We have been working towards stability...

Instead, we need to embrace change

This is how we would like the company to run. Clear division of work. Specialization. Fast and efficient. Fastest way to move forward.

Rowing on a canal, that is. Not so great on a white water river.

We have been standardizing work for ages. Specialization. Processes and rules. Pushing work towards employees, with well defined job descriptions. Yearly appraisals. Command and conquer management. It works in a stable environment.

Change is an enemy of this model, though. Where the pace of change increases, the well-oiled machine falters. Change can upset the balance of power between managers. It can make specialists obsolete. All processes and rules need to be re-examined and adapted,  standards do not work any more, employees need new job descriptions, all expensive. We do not like change, then.

However, the pace of change is ever increasing. For one, we have been undermining this stable model. Routine work has been automated, is run by software or machines or robots. Or it has been moved to near-shore or offshore. The work that has stayed requires skills and competence that are much harder to capture in rules and job descriptions anyway. And then, rapdily evolving technology in the hand of your customers further accelerates change.

Do not fight change, embrace it.

Some 15 years ago, the agile movement In software development has put embracing change at the core of its values. And it has developed techniques to make this happen.

In business, the lean movement has growing impact. Although superficially working at improving the value stream and cutting waste, deeper down lean has also put more focus on empowering staff, improving decision making and working in smaller batches, allowing faster reaction to changes.

The two movements are now coming together in the Agile-Lean transformation.

A third movement has provided additional glue. In his book 'The lean startup', Eric Ries shows how a lean mentality combined with the agile approach of software development is crucial in developing new products and growing innovative companies.