Interview with Niels Pflaeging – Organize for Complexity

Interview with Niels Pflaeging – Organize for Complexity

“Organizations do not and cannot manage chaos, or complexity. Saying that is like claiming that crash test dummies manage impact.” This is a quote from Niels Pflaeging one of our Keynotes. Niels is an acclaimed public speaker and combines two roles in his client work. On one hand, he is a world-class speaker. On the other hand, he helps organizations internationally with triggering, mapping and leading profound and robust change initiatives as a highly effective advisor.

Therefore, Niels will speak about “Organize for Complexity: How our organizations will become agile, radically decentralized and networked. Sooner than you think.
Here is his small interview.

Niels Pflaeging - Agile Greece

Q: Could you briefly introduce yourself?

I started being part of the Beyond Budgeting movement in 2003, when I became a director of the Beyond Budgeting Round Table. Since then, my work has been completely focused on supporting organizational transformation – acting as an influencer, speaker, advisor and consultant. I wrote two books on Beyond Budgeting, and then three more on leadership and organizational transformation. My passion is helping organizations of all kinds, and internationally, to leave “management”, or the command-and-control model of the industrial age behind, and move towards an organizational model that is fit for complexity and also fit for human beings.

Q: What will your talk be about, exactly? Why this topic?

My last book is called “Organize for Complexity – and that is also the title of my keynote session at the Agile Summit.
I believe the main reason why so few companies have ultimately overcome the social technology that we call “management“ is that most of us actually don´t know the alternative to steering, managing, planning and command-and-control. In order to create more agile, more vitalized organizations beyond the team level, we need to help all people within companies to understand the alternative. We need to create appropriate language, appropriate tools and rituals, and also an appropriate understanding of structures and leadership. So I want to outline the foundations of the difference between management, or Alpha as I call it. And the alternative model that I have come to call Beta or the BetaCodex.
Although the session will be a keynote speech, expect some level of interaction!

Q: What do you think could be the main gain for participants in your session?

I think they will learn something about the true nature of agile organizations, as well as about the true nature of change. And I certainly hope the session will also be fun!

Q: Can you give some advice to teams/organizations that are transitioning to agile?

One thing I cannot highlight enough is that you should never try to convince others of the right thing. Nobody can convince anybody else. Trying to convince, or seduce is a safe way to failure. The solution is not to convince others, but to start flipping the system to a better state – right here, right now. In order to do that we must understand that everything, literally everything, is an intervention in the system. The consequence of that is that our whole notion of change management is completely and utterly flawed! We should dump change management on the garbage heap of history – together with management itself!

Q: How do you see the evolution of Agile in the future?

From a historic viewpoint, agile was created as an alternative to project management: The notion of steering project work from the top down. Project management never really worked, and this became especially apparent in software development. Now, to apply the agile mindset to project teams and project work is challenging by itself. But we will never fulfill the true potential of agile if we don´t move towards helping entire organizations becoming agile. And this is where Beta comes into play. It is like Agile, but fit for whole organizations, as it covers questions of overall org structure and performance systems – beyond project work.

Q: You have given many interviews/presentations about agile. Is there a question you wish to have been asked but no one ever asked you?

One question that I would like to hear much more often is: “I get it, and I understand this is the first step to transformation – so what should I do tomorrow?“

Q: What you like to say something in advance to the Greek Agile community?

Given the country´s current crisis I would say: Lead by positive example. Don´t insist in perpetuating the old ways – insist in doing better.


If you want to join, get your tickets now!

Agile Greece Summit 2015

Agile Greece is a community for agile practitioners and for those interested in learning about the agile philosophy in software development. Our purpose is to educate our members about Agile, Lean and SCRUM as well as building our community to serve as a networking platform.

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