being in very uncomfortable situations. And those are the best, like if we can just have a real conversation and maybe it gets a little heated but we're okay at the end of the day, we're moving forward and trying to do the best thing for the organization and and the folks that rely on that organization, both employees and customers. That's the best situation I really get energized by those kind of situations. I'm not really big on politics and hierarchy and let's talk about the org charts and that sort of thing. That's, that's not really something that I was interested in.

Rick A. Morris  46:46  
So what some of the best advice you've ever received.

David Stackleather  46:48  
So probably the you know, as similar to the kind of the internal PR machine I as I mentioned before the break I had an executive that I worked for for quite some time and he Told me during a dinner or something, always remember, you're not a genius, which is shocking to have somebody about seven rungs above you on the org chart. And we talked quite a bit about that. And what he had said was that there's so much information there's the world is so complicated in a lot of ways you can't possibly know everything, you have to rely on other people. You have to be open to new information. And no matter how smart you are, how smart you think you are, you have to know and believe that you're not a genius. And you're not always going to have the answer. And for two reasons, one is because you're not always going to have the answer. The second is even if you have the answer, other people have an ability to kind of mess that up for you. And so you have to make sure that everybody's on board and nobody likes to work or deal with somebody who thinks they're a genius. It's annoying. And so I think I'm very smart. I have an ego like anyone else, but I try to actively tamp that down. I think it's important especially the highest You are up in a hierarchy, the more kind of good luck you've had in your life about moving into a position, having the right education, having the right parents, whatever the situation is, is having a little humility and understanding that the world is very complex. And you don't have all the answers. But if you get enough people together and have a good conversation, you can probably find a good solution. And that's the best advice. And I've tried to increasingly improve on that over the years, this probably was 20 years ago when I heard this message. And that's, you know, led me down a good path. I think over time, where I can I can at least be proud of what I've done. And I'm not ashamed of anything that I've done in my my career.

Rick A. Morris  48:46  
Do you have any final thoughts or things that you'd like to share with the audience?

David Stackleather  48:50  
Well, I would just say that especially if you're involved in an agile transformation, if you've got your CSM, if you're in an organization that uses is kind of struggling is to kind of throw away the idea about the certifications and go back to the the actual underlying data. And what I mean by the underlying data or the underlying information is the the old stuff like Deming, the number of times that I'm in a room of executives and ask them if anybody know who Edwards Deming is. And I get maybe one hand at a 40 cola. You know, it makes me really sad. And this is what I mean about this. We know what to do in these organizations. We know how people work we know how leaders and people on the factory floor or the call center floor ideas that really operate but we need to go back to this information so kind of throw away the new website stuff and go back to the lemmings and McGregor it's not hard to find all these people. And and you'll be surprised when you read the kind of the old knowledge that we've known about this for quite some time. We have a lot of ideas, but I think focus needs to really go back and read that stuff and understand it the intent behind it, rather than kind of taking a, you know, pre written, pre installed framework or set of tactics, and try to shove them in the context of your organization, because it's just, it's just going to be frustrating. All the way around.

Rick A. Morris  50:18  
Yeah, and, again, there's gonna be something else that comes behind agile, it's gonna be the, in fact, I already heard of one friend of mine just went to Rome to get certified in this thing. And but essentially, when he described it to me, I was like, so tell me how that's different from my toe. Right? Well, this one's different because you're, there's chargebacks they're really trying to use a cost center. And I was like, right, that's exactly what I was doing. And everybody, everybody froze at the time that you were trying to do that configuration to the CMDB. Right. There was always the, the one piece of thing and there always seems to be one piece of thing and in this case, it's it's agile is the right level development of when you throw something into poi. That's always the one thing that people seem to miss. That's And strategy over versus functionality or requests or business questions, right? In this one, right, it was a CMDB. So now they've tried to figure out how to do it without a CMDB. And therefore, it's Yeah, it's it's frustrating.

David Stackleather  51:14  
Yeah, well, that goes to it's, it's a business model, and they're not realize this, they're constructing a product to sell, which means you have to change something, and you've got to have something to sell. And now you're just re, for the most part, you're rehashing old stuff in a new format with new fonts and, you know, fancy website, but fundamentally, you're not really selling anything new. And fundamentally, people can't buy something and install it and change their organizations and that that deep giveaway just is not really possible.

Rick A. Morris  51:45  
So I've had to I've had to learn how to develop analogies that I do a lot of stuff on resource management, understanding the utilization of our people and it doesn't have to be hard takes five minutes a week per person, you know, per manager really to do. But I always love We don't have time to do resource management. I'm like, well, that's like saying you're too fat to diet. It just there's nothing there. That makes sense. It's Yeah, it is what it is. Right? Well, David, I've appreciated your time partner, I appreciate you coming on the show and sharing your expertise with us. And we wish you luck in the future. Thank you very much. I've enjoyed it. And so for everybody else hanging on, we're going to have West bush on the show next week. Wes is a best selling author of product lead growth, these renowned product lead growth pioneer, it says in his bio, he's ridiculously tall, so we're gonna have to figure out what that means. But looking forward to have Wes on the show. We've got some great guests lined up. We're actually I think, booked out into July now for the show. So we've got a lot of great information coming up. We'd love for you guys to give us feedback. You can do so at Rick A. Morris on Twitter. You can find me on LinkedIn and Facebook at Rick A. Morris, and you can always send an email to our Morris at r squared consulting comm or Rick at Rick A. Morris calm and until next Friday. We hope that you live your own work life balance and stay tuned right here to voice them. America business for our next fantastic show.

VoiceAmerica  53:06  
Thank you for joining us this week. The work life balance with Rick Morris can be heard live every Friday at 2pm pacific time and 5pm eastern time on The Voice America business channel. Now that the weekend is here, it's time to rethink your priorities and enjoy it. We'll see you on our next show.

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