Facebook Agile: Is your Enterprise living a lie?

**This post is Rated: PG-13+.

I heard the best phrase today.  As I was wrapping up our Coach’s CoP, I was sharing banter with a colleague about some of the factors inhibiting growth and preventing teams from making progress.  A recurring pattern I’ve seen is lack of leadership.  Not leadership buy-in.  Not leadership support.  Not leadership engagement.  Just…leadership.  Let me explain..

I have leadership engagement.  They are awesome at micromanaging the wrong things.  There are days where I throw sharpie darts at a Ron Jeffries picture I have graffitied to look like the devil.  I have grown to like Ron, but I hate that he introduced story points, especially as I’ve grown to value principles over practices.  But, if you want leadership engagement, you can introduce that concept and watch them spiral out of control.  Sidebar:  when did the #NoEstimates guys start making sense?!

I have leadership support.  Besides micromanagement, these folks ask lots of great questions about what should be done by their teams, and direct reports.  They don’t specifically want to do anything, but they will gladly yell at someone on their team that hasn’t done something I have asked for.

I have leadership buy-in.  They know waterfall is a steaming pile of shit.  They recognize they must change to remain relevant.  They don’t question the value of what we are attempting to do.  They, for all intents and purposes, have bought-in.

And yet, there are adult conversations people are uncomfortable having.

Some paraphrased quotes from my career:

“We can’t report that.  I am not going to look bad especially since <insert peer rivalry name> is reporting they are ‘green’ “

“Um no.  I already committed that we had our CICD pipeline built.  Even if it doesn’t work, we are going to say its working, and people will work until it works.  #work”

“Our teams need to be busy.  I don’t care if they aren’t working on the most important stuff.  I’d rather give the appearance of busy, then admit we have no idea what to work on.”

So you see…it’s a lack of leadership.  Its not embracing conflict, with the expectation that conflict results in growth.  It’s the inability to have an adult conversation with “senior management”.  We cannot look bad.  We cannot show up on the PMO’s Agile Tickbox report.  We must lie.  We must pretend we are amazing, and brag to our peers about how much farther ahead we are, than they are.  We will modify reports to prove that.  We will modify narratives to prove our reports if our reports cant be modified.  We will have our Coaches codify our narrative, if our non-modifiable reports cast doubt and incredulity.

This happens at EVERY company.  If someone tells you it doesn’t – they are full of shit.  Or they are so out of touch that you should discount anything they ever say again.

As my colleague Ryan Jenkins dubbed it in our convo, its Facebook Agile.  (or as Mike Beedle would spell it, F_cebook Agile)

When you look at Facebook feeds – all you see is pictures of vacations.  Smiling kids.  BBQs.  Selfies with angelic halos framing the heads, with rainbows glistening in the background.  Manicured lawns.  Clean pools.  The best steak sear ever.  Cold beers with the perfect frost on the mugs.  We could go on forever here, but everyone connected to social media knows exactly what I’m talking about.

Everyone knows someone, who is going through an absolute shit storm with their spouse, yet according to Facebook, you would think they were newlyweds.

No one takes a picture of their messy house and posts that to Facebook.  Married folks don’t share what an asshole their spouse was over the weekend, and post pictures of their divorce attorney’s office.  No one brags about the fence their dog just destroyed because he was bored and was trying to escape to the nearby highway to play ‘dogger’ in traffic.  No one posts piles of dirty laundry that has been put off for weeks.

Enter Facebook Agile.

We are conditioned to hide the bad shit that is going on around us.  We must keep up with the proverbial joneses.  There’s no reason anyone has to know what’s really going on (even though most people know what’s going on).

Our leaders are afraid of what other peers might think.  Or worse, what other “senior management” might perceive or judge.  So they choose not to be leaders, despite the obvious need for leadership.

If you don’t know what you are supposed to work on – WHY WOULD YOU NOT ASK THE QUESTION – What should we work on?  Because someone might have hurt feelings that they didn’t do their job?? That isn’t real, is it?  I have learned..it’s fucking real.  And its sabotaging everyone’s goals.

I find it amusing when Directors and VPs act like jealous siblings, because one of their peers did something good.  Instead of just congratulating them and being happy for their success, they have to upstage that success with some other unsubstantiated wild claim.

That is not leadership.

That is pretending to be something you aren’t.  That is only talking about the wins, and not sharing the failures for others to learn from – and avoid.  That is trying to impress proverbial strangers about how happy you are in life and work.  That is the avoidance of corporate adult conversations.  That is what is inhibiting progress at your Organization.  That is Facebook Agile.

This is a call to action – let’s start promoting this term.  Let’s bring light to the absurdity.  Lets help leaders embrace leadership.  Lets stop Facebook Agile!

Join us at the coalition.uprising.com to share your Facebook Agile stories and rants!