DL meetup: What are digital leaders made of?


The sixth meetup inaugurated a changed name to Digital Leadership and explored what Digital Leaders were made of, especially the concept of Respect for People.


Source: Edwards Deming's quote - includes in Jon Terry's talk

This meetup was the first of our rebranded meet-up with a fitting start as we talked about Digital Leadership.

We were pleased to welcome Jon Terry as our guest speaker. Jon covered "Continuous Improvements" as the first pillar of his house of Lean for IT during one of our past meetups, and we were thrilled that Jon accepted to cover the second pillar: "Respect for people" as part of this meetup. Jon is one of the few speakers that can converse Lean and Agile in the same sentence with simplicity and so much common sense. Jon related to his experiences when running LeanKit, and explained respect from the dimension of leadership and the dimension of the team. Respect needs to be mutual indeed. Jon spelt out the elements of achieving respect and explained how it is a core competency of digital leaders. While most people attribute Lean Thinking to Toyota Production System (TPS), a few are voicing an essential missing piece: Culture. Culture is a lot harder to codify and has generally been missed. Muda (waste) in Toyota was not about waste itself, but about empowering the workforce to improve the place of work and the products. Knowledge work on the production chain. Today, Tesla who tried to robotise most of the Model 3 production chain, discovered painfully that robots do not find continuous improvements. This, we believe, is at the core of Knowledge Work and ten times more relevant in IT than it is on a production chain.


We ran the second talk as a Lean coffee to invite conversation about the dimensions of digital leadership, though time got the better of us. We have captured the post-its, and we will address the point raised in our Slack channel. Agile is suffering from similar challenges to Lean when taking a perspective of Transformation. Transformation is anti-pattern to the evolutive nature of Lean or Agile. More to the point, it maintains the status-quo of top-down command and stops in its track any effort towards Respect for People. This issue is exacerbated in IT because it is full-on knowledge work by default and interweaves production work and innovation in every day, Complicated and Complex. It requires even more awareness from the leaders. If transformation is on the agenda, we should also address the new ways of Leading and how to transition to those by developing leadership intelligence and competencies.

Please see a download of the decks and videos (from SkillsMatter) at:



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