Catastrophe, Crisis and Victory

Today I came across Tobias Mayer’s article Catastrophic Organizational Change. Much as his thoughts on the topic resonate with me, I think there is something still missing.


His process reminds me of the term “crisis and victory” which in my faith community is used to describe an ongoing (and never-ending) process of learning and advancement. When this cycle stops, it means we have stopped learning and advancing. This applies to an individual learning about agile, a team learning about agile or an organization learning about agile. So perhaps we should also discuss the terms “Catastrophic Team Change” and “Catastrophic Personal Change”?

And yet, frankly, much as I like the rebellious and in-your-face feeling of the word “catastrophic”, I think it does a dis-service to the actual process involved. Catastrophic change is what happens when you ignore incremental crises until they build up to a point where nothing can be done any longer except pass through an enourmous destructive process in order to re-build. Catastrophic change at any level is the sign of disease. As agile coaches, trainers, practitioners, we should be encouraging a healthy cycle of crisis and victory not a process of crisis, crisis, crisis, crisis, crisis, CRISIS!, CATASTROPHE!!!,… change.

Several of the best coaches that I know actively encourage small breakdowns. Little crises. These breakdowns then become learning opportunities. The work can then become an environment for transformative learning. It’s hard work for team members. People have to actually think, develop personally, change themselves instead of expecting their environment to change. But it is at the core of being Agile.


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