I guess you’ve been in this situation: listening to a presentation of one of so called thought-leaders. It is a good presentation – after all, the person you’re listening to wouldn’t be considered a though-leader if he wasn’t able to deliver decent presentation. So you sit there and think “Heck, that’s how things should look like. He knows what he’s talking about. After all he’s a thought-leader. He can be trusted.”
Now imagine, exactly the same things are told you by your colleague next desk. This average girl who doesn’t speak much but is kind of obsessed about self-development and often reads all this strange stuff about project management. What would be your reaction? “You must be kidding me. That’s not going to work. Not in our organization. Oh, this may work in some of these start-ups, but not in our shop. Besides that all these things are just wasting of time.”
Same thing said – different reaction. Why? Well it’s all about authority. Your colleague has none and one of industry celebrities already leads the pack. But authority isn’t something I want to discuss now. You may be surprised but I believe you can actually choose wiser in the latter situation.
I’m going to be iconoclastic for a moment. Thought-leaders are the same people as we are. OK, they did something which brought fame, i.e. they were hanging around when agile manifesto was being signed or something. But since then they probably quit their jobs and started a consulting or training company selling their name and fame.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t say that’s a bad thing. I’d do exactly the same if I were in their shoes (and I’d really like to be in their shoes). By the way if you want me to quit the job and become outrageously overpriced independent consultant feel free to help in spreading the word about my work here on Software Project Management – I would really appreciate that. But I digress. Starting a consulting business actually is a kind of win-win. There are people willing to pay a guy for sharing his knowledge and he is a knowledgeable person indeed. The problem is he becomes a bit disconnected with real work.
Consulting is theoretical job. You go somewhere, you tell how things should look like in ideal world, you cash your check and you’re done. At the same time people you’ve taught take the knowledge, try to apply it in their specific environment and struggle to get any decent results. They just don’t work in ideal world. And their work is all about practice, not theory.
Don’t treat thought-leaders as they knew it all because they simply don’t. They can have a lot more knowledge and experience than your colleague or yourself, but they likely know nothing about specifics of your situation. In your unique case they may know nothing.
All posts of The Carnival of Agile Bullshit.