Message from the CEO: We Must Evolve

The Entrance by nattu, on Flickr Agile
The Entrance by nattu

On the flight home from a recent assignment I fell asleep and had a wonderful dream about a speech that a CEO gave to his employees. It went something like this…

In order to survive long term a species must evolve. So must companies. So must we.

Our company is heavily reliant on our software for survival. These days the new environment of software development is agile. This is an inevitable evolutionary step that we either learn to do or we will eventually perish. There are already a number of our competitors who are further evolved than us but fortunately there are a number who are not. We may be able to catch those ahead but we most certainly must evolve more than those behind. Survival is not only for the fastest gazelle, but we must at least be faster than the slowest.

To date our size has been a saving grace, along with the relative ineptitude of our competition. However, we can no longer rely on either size or dumb luck. We must boldly evolve. The savannah is littered with the carcasses of large and slow companies, ones who were too slow to keep up with the changing landscape. It wasn’t too long ago that Borders and Blockbuster were behemoths and now, they are no longer with us. Those who rely on size would be wise to note that Fortune 500 companies now have a lifespan of 15 years versus 75 years half a century ago, as stated in a Forbes article I read that used the Shift Index.

That is why as a company we must not relegate our evolutionary future to random mutation or genetic drift but instead embrace the values and principles of agile development, the implementation frameworks of scrum and Kanban and the software practices associated with XP, BDD and the like.

I have been told that there have been several attempts to take this company agile in the past but the proponents of these ideas have been thwarted by organizational antibodies such as fear, indifference and outright subversion. My sincerest apologies to these pioneering men and women for not understanding or giving support to your cause.

In order to ensure that our company transformation goes smoothly, I have appointed a CAO, or Chief Agile Officer, to work alongside me. He has my full support and let me make one more thing crystal clear: from this day forward anyone who subverts our essential evolutionary change will have plenty of time to commiserate with former Blockbuster employees.

We must evolve. We will evolve.

Then I woke up. And the speech has not been made and Blockbuster and Borders are still out of business. But I still have hope.

Larry Apke

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