The Old Blood and Guts was an Agilist

Today Woynam posted a great find on the Scrum development list: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/scrumdevelopment/message/54221

General Patton, or the 'Old blood and guts', known for his strict discipline and "frankness" held some very agile ideas:

"Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity." - General George S. Patton

"No good decision was ever made in a swivel chair." - General George S. Patton "A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week." - General George S. Patton

"Fixed fortifications are monuments to man's stupidity." - General George S. Patton

"Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men." - General George S. Patton

"An Army is a team; lives, sleeps, eats, fights as a team. This individual heroic stuff is a lot of crap." - General George S. Patton

"Many soldiers are led to faulty ideas of war by knowing too much about too little." - General George S. Patton

The McKinsey Way

Whilst brainstorming about how a man known for his fierce discipline makes the whole Lean and Agile paradigms look old-fashioned, I did a small experiment and selected 10 random pages from the book "The McKinsey Way: Using the Techniques of the World's Top Strategic Consultants to Help You and Your Business" written by an old McKinsey consultant. I scanned each of those 10 pages for quotes applicable to the Agilist idea, on four of them I had success:

Customer collaboration: "When you're working with a client team, you and the team have to work together or you won't work at all"

Team morale: "Maintaining your team's morale is an on-going responsibility. If you don't do it, your team will not perform well. Make sure you know how your team feels"

Openness: "There are no bad ideas. No one should ever hesitate to open her mouth during a brainstorming session for fear of getting zinged with the words "that's a bad idea"

Team morale: "It's a truism that a team will perform better and its members will have a better time if the team members get along well. As a team leader, you should make an effort to promote team bonding; just make sure it doesn't become chore."

Psychology

I took another book from my shelf "Forty Studies that Changed Psychology" and did a similar scan. Here's what I found:

The theory of cognitive dissonance states:

  1. If a person is induced to do or say something that is contrary to his private opinion, there will be a tendency for him to change his opinion to bring it into correspondence with what he has said or done.
  2. The larger the pressure to elicit the overt behavior, the weaker will be the above-mentioned tendency.

That the implication of authority can render us puppets was evidenced brilliantly in Milgram's most famous behavior study of obedience: When subjects were asked to turn a voltage button to electrocute a victim in the next room the majority of the subjects turned up the dial to 435 volts -a deadly shock-, even though the victim started banging on the door and begging to stop the shocks at 300Volts. Why? Because a man in a white coat told them how to turn the dial.

And even when everyone is on equal terms, there remains the danger of social pressure; back in 1955 Asch found in a group experiment approximately 75% of the participants would go along with a group's incorrect consensus, whilst in a control group participants wrote down their individual answers and were correct 98% of the time. In short, we posses a strong need to conform to the group even if we are fairly sure the group is incorrect.

Knowing all this for decades, seeing the same lessons in these different fields of practice and study, it amazes me how we collectively favor to be in control. Why? Well simply because it gets us better paid jobs http://wilderdom.com/psychology/loc/LocusOfControlWhatIs.html

As a downside, people not wanting for control "lead easy-going, relaxed, happy lives" and the control-freaks don't. Since people high up in the organizational structure are more internally focused on control, it only follows all CEO's must be "psychologically unhealthy and unstable". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8To-6VIJZRE

Hmm...