Have you noticed how BIG everything is these days? Think for a moment on the size of org charts, resource allocation models, project requirement documents, the number of projects going on at any given time, interaction models, the process one must go through to get a decision (following, of course, the socialization process), an average work day, process flows, number of processes, project plans, meeting attendees/roster, e-mail distribution lists, meetings, time spent in meetings, time spent prepping for meetings, project scope, teams, org charts! backlogs, project duration…..Even the inventory of big things is BIG. Bigger isn’t better. It’s just not. But, for some reason, there seems to be a great deal of satisfaction in having big things happening.
Lately, Agile seems to be a hot buzzword or trend used by large companies who want to deliver more, better and faster. They want BIG results. These companies also tend to have quite a few of the items on the BIG inventory alive, kicking and growing bigger by the minute. Funny really b/c the move to Agile is BIG too. The other 2 things that are really BIG? Egos and mind-sets. All of these things on the inventory of big things are pitted directly against 1 lonesome BIG thing….Agile.
Honestly, this post isn’t even meant to be about Agile. I would like organizations to simplify, a little each day and a little at a time.
Imagine what would happen if…..
- people were only allowed to spend 2 hours in meetings a day (and, no, you don’t get to carry over)?
- we only delivered the minimum amount of scope possible?
- we only had projects that took less than one month to complete?
- we sent out meeting invites with a duration of “no more than 15 minutes”?
- we only documented that which was TRULY needed?
- we had a maximum of 5 projects in flight at any given time?
- we let people work on 1 thing at a time…until it was done?
- we insisted on the simplest solution possible?
- no overtime was tolerated?
If those questions just sent you into a panic – breathe. This isn’t actually happening. That said, I believe organizations who want to do BIG things and achieve BIG results need to “go small” or…go home. What I mean by go home is stop trying to change the outcome unless you’re willing to change the BIG things in your organization. I believe one approach to change could start with the question “How can I achieve <insert desired result here> with the minimum amount of effort, overhead and management required?”. Blue sky. No constraints. For the love of pete, don’t start with looking at an existing BIG thing to modify it. Once designed, the 2 follow up questions might be:
1. Is this as simple as we can possibly make it?
2. Is this the best we can do?
The way it’s done now BIG things get BIGGER. Heck, even Agile is getting BIGGER.
New battle cries (picture the Franklin Covey motivational posters):
You need do small things to achieve big things
Find the smallest solution for the biggest problem and go with it
Smaller is better
5 small accomplishments are better than 1 big one
Quotes from other people who say it better:
“Little things make big things happen.” – John Wooden
“If you’re going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters.” – Colin Powell
“I don’t take on big things. What I do, pretty much is, make big things small and small things big.” – Larry David
If those of you reading would be so kind, I’m genuinely curious to hear thoughts and experiences from others.