Stoos Gathering: Lessons and Reflections

This week we have a cross-posted contribution courtesy of our friend Sanjiv Augustine, President of Lithespeed. We’ve known Sanjiv and his team for years, ever since Sanjiv was Jon Terry’s CSM instructor at hospital-giant  HCA and then helped with coaching during HCA’s large-scale Lean-Agile roll-out. We have a ton of respect for Sanjiv, Arlen, David, Derek and all the gang there.

Today’s post is about Sanjiv’s experience at the Stoos Gathering this winter. For those who aren’t familiar, Stoos is an effort to bridge the gap between the various advanced management approaches out there today: Lean, Agile, Kanban, Scrum, Radical Management, etc. While each approach has its unique contributions to make, there are a ton of similarities. And they are almost always complementary to one another if thought of in the right way. Instead people often let labels get in the way and create friction. Stoos is an enlightened effort to break down the barriers which we wholeheartedly support.

Guest Blog Post: Sanjiv Augustine, President, Lithespeed

Reviewing boards at Stoos
So, it’s taken me over a month to get around to writing this, but then catching up on the backlog of work built up over three weeks of vacation is pretty darn tough.

Before I went to meet up with fellow Stoosians, I blogged about preparing for #Stoos. I also presented the polio eradication initiative as a possible model for transforming management. It certainly seems a viable model for global change. Last month, the Washington Post reports that, as of January 13 2012, there have been no new reported cases of a child being paralyzed by polio in a year.

Back to Stoos. I had been vacationing in India and headed to Zurich, breaking journey on my way back home to Washington, DC. Met up with old friend Michael Spayd, and we traveled together to Stoos via the railway

Growing up, I’d heard that one could set one’s watch to the Swiss trains, and in this case, it turned out to be true. We arrived in Stoos after having changed four trains, all arriving and leaving precisely on the dot. Maybe it doesn’t always work this way, but it sure did for us! Serendipitously, we ended up doing the last legs of the journey with Deborah Preuss and her husband, Ilya Preuss.

Once at Stoos, we met up with organizers Peter Stevens, Franz Roosli and Steve Denning; and a day later, Jurgen Appelo. Several others in the group came together from various parts of the world. The full list can be found at http://www.stoosnetwork.org/.

Among the different streams of thought represented were: Beyond Budgeting (Franz Roosli), Radical Management(Steve Denning and Peter Stevens), Wiki Management (Rod Collins), Strategic Management (Julian Birkinshaw),Management 3.0 (Jurgen Appelo) Informal Learning (Jay Cross), Self Sustainability (John Styffe), Elastic Leadership (Roy Osherove) and of course Lean and Agile Management (Catherine Louis, Kati Vilkki, Esther Derby, Deb Hartmann, Michael Spayd, Peter Hundermark, Klaus Leopold, Simon Roberts, and myself). Industry representatives included Jonas Vonlanthen, Melina McKim and Uli Loth.
Here are some of my learnings from the gathering:

    1. The agile community has evolved a model for collaborative, networked organizations independently of counterparts on the business side.
    2. Business leaders at firms like Blue Cross Blue Shield FEP have simultaneously instituted similar models completely independently.
    3. Pioneering companies like W.L Gore have created collaborative, networked organizations several decades (!) ago and agile management is nothing new to these companies.
    4. The Stoos Gathering created occasion for enthusiasts from many of these different disciplines to come together and learn from each other for the very first time. We also discovered that though we might be referring to concepts and techniques by different names, there was very close alignment between all of these disciplines.
    5. The general management community has been moving in the direction of reforming management. From the article, “The New Path to the C-Suite,” is a great quote for senior executives,
      “The C-level person today needs to be more team-oriented, capable of multitasking continuously and leading without rank, and able to resist stress and make sure that his subordinates do not burn out. And he needs to do all of this with a big smile in an open plan office. In other words, we’re looking at a whole new breed of top executive.”
    6. At some organizations, executive reinvention of management and the rollout of agile methods have gone hand-in-hand with great results. For example, I was quite thrilled to see that one of our own clients that has been implementing agile, Nationwide Insurance, was referenced in the work of Julian Birkinshaw from London Business School. Julian’s new book, Reinventing Management, has an interview with Nationwide’s erstwhile CIO Srini Koushik that captures some of Srini’s groundbreaking work. Also, Nationwide’s agile adoption has been gaining plaudits as well. The Application Development Center at Nationwide has scaled agile to nearly 30 teams, using a Lean standard work framework.

The time at Stoos was short, and served to introduce and begin to co-mingle the work of many different disciplines. Before we left, we worked on a communique.

Over the next few months, I’ll be blogging on some essential agile management concepts including customer value orientationnetworked or flat organizational structurescollaborative decision makinglong term perspective and transparent/visual management.

As the discovery of how to transform management evolves, I invite you to join in the conversation

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Sanjiv AugustineAn industry-leading agile and lean expert, Sanjiv Augustine has assisted several leading clients adopt Agile methods over the past decade.  He is the author of several publications including Transitioning to Agile Project Management: A Roadmap for the Perplexed, The Lean-Agile PMO: Using Lean Thinking to Accelerate Agile Project Delivery and the book Managing Agile Projects (Prentice Hall 2005); and the founder and moderator of the Yahoo! Agile Project Management discussion group.  Sanjiv is also a founder and advisory board member of the Agile Project Leadership Network (APLN), and a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) ’s Agile Forum Steering Committee. As an in-the-trenches practitioner, he has personally managed Agile projects varying in size from five to over one hundred people, trained thousands of agile practitioners via public classes and conference presentations, and coached numerous project teams. For more information, see Sanjiv’s website: www.sanjivaugustine.com.

Jon Terry

Jon Terry is COO and co-founder of LeanKit. Before LeanKit, he held a number of senior IT positions with hospital-giant HCA, where he helped lead the widespread adoption of Lean/Agile methods. Jon is a frequent speaker at Agile, Lean and Kanban conferences around the world. Follow him on Twitter @leankitjon.