Invitation vs. Imposition – Does it have to be such a STARK Delineation?

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Invitation vs. Imposition – Does it have to be such a STARK Delineation?

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I’ve been reading Dan Mezick’s posts lately and he seems to be increasing his passion and push about invitation. I guess that makes sense. He IS a thought leader in this space and, as such, he probably needs to keep trying to inspire others towards this way of thinking.

But each time I read one of his posts, it rings “extreme” to me. Very stark and binary. That is – one either imposes or invites. With seemingly nothing in between. With imposition being Darth Vader to invitations’ Luke Skywalker.

For example, in a recent series of posts, he seemed to rail against the existing community of agile coaches, trainers, and pundits that very few (none) of them are pushing invitation. And challenging them as to why.

It even seemed as if he was judging all of them (us, me) in this. That if you didn’t publicly espouse invitation the way Dan is doing it, that you were somehow not doing your duty or were less of a coach. Or you had succumbed to the Dark Side.

I’m paraphrasing here, but I think I’ve honestly captured the essence of it.

I recently saw a discussion initiated by Amr Elssamadisy. It seemed quite thoughtful to me and it resonated with my own experience.

Here’s a link to that post and the comments.

I considered it something in the “gray area” between imposition and invitation. Something that a thoughtful leader could navigate.

Amr directly asked Dan about his thoughts. And Dan shared them via a series of four comments.

I thought that Dan struck too binary of a stance in his reaction to Amr. That is, I’m wondering if he could be more moderated and open-minded to the possibilities of something positive between invitation and imposition? That is, are there circumstances where what Amr suggests might work? And what might those conditions be? 

What I’m really pushing on is the starkness of his view.

I also wrote a blog a while back that tried to focus a bit on the space between invitation and imposition. You can read it here.

In the end, I think Dan might be a tad too extreme. Sure, his ideas are:

But I don’t see them resonating in the real-world that leaders face today. And I don’t see sufficient trust in solid leadership to strike the right balance. Sure, many can’t do it effectively. But in my experience, many leaders can and they can inspire the results that Dan speaks to.

So, from my perspective, I’m publicly saying two things:

  1. An invitation is a powerful and often the best stance to create the space for agile change.

  2. BUT, it’s not the only approach. That is – the space in between can often be the way to go…

Amr, thanks for your insights. Dan, thank you for pushing us to consider better approaches!

Stay agile my friends,


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