I'm reading…Steve Denning

Steve Denning’s bio on Forbes, where he writes, says:

I write about radical management, leadership, innovation & narrative.

I consult with organizations around the world on leadership, innovation, management and business narrative. For many years I worked at the World Bank, where I held many management positions, including director of knowledge management (1996-2000). I am currently a director of the Scrum Alliance, an Amazon Affiliate and a fellow of the Lean Software Society. I am the author of the Leader’s Guide to Radical Management, The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling and The Secret Language of Leadership.

I really enjoy most of what Steve writes, but there are two areas where I especially appreciate his thought provoking articles:

The World’s Dumbest Idea

The title of these posts come from a quote by Jack Welsh in which he refers to the idea of maximising shareholder value as “the world’s dumbest idea”.

The original quote come from the FT in which Welch says:

“On the face of it, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world,” he said. “Shareholder value is a result, not a strategy … Your main constituencies are your employees, your customers and your products.”

So why is it such a dumb idea? To radically over-simplify Denning’s writing the answer is that is reduces innovation and ultimately reduces the value of an organisation by bleeding it dry. An example of where this occurs is share buybacks:

The resources spent on share buybacks are resources that could otherwise be spent by the organization on innovation or compensating workers for their gains in productivity.

What’s the alternative? That’s summarised by another quote from Peter Drucker:

“There is only one valid definition of a business purpose: to create a customer.”

I’ll leave you to read if your interested.

Some posts:

Agile

I work in IT and the Agile movement has had a massive impact on the way that we now work.

We used to work on massive projects that regularly resulted in failure. These projects were managed through waterfall plans that were regularly late and over budget. We needed a different way of working and in 2001 a group got together in Snowbird, Utah. The result of this gathering was the Manifesto of Agile Development and the ignition of a massive change across the industry that it still, in many ways, in its infancy.

Denning isn’t a software developer, he approaches Agile, as a mindset, from the perspective of leadership and management. In 2012 he called Agile “the best-kept management secret on the planet”.

The following video is the best summary that I’ve seen, it even starts with a summary of the talk itself:

Some posts:

New Series – "I'm reading…"

I’ve thought that I need a new series to give my writing some structure but couldn’t decide on what it should be. Series are a great way of creating a rhythm to writing, they also give people something to look forward to (hopefully).

I have toyed with a number of series ideas and finally settled on “I’m Reading…” where I plan to highlight some of the many things that I read. This will focus on people who write longer format blogs and articles that influence the way that I think about things and authors who think through things. Many of these are business and technology focused, but there’s also writing on science, art, sociology and other interesting subjects.

If you’d missed the earlier series and those that are still ongoing here are some links for you:

  • Acronyms – we use them all the time, but what do they mean.
  • Axioms – where I look at things that people take to be true and check whether there is any evidence to support them.
  • Concept of the Day – where we look at a concept the I’ve read about or used.
  • Office Speak – every office has its own language, this is my attempt to explain that language.
  • My Changing Workplace – a bit of history about my working life (I must update this as the last one covered the 2000’s).
  • My Tools – I use all sorts of tools and this is my overview of what they are.
  • The Productive Workplace – a series from 2014 were I looked at the skills that would be required by 2020, which is only 39 months away!

There’s also the My Stories series over on my Blessings site.