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Feedback and the Story of Phineas Guage

Enterprise Agility Europe — Online 2020

We started with the highest of hopes. We were destined for great things. We were going to plow that green field. We weren’t going to be bound to any rigid process. I’ll spare you the details, because if you stop and reflect for just a moment on your own experience with these sorts of things, you probably already known where we were headed.

It’s true that our ad-hoc Agile had devolved into a patchwork of poorly defined initiatives, unrealistic expectations and missed deadlines. Considering our weekly burn rate, we knew it couldn’t go on like that forever, but somehow it seemed there would always be time to reform.

For the longest time, management made no obvious attempt to staunch the bleeding, but all the while, they were preparing their move. With the kind of results we were giving them, they had little choice but to act. The problem was seen as lack of structure, and so structure, plenty of it, was seen as the solution.

pattern language

Let's agree to define productivity in terms of throughput. We can debate the meaning of productivity in terms of additional measurements of the business value of delivered work, but as Eliyahu Goldratt pointed out in his critique of the Balanced Scorecard, there is a virtue in simplicity. Throughput doesn’t answer all our questions about business value, but it is a sufficient metric for the context of evaluating the relationship of practices with productivity.