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  • [music]

  • Dan Lyons: This is now a corporate thing.

  • Everybody takes the day off and you make things out of Legos

  • and then you talk about the things you made out of Legos.

  • It's basically like if you imagine those

  • same people that you work with again.

  • Imagine going to group therapy with those people, listening to their

  • problems and having them listen to yours and then playing with toys.

  • It turns out that this lego stuff is a huge industry in and of itself.

  • There is this bogus ginned up brain

  • science that explains how it works using

  • the frontal cortex and the limbic system but none of it really is true.

  • More than 100,000 people have participated in this

  • nonsense at work without having a choice to opt out.

  • Legos serious play, this is true, is so

  • big that the field has had a schism.

  • There are old believers and new believers who both

  • hate each other and one side thinks the other

  • guys are selling snake oil, we are the true guys,

  • and the other ones say the same about the others.

  • If you've seen the Life of Brian, it's like

  • the Judean People's front and the peoples run to Judea.

  • They really hate each other.

  • This is a game called Six Thinking Hats where

  • there are six different crazy colored hats

  • and you all take turns wearing them

  • and role-playing based on the color of your hat.

  • The consultants all tell you how much people love this and how

  • transformative it is but look at those people, they do not look happy.

  • [laughter]

  • Just look at them, they look miserable.

  • There's another game where you pass

  • tennis balls around in this fire brigade.

  • There's this massively multiplayer thumb wrestling.

  • All of this is part of a much larger religion

  • which is called Agile, which you probably have

  • heard of because this religion has swept

  • the corporate world in the last five or 10 years.

  • Agile really began as a one-page manifesto

  • for how to write software faster.

  • It was written by 17 software gurus who met for

  • one weekend in Utah at Snowbird, the Ski area.

  • They just banged out this little list of

  • principles and it has morphed into everything.

  • It's like the Blob.

  • It worked for writing software and it still does.

  • Then people thought, "Well, why don't we use it for everything?

  • We could have Agile lawyers, Agile bloggers,

  • Agile marketing, Agile sales." Then it

  • morphed up another layer and became Agile can

  • actually transform the organization itself.

  • Nobody who created Agile ever envisioned that.

  • There have now been 4,000 books written about Agile.

  • Agile has a rival called the Lean Startup, which

  • is you notice they both have the circle kind

  • of thing because they both work in this thing

  • where you chase your tail endlessly at work.

  • The Lean Startup was created by a guy who

  • wrote a book called the Lean Startup.

  • His claim to fame was after college he

  • and a few friends co-founded a startup.

  • He left after a few years.

  • The startup really never amounted to anything.

  • This guy said, "I should teach other people how to do this."

  • [laughter]

  • That has morphed also into a way to transform entire organizations.

  • The intellectual underpinning is the Toyota manufacturing process.

  • You took a methodology used to build cars

  • and now you use it as a way to rewire human beings.

  • There are a couple of problems with Agile, one is that there is no Agile.

  • There are a million Agiles, there are as many

  • versions of Agile as there are practitioners.

  • I tracked down one of the guys who wrote the original

  • manifesto, the one-page thing, and I said, "What do you

  • make of all of this stuff, all of this Agile stuff?"

  • His answer was, "I'd say about 90% of it is bullshit."

  • [laughter]

  • The product problem with Agile is it doesn't work.

  • Almost all Agile implementations fail,

  • utterly fail, and then have to be mocked up.

  • I found an Agile consultant who said this is

  • destroying people's lives because it isn't

  • just that you spend weeks or months learning

  • this nonsense and then nothing changes,

  • it's that people get fired or people quit

  • because they can't stand the madness

  • anymore and also because companies use agile

  • as a way to get rid of older workers.

  • They can't fire you for turning 50 but what they

  • can do is invent this pile of nonsense and new

  • way of working that you have to adapt to and then

  • tell you, "I'm sorry, you're not Agile enough."

  • IBM is putting 300,000 people through Agile training.

  • GE is putting 300,000 people through Lean Startup training.

  • The question then is why are they doing it?

  • Partly to get rid of them.

  • IBM is using it as a way to push workers

  • out, but mostly because they're terrified.

  • I have visited some big old companies

  • including Ford, and they are scared to death.

  • They feel like they're facing this existential threat from technology,

  • from Silicon Valley, and that they have to avoid disruption.

  • The only way to avoid disruption is to copy the disruptors

  • and they feel, or they've been sold this idea that because

  • the Internet exists, everything about how to run a company for

  • the last 100 years no longer works; it no longer applies.

  • I don't know if people felt this way when television came out

  • or radio or the telephone, but they do about the Internet.

  • There's this magical thinking that everything has

  • changed so profoundly that work itself has to change.

  • Then if you ask them, "Well, then what does work?" They don't know.

  • We're in this age of experimentation where they try new things,

  • see if it works and if it doesn't they'll try something else.

  • Basically, we are participating in these massive experiments

  • in behavioral psychology, organizational behavior.

  • We are the lab rats and it's worse because

  • it is inflicted on you by quacks.

  • Even the originators of the ideology are quacks, and then it's implemented

  • by people who are three generations,

  • three steps if we move from the quacks.

  • There are people who do things mix Agile and Lean.

  • Agile has a concept called Scrums, where you work in little groups.

  • In Lean, they call it a Kanban.

  • In the hybrid model, they call it a Scrumban.

  • Now, if you can image going to work and it keeps changing,

  • eventually you're going to leave because it's nuts.

  • This is one of my favorite quotes and it's from 60 years ago,

  • that the risk of the future is that we may become robots.

  • I fell a lot of people now are experiencing

  • that day-to-day in their life,

  • even when you're doing the Lego thing,

  • you're being told, "Be a good robot.

  • Play with the Legos, don't complain.

  • You need to keep this job.

  • You need to fit into the Agile machinery, so stay quiet and just do

  • as you're told." It's also like there's a power dynamic there too.

  • [music]

[music]

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B2 agile startup lean people nonsense software

Corporate Lab Rats with Dan Lyons

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    Summer posted on 2021/02/01
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