The title of this post comes from chapter twelve ‘The Trouble With Rules’ of the book Maverick! by Ricardo Semler which details the unusual but common sense approach to Business adopted by SEMCO.
SEMCO threw away the traditional Business structures and rules and were much better for it; they believe that “with a few exceptions, rules and regulations only serve to:
- Divert attention from a company’s objectives.
- Provide a false sense of security for executives.
- Create work for bean counters.
- Teach men to stone dinosaurs and start fires with sticks.
The desire for rules and the need for innovation are, I believe, incompatible. (Remember, Order or Progress.) Rules freeze companies inside a glacier; innovation lets them ride sleighs over it.” You may feel rules protect you but “a turtle may live for hundreds of years because it is protected by its shell, but it only moves forward when it sticks out its head.”
This common sense approach to Business may sound like heresy or lunacy to some, but a local innovative and progressive Australian company is trying a new approach based on learnings from SEMCO and other places. That company is Cogent Consulting.
At the Agile 2009 conference in August 2009, Steve Hayes from Cogent Consulting will hopefully be presenting Creating an Agile Company (link requires registration). The following is the synopsis of the proposed talk, and if you can make the conference and Steve is presenting then you will find Steve a really good presenter:
Many agile practitioners feel dissatisfied with traditional organisational structures. This report describes a consulting and development company created specifically for a group of experienced agile developers, and whose values and principles:
- Shared Rewards
- Get the Right People on the Bus
- Leverage time
- Maintain control
This experience report will cover the motivations that led to the formation of the company and the practices used day-to-day.
Keynote presentation covering the following points:
- How traditional companies are anything but transparent
- The existence of alternative approaches - Semco, open book companies, Alfie Kohn (“Punished By Rewards”)
- Why you need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk
- How different people have different needs, financially and emotionally
- Why systems to reward people are part of your core business
- How we handle our money
- How we set salaries
- How we did staff reviews
- How we hire people
- The downsides of all this
- Understanding how companies like this differ from more traditional companies
- Understanding of the motivation for creating a different sort of company
- Appreciating whether or not the company’s values and principles are consistent with agile values and principles
- New ideas on how to establish a company consistent with agile principles