The Importance of Agile
"Prof. Peter Senge of MIT was asked to update "The Fifth Discipline" for republication as one of the leading business books of the 20th century. He sent a note to Edward Deming asking him for comment on the book. He wasn't sure Deming would respond as he did not know him and Deming was over 90 years old at the time.
Deming, the father of the Japanese post-war industrial revival was regarded by many as the leading quality guru in both Japan and the United States. Scrum roots are in Japanese lean development and that was started by Deming. So really, what we are doing is a U.S. initiative that had to be repackaged by Japan because of dysfunctional management in the U.S.
Deming responded to Senge:
"Our prevailing system of management has destroyed our people. People are born with intrinsic motivation, self-respect, dignity, curiosity to learn, joy in learning. The forces of destruction begin with toddlers—a prize for the best halloween costume, grades in school, gold stars—and on up through the university. On the job, people, teams, and divisions are ranked, rewarded for the top, punished for the bottom. Management by Objectives, quotas, incentive pay, business plans, put together separately, division by division, cause further loss, unknown and unknowable."
Prof. Senge comments:
"I believe that the prevailing system of management is, at its core, dedicated to mediocrity. If forces people to work harder and harder to compensate for failing to tap the spirit and collective intelligence that characterizes working together at its best."
The importance of Agile processes and particularly Scrum is that we are changing the way people work all over the world. While we are often surprised at the resistance to change we see, we can take confidence that we are driving forward Deming's vision and not just in the world of software. If he were alive today, he would certainly be encouraged by this.