Agile Self Sabotage

Think Change Governance Board, think Architecture Review Board/Design Committee please read the below ………


Guidelines for Organizations and Conferences

  • Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.
  • Advocate “caution.” Be “reasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reasonable” and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.
  • Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.
  • Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
  • Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.
  • Make “speeches.” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your “points” by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences.
  • When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committee as large as possible — never less than five.


  • In making work assignments, always sign out the unimportant jobs first. See that important jobs are assigned to inefficient workers.
  • Insist on perfect work in relatively unimportant products; send back for refinishing those which have the least flaw.
  • To lower morale and with it, production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions.
  • Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done.


Do you identify with any of that? Given I placed that idea in your head the above suggestions could possibly remind you of Design Committees or Change Control Boards but they are actually taken from:

The CIA’s Simple Sabotage Field Manual: An Everyday Guide To “Purposeful Stupidity’


So why do so many organisations seem to self-sabotage? I am a believer that all actions have a positive intent.


Positive Intent

The positive intent of a Design Committee or Architecture Review Board(ARB) is to serve as a governance body ensuring initiatives align with Ecosystem Architecture and improve the quality of the Products. Doesn’t sound bad right?


The Positive intent of a Change Control Board is to ensure the company is working on the highest value items. Deliver the greatest Return on Investment.


In my experience, most of the time these forums become self-sabotaging for the organisation. For example, the goal of the architecture review board to improve the quality of the projects could actually be being negatively impacted by the process preventing pieces of work starting. Working against a culture of experimentation and a slowing of the build, measure, learn cycle. The end result is promoting long phases of analysis and document filling without much building and learning.


Similarly with Change boards where the intention is to get the greatest return usually the committee aspect results in large chunks of work (Projects). Often prioritised by the highest paid person, not the culture of small experiments and testing of hypothesis to determine the assumptions in the often large complex business case forms and documents. Large batches breed larger batches as the principles of flow tell us.


The cost to the organisation of these meetings must be huge. Let’s spend less time debating more time building using small experiments and learning and making sensible decisions. Short Rant Over





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