On Sunday, we started a tour that covers all of Russia. On the tour we’ll be covering entrepreneurship, start-ups, leadership and growth. I got the central institutions andministries, as well as the biggest banks on board. The lobbying process, in and of itself, would make a great short story, but that’s beside the point. To put it bluntly, we used both the carrotand the stick.
As I write this, we’ve put five cities in Tatarstan, Baskirstan and Siberia behind us. And I’veput a lot of effort into trying to understand IT startups. Funnily enough one of the biggestproblems is that Russian culture frowns upon failure of any kind. In a corporate context thismeans that an unbelievable amount of time and resources are spent on the testing, qualitycontrol and documentation of code. This is stressed in school, too. Basically, every little IT thing-a-majig is made like it’s responsible for managing the oxygen supply at the International Space Station. There is nothing wrong with this, per se, but in many projects this results in an imbalance between the code and customer-centeredness. In other words, the oxygen supply is secure,but customers have no idea which pipe it comes out of.
What comes your mind when you think about Siberia? For me it was snow, bears and large territories of unsettled lands. Only two seems to be correct. This week I was honored to bring new ideas to the Russian Startup Tour – the largest tour in the world made in a single country with the main purpose to motivate Russians to start new ventures and create jobs. So far tour took place in Naberezhnye Chelny, Ufa, Tyumen’ and Omsk continuing in 11 more cities.
Motivating people to start new ventures in Siberia is not easy, because region is very oil and gas rich and the most common career choice is working at the oil and gas companies. However, in the world where economy is global and dynamic it is very dangerous to be dependent on only one industry.
According to McKinsey & Company research, in order to overcome global economic slowdown and population aging Finland needs 200000 new jobs or 2000 growth companies like Rovio Angry Birds and Supercell. In Russia the number of the new growth companies needed is even higher.
Looking back at the last decades, one industry—the software industry—has fundamentally transformed how we live, communicate and work, heck, even how we relate and stay in touch with each other.
Nothing has been even remotely as transformative as the inventions software has brought us. Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook and LinkedIn have transformed both consumer and business world, reshaping complete industries with their innovations.
Creating this product called “innovation” has become not only a new way of production but has shaped the development and management of the organizations behind it.
Traditional project management (think GE and 6 sigma) has been the gold standard for planning and predictable execution in the past. And many of the principles learned and optimized are still good. They are just not sufficient in a world of increased complexity where change is constant, competition vigilant and customers eager to adopt the latest innovations.
In the software development world, traditional project management has been adapted, simplified, improved… evolved… into an agile approach, often described as “Scrum”. Scrum’s approach not only shortens feedback cycles and development times, it turns small teams into managers of their own fate. Is that so different from what we propose in “No Fear”? Not really. It goes to the heart of engagement and empowerment of the front lines.
Scrum and agile software development practices have been now well documented. Ken Schwaber, one of the co-developers of the Scrum process and signatories to the original Agile Manifesto from 2001, explains why “as complexity increases, central control and dispatching systems break down”. In such situations of increasing complexity, the traditional approach can only apply additional rigor to the system but oftenonly yields some limited short term success.