Sunday, June 10, 2012

Why the future belongs to the agile


In Mark Buchanan's book Ubiquity he describes how discoveries in science follow a power law distribution. Contributions are made to the sum of our knowledge on an ongoing basis, like grains of sand falling on a sand pile, but unpredictably any given discovery or insight can trigger the equivalent of a landslide. A common way this power law idea is expressed is the 80/20 rule. In the case of scientific discovery we could say that the most disruptive discoveries happen 20% of the time while smaller discoveries make up the other 80%.

Previously in history large change came about clustered in large cities where there was a large potential for information sharing. We are living in a time when ideas and discoveries can be shared instantly across physical, societal, and cultural boundaries allowing for change to accumulate at a faster and faster rate. In other words more sand-piles, more grains of sand falling, and bigger sand piles. Big changes, disruptive technologies are coming in our lifetime, and they will come unpredictably.

It is increasingly important for organizations to evolve in a way that makes them capable of adapting to change quickly. Scrum is much more than a way of delivering software every 30 days. Scrum is a mindset of being prepared to react, to shift gears when things change unpredictably, and they will.

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