Topic Teasers Vol. 90: Is Agile Japanese?

Question: Our management team is extremely agile resistant, saying that there is no research or history to this practice—or no link to better productivity, despite recent statistics that disagree. What can I tell them to show that this is actually a way to engage millennials, the largest section of the current workforce? And to show that it also has a proven track record of maximizing high productivity, even if it wasn’t called by the same name?

A. Since agile was conceived in 2001 in Snowbird, Utah, it is 100% American in origin. The rest of the world had never tried these practices until the results of this famous meeting were released through a series of speeches, articles and conversations.

B. Agile principles rest on the behaviors Douglas McGregor believed to be basic to most workers, called Theory X. Because it suggests that people dislike work and try to avoid it, the more lax workplace of an agile team tricks them into thinking they are in management.

C. Dr. W. Edwards Deming developed the earliest agile-like philosophy, which he called the Hierarchy of Needs. If a manager can meet all of the needs for the employee, productivity will soar. If even one is left unfulfilled, project outcomes will be subpar.

D. Agile actually is an outgrown of the Japanese motivational theories of Dr. William Ouchi’s “Japanese Management” style from the 1980s. By now, the concepts have been well tested and proven to be effective in the modern-day workplace, first in Japan and then in other locations around the globe.

Pick your answer then Test Your Knowledge!

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