Context is Everything!

agile, blog, management30

Scrum versus Waterfall. Management 1.0 versus Management 3.0. Automated Testing versus Manual Testing. Estimation versus No Estimations. SAFe versus LeSS.

So many different opinions on all kind of topics and it seems like people always want you to choose between left or right, up or down, etc.

McDonald’s is a restaurant. You maybe don’t like the food or have other ideas about the definition of a restaurant. But is a fact, McDonald’s is a restaurant. My daughter is 14, within two years she is allowed to work at McDonald’s. She could work in the kitchen, prepare my food. I love her, and she has great talents, but I did not yet see the talent of cooking food. Still, she will be allowed to work in a kitchen in two years. (Update: her talent for baking cakes is developing well)

I believe in Management 3.0. I think it can help you manage complex adaptive systems, or in other words organizations. However, the kitchen of McDonald’s is not managed using a Management 3.0 approach. It is about order, rules, and checklists. And I am very happy it is not a Management 3.0 organization, taking into account that my daughter will be able to work at McDonald’s in two years :).

De Librije is a restaurant in The Netherland and has three Michelin stars. I just checked.., they are almost fully booked for the rest of the year. I have seen a documentary about this restaurant, and their kitchen is nothing like McDonald’s (yeah duh… you think). The management style in their kitchen is Management 3.0. It is about creativity, experiments and taking responsibility, on every level.

McDonald’s with Management 3.0 would fail, De Librije with Management 1.0 would fail.

When I ask people for Management 1.0 examples, people often mention the army. But is that really true? I disagree with the statement that the military is completely and always Management 1.0. Imagine you would be send into battle with a team, and you have to ask permission for every decision you want to make to the commander in HQ. The same for him, he has to ask permission from his commander. You would lose the battle. However, when the battle is over, things will go back to Management 1.0. Based on the situation, a management style is decided.

An important meeting within Scrum is the daily standup. Most Scrum Master will tell you, that when you don’t do a daily standup, you don’t do Scrum. But is that really true? When my team is sitting in one room, including the Product Owner, and they have extensive communication during the day, I don’t mind if they skip the daily standup. I know they will communicate about progress and impediments. They don’t need that safety net. It will be different when I coach a new distributed team. In that case, I strongly advise the team to have a daily standup.

You can have the same discussions on the topics I mentioned at the start of this blog post. Yes, sometimes SAFe will be a good approach, but also sometimes LeSS will be a good approach. There will be projects where a waterfall approach can help you but also projects where Scrum will give you the most value.

Always look at the context, what could work? Don’t judge any method, framework or whatever upfront. Most approaches can give you value when you use them in the right context.


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