Agile Chain
Agile Chain

Thinking in boxes

One principle of the agile philosophy is to assign:

  • people to tasks and

  • not tasks to people.

The starting point is tasks. They need to be done in a prioritized order. So ideally, people pull the tasks with the highest priority and get them done. Tasks are fix and people need to be flexible.

The opposite of this agile and good approach is ‘thinking in boxes’. Boxes represent job responsibilities of people and tasks are pushed to them according to their job responsibilities. This has two major drawbacks:

  1. Obviously, you need somebody who pushes the tasks (e.g. a manager), which is less efficient in comparison to people just pulling the tasks themselves according to priority.

  2. People, in this approach, are fix and tasks needs to be flexible. As a result a task is pushed around until it (hopefully) finds a person whose job it is to do it. If not, the tasks is not done — even though it may be of high priority.

It is clear that the ‘thinking in boxes’ approach is not only inefficient, as it requires an extra manager. This approach also runs the risk that high priority tasks may not be allocated and will not be done simply because they do not find a box into which they belong.

Especially environments with changing requirements and customer requests will always generate tasks that do not fit existing boxes — and it will take extra time until they are addressed. You see, that structuring a company with boxes and ‘thinking in boxes’ will never result in an agile organisation.

Version 1.0.0

© Prof. Dr. Ulrich Andersprof.anders@online.de

Last change: 2023-10-03|19:26


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