The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


The Opposite Of Agile …

Look at this chart doing the rounds right now.

Look at it!!!

Do you know what it is?

Allow me to tell you …

It’s corporate fear culture disguised as a couple of million quid in fees for Deloitte’s.

That simple.

Hell, it even makes that utter insane Pepsi logo design process book look clear and simply in comparison. And let me reassure you, it was neither clear. Or simple.

Look, I get there’s a lot of complexity in this world.

I get that solutions often require a number of processes, skillsets and collaboration.

But come on … this is ridiculous, especially under the title of ‘agility’.

All it reminds me of is something one of my amazing mentors once told me.

He is an extremely successful businessman who has interacted with all manner of consultants at the highest level, so this is an informed perspective, not some bitter and twisted creative obsessed strategist.

“When a solution is more complex than the problem, then you’re not buying the answer, you’re buying the C-Suite’s annual bonus”.

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As an aside, I’ve written about a bunch of other brilliance he has told/taught me over the years, which you can read here.
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I look at that chart and keep thinking it’s basically a version of the board game Monopoly.

And then I realise that’s EXACTLY what it is, because it’s designed for you to keep paying Deloitte every time you pass go.

Or get lost.

It’s the ultimate selling tool.

Because not only has it been designed to put the fear of god into organisations about things potentially going wrong, it doesn’t necessarily have an output other than ‘business as usual’.

The last time they had something so powerful is when they made billions helping companies worried that the millennium bug would bring down their computer systems.

Of course, every few years they come out with something else to keep the money coming in.

Digital Transformation is one of the most recent fads, which my mentor [yet again] had an interesting take on:

“The C-Suite buy digital transformation because it sounds modern and progressive. That they’re moving ahead into a brave, new World. What they’re really buying is infastucture modernisation … designed to simply not leave them too far behind”.

Now it is important to note not all consultants are bad.

In fact, some are brilliant and fascinating. Red Associates are a particular fave of mine.

[You can read about them in more detail here]

And then there’s FNDR, with my old mate Nick Barham … who are doing interesting things and aren’t packaging it all into making a new logo or website to justify their fee.

However this stuff is ridiculous, and while we can point and laugh and say the people who sell this are charlatans and the people who buy it are idiots, the reality is they’re buying more of it – and for more money – than anything adland has done in decades.

But here’s the thing.

Anything is easy if you [1] don’t have to execute it [2] don’t care about the effectiveness and [3] only care about the cash.

Which leads me to something a mate of mine told me recently.

The difference between a liar and a bullshitter.

A liar knows the reality of a situation but changes/exaggerates the facts within the context of that to achieve their goal.

A bullshitter doesn’t care about truth, so will say whatever is needed to achieve their goal.

And with that, I’ll leave you to decide which one this chart belongs to.


33 Comments

This is a joke, right?

Comment by Bazza

I refuse to believe this is real. That people sell this and some buy it.

Comment by Bazza

You should know by now they do. And they make millions from it.

Comment by George

This is an excellent post Robert, with great input from who I assume is our mutual friend. As you say in the post, we can mock the people selling this stupidity but they make tens of millions from it. The question I think you are posing after that is ‘what price are you willing to pay to be wealthy?’ Ultimately the system works because it is similar to the story of the Emperor’s new clothes. Except no one shouts “he’s naked”, either because it’s making them rich or it would make them embarrassed.

Comment by George

Your last sentence nails it.

At the end of the day, so many of the clients targeted are those who wish to abdicate their responsibility. It’s fear, cowardice and a lack of leadership. These charts are designed to trade on insecurities of both old or new companies … don’t get left behind or scale successfully. The irony is both organisations probably have people inside them who could do this – but they choose not to listen to them and so end up reliant on external help over and over again.

Some consultancies are really valuable and important. In my experience they don’t churn out slides like this.

Comment by Rob

Your mentor’s quotes need to be heard by every organisation thinking about hiring a consultancy based on a chart like this.

Comment by Pete

I love the difference between a liar and a bullshitter. I never had considered that before.

Comment by Pete

I’m going to disagree with the definition because it assumes the two categories are mutually exclusive. They’re not. A bullshitter can be lying.

The differenc is that a liar knows what they’re saying is false. A bullshitter doesn’t necessarily realise that it is. Thus a bullshitter who does know they’re not telling the truth is, in fact, a liar. Diagram to follow. But first the invoice.

Comment by John

Isn’t that what I’m basically saying?

OK, I didn’t say a bullshitter could be lying – but surely that’s semantics, given that if they don’t know anything about the subject, they don’t know if what they’re saying has any context or not.

Comment by Rob

Firstly, you didn’t say it, your mate did. And secondly, no.

Comment by John

So it’s his fault. Then I’m cool with it. Hahaha.

Comment by Rob

Even you’re more agile than them Rob.

Comment by Billy Whizz

👏 👏

Comment by Bazza

That is the scariest – and truest – thing you’ve ever said.

Comment by Rob

Your mentor should have a blog. But he or she is too smart to do that.

Comment by John

He is. But not smart enough to stop being my mentor.

Comment by Rob

Funny how a property mogul sees this diagram as a Monopoly board when it’s clearly based on the Tube map.

Comment by John

Sure. I just meant it in terms of how they are suggesting someone who buys into it has to use it. Moving from place to place, round and round. Jesus, why am I even bothering … hahaha.

Comment by Rob

no one cares. not one fucking person gives a shit.

Comment by andy@cynic

Bing tells me this thing has been around since 2016. The way things suddenly spike online is weird.

Comment by John

Yes, it’s been doing the rounds for a few years. They’ve actually updated it. You thought this was bad? Oh no … they have ways of making it even worse. I’ll try and find an example … it’s insane.

Comment by Rob

deloitte really a bunch of fucking pricks.

Comment by andy@cynic

the problem with saying your mentor is smart is that he still thinks youre worth spending fucking time with.

Comment by andy@cynic

Seems he’s smart when he’s away from Rob.

Comment by DH

That’s the most difficult eye test I’ve ever seen.

Comment by DH

Pity the designer asked to create it.

Comment by George

If that’s agile, what were their sloth charts like?

Comment by Pete

In the interests of fairness, the chart above was apparently developed for fair – and internal – reasons.

Rather than be a sales tool for the consultants, it was a one-stop guide for all the different processes that can be used to be agile within the organisation.

In fact the author, Chris Webb, said this:

“Being Agile isn’t as simple as following one single methodology. In fact, Agile encompasses a number of different practices and frameworks, often referred to as “the Agile umbrella.” For an organisation to be successful in adopting Agile ways of working, it requires the right technique/method to be used to address the problem or need.”

All fair and good.

Sadly – as a friend of mine told me yesterday – certain members of the Deloitte consultancy group weren’t using it for that. Instead an internal document was used to sell it as a ‘holistic approach to agile business practice management.’

The reality is this post was never really about the chart but about the approach many – but definitely not all – in the consultancy industry behave. They’re not the only one’s who can do this, but they definitely have become experts in selling complexity rather than solutions.

Apologies to Chris Webb.

Comment by Rob

You certainly do your research.

Comment by John

The question to ask yourself when engaging any external consultancy organisation is whose success are they really focused on.

Comment by Lee Hill

RE: Herbie Hancok, it wasn’t so much racism, but ageism. Herbie was well into his 40s, which meant he was old enough to be the viewers dads. Outfunking those half his age was neither here nor there.
While he’s all time god of jazz, watching a bloke about the same the age of Bill Cosby play keyboards isn’t very interesting for a junk food-addled midwestern adolescent late at night, so it really was the fantastic (and very costly) Godley and Creme video that drove it.

Comment by av

Age most definitely added to the situation … but on the documentary I watched, Herbie … his manager and the video directors all talk about the prejudice towards playing black artists on mainstream TV that was a key issue for them to try and overcome with the video.

Add in his age and it must have felt an almost impossible task. But as you say, Godley and Creme played it brilliantly.

Comment by Rob

Just realised these comments on the wrong post.

Damnit. Because they’re good. Or AV’s is.

Comment by Rob




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