Disagreement on Common Sense Caused by Change of Age?

Why do some people see agile methods as common sense, while others see them as senseless? Why is it so natural for some people that development processes need to be broken down into stepwise descriptions of each step to take to arrive at a solution, while others say that this approach does not make sense?

In a speech at the “Systems Thinking in Action” conference in 1993, Russell Ackoff makes the case that we have entered a change of age – a paradigm shift. For Ackoff, this change is about a switch from a Machine Age to a Systems Age. Such a change of age is brought about when we discover enough problems that cannot be solved by the current mode of thinking.

When we start to notice this, we start to challenge the current world view. Gradually, the current view on the world is replaced by a new one, more suited to solve the problems of our time.

Maybe this is why agile methods seem obvious to some, and crazy to others? Maybe this is why we cannot agree on what constitutes common sense? If we have radically different views on the world, we’re bound to disagree like this.

Ackoff presents his argument using a beautiful tour through the history of the world, from the renaissance to today. Follow along in this transcript of his speech (PDF), which I highly recommend to anyone interested in agile methods and systems thinking.

Author: Tobias Fors

I'm a software management consultant. I help other people succeed with software development. In my work, I help teams and organizations be more effective and ship software.