Did you spot them all? For some of you this is a very easy exercise, but some of you might scratch their heads a bit. Those of you who are baffled by this picture scroll down for the answers.

Those to whom this was easy: what would you add to the picture? (Use comments or tweet me at @voinonen)

Note: an agile organisation here means an organisation that can adapt and learn quickly – not necessarily an organisation that uses Agile methods.

The organisational chart

It represents traditional, Tayloristic hierarchy. Hierarchy in itself is not necessarily a bad thing (in certain type of work it makes sense), but if you have to seek permission from (multiple layers of) executives who know very little about your work, it usually slows things down. It has also the tendency to foster office politics and posturing at the expense of the client focus and collaboration.

“Efficiency sweet efficiency”

This is about the tendency to focus on the efficiency of a system, work practice etc at the expence of EFFECTIVENESS. As Peter Drucker said, “There is nothing worse than doing the wrong thing well.” This is typically the problem of organisations where certain processes have worked well in the past and they are now stuck tweaking them without noticing that the world outside has moved on. Agile work practices focus more on effectiveness than efficiency. Here’s my old cartoon on this topic.

The silver bullet

This refers to the “silver bullet solution”, obviously. It’s incredible how many people seem to think that one method or technology will solve all their woes. Bring in Agile! Bring in the new IT system! An agile organisation embraces change on multiple fronts – it’s a mindset thing, it’s a cultural thing, and it’s a reward thing. It’s not a technology thing.

The picture of the CEO with other middle aged white men

Lack of diversity (in thinking, in cultural background, in gender) is a real obstacle to creativity and problem solving. If an organisation aspires to be agile it will have to be able to embrace different ways of thinking.

The CEO himself?!

Yes, could well be… 😉

The plant?

No, that’s just there for decoration.



PS. This is yet another cartoon that is in the current draft of the (comic) book “The Confused CEO’s Guide to 21st Century Organisations”

Buy this cartoon