Business Sabotage

While researching Agile principles, I came across an interesting historical document.  I wish that I remembered who originally shared it so that I could give them a hat tip since it is one of my favorite examples of how confused our view of work has gotten.  To understand its significance, it is important to give you a brief history lesson.  During World II, the predecessor to the CIA, the OSS, developed a manual to help Allied sympathizers in Axis countries disrupt the operations of those countries.  The link below is to that manual which has now been declassified and shared through the CIA’s website.

While interesting overall, read through the last two sections, which cover “General Interference with Organizations and Production” and “General Devices for Lowering Morale and Creating Confusion”:

Simple Sabotage Field Manual

Fascinating, isn’t it?  What I found odd was that this advice reads today like a Standard Operations Manual for many of the organizations that I have worked in and with.  What if current business wisdom is actually sabotaging our work?  In government, we can be especially prone to falling into some of these self sabotaging traps.  This is one reason why Agile methodologies appeal to me so much.

In contrast to this field guide, take a look at the Agile Manifesto, written in 2003.  Here is a quick comparison of just two items that stood out to me:

Field Manual – “Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.”

Agile Manifesto – “Working software over comprehensive documentation”

What other comparisons stand out to you?  Mention some in the comments.

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