Hardwired for Command-and-Control?
Something I recently saw made me wonder: is the drive to control built-in? Why do so many of us revert to this style under pressure, even while we believe collaboration gives better results?
Agile Work and Agile Software Development value collaboration so highly, it's built into the very methods we teach. Some of the Agile practices can be used without collaboration - but with the loss of real-time communication comes extra documentation, loss of quality and failure to meet plans. The success of Agile methods is predicated on an entire team being responsible to make and meet committments. This group accountability drives different behaviours: of necessity, collaboration displaces competition.
The shift to Agile values and practices is difficult - for many, it's a significant culture change. And with change comes stress, and with stress... fear and the urge to control. (I think this is the best argument for engaging an outside coach for the early stages of Agile rollout - an impartial third-party who can afford to challenge old habits that inevitably creep in. Well, if an organization is serious about Agile, that is - it's not always the case).
Agility comes only when the team is in control of the work. Whoa! What about the manager?! Managers (and leaders within the team, too) will need to understand their new roles, and work at behaving in new ways, in order to really support the team. The good news is: the whole team can help!
Giving up individual control for shared accountability is one of the harder shifts we need to make to get the benefits of working Agile. So, if you're feeling uncomfortable - rest assured, you're not the first. It's probably just growing pains.
Read about culture change at First American Real Estate as they have rolled out the Scrum methodology over the past year.