The Illusory World of Agility in Social Media

One of the most quoted sentences on agile transformation originates from Reid Hoffmann, co-founder of LinkedIn: „If you’re not ashamed of the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.“

Today’s world of the social media – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn – is a world, in which we present ourselves as being successful. Here, the perfect dinner, the perfect selfie (no wrinkles and pimples), the perfect event, the happy and contented people of a kick off for agile transformation, all our successes and our perfections are only too gladly displayed (and yes, I explicitly include myself here). This world grasps every single opportunity to offer public advice, useful tips and wisdom of life, business and leadership to others. We proudly demonstrate it, in all sorts of situations, in our private and professional life.

Apparently, the real world disappears behind this ideal world. What they call VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity), the unpredictable world, the world that allows little planning and no security at all anymore, disappears at least for seconds in our own reality. Does this perhaps offer a short vacation for the own soul life, above all in a professional everyday life, in which the question of “purpose” is commonly asked, either as an individual or an organization, in which projects and changes are never „finished“, in which insecurities, disruption, emotional volatility are routine, and in which the concept of „success“ will experience completely new dimensions.

And yet, the question is allowed: How is that possible? Don’t we constantly hear and read about “Nextland” of Working? These future leadership competencies express, that we no longer have the right answer. As a matter of fact, we might not even have the right questions. I clearly understand that I must be prepared to fail. I will experience the highest discipline, sweat and tears when I am working in an agile mode. I will make sure that my ego is reduced rather than increased. I’m inviting others to co-create. I am in a pioneering spirit and will fail again and again. I will doubt everything and everyone. I will not even know whether I am successful. And should I be successful I might not know what my success really is? Where is this strong dissonance coming from? Why aren’t we willing to show our errors, our actual failures, our doubts, our inferiorities, mistakes, shortcomings? Why do we try to represent a „new world“ in the virtual world through an „illusory world“, which is still characterized by achievements of the „old world“?

Especially we, Learning Enablers, Agile Coaches and Facilitators, are more than ever challenged to share our failures, our questions to which we really have no answers, our doubts, uncertainties, imperfections. Only then we can serve as role models, really show ourselves, open up and create an atmosphere of deepest trust in which we can all make public how ignorant we really are.

We need courage, a lot of courage. The word courage comes from the Latin word cor = heart. With all your heart, without reinsurance, devoting yourself to something, to learning, to progress, whole-heartedly, without guarantee of success or any solutions. Agility without courage is difficult. I am looking forward to feedback, criticism of any kind.

(Thanks for the great translation of Angela Starkmann)