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Jurgen Appelo calls himself a creative networker. But sometimes he's a writer, speaker, trainer, entrepreneur, illustrator, manager, blogger, reader, dreamer, leader, freethinker, or… Dutch guy. Since 2008 Jurgen writes a popular blog at, covering the creative economy, agile management, and personal development. He is the author of the book Management 3.0, which describes the role of the manager in agile organizations. And he wrote the little book How to Change the World, which describes a supermodel for change management. Jurgen is CEO of the business network Happy Melly, and co-founder of the Agile Lean Europe network and the Stoos Network. He is also a speaker who is regularly invited to talk at business seminars and conferences around the world. After studying Software Engineering at the Delft University of Technology, and earning his Master’s degree in 1994, Jurgen Appelo has busied himself starting up and leading a variety of Dutch businesses, always in the position of team leader, manager, or executive. Jurgen has experience in leading a horde of 100 software developers, development managers, project managers, business consultants, service managers, and kangaroos, some of which he hired accidentally. Nowadays he works full-time managing the Happy Melly ecosystem, developing innovative courseware, books, and other types of original content. But sometimes Jurgen puts it all aside to spend time on his ever-growing collection of science fiction and fantasy literature, which he stacks in a self-designed book case. It is 4 meters high. Jurgen lives in Rotterdam (The Netherlands) -- and in Brussels (Belgium) -- with his partner Raoul. He has two kids, and an imaginary hamster called George. Jurgen has posted 145 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

The Nonsense of the Judging Your Org's Maturity Level

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EvaluationsPlease tell us, what is your maturity level, as a person? Are you still at level 1 or 2? Or do you belong to the elite group of people who have achieved level 4, or even 5? And can you please put that number on a badge that you will wear all the time? Because that would make it so much easier for the others to decide if they want to hang out with you.

Oh, you find this ridiculous? Insulting maybe?

Then why are you interested in the maturity levels of organizations?

Organizations are living systems. Assigning one rank (a maturity level) to an entire organization is just as useless, and potentially offensive, as assigning one single rating to me, Jurgen Appelo, for everything that I am, produce, and stand for. It flies in the face of complexity thinking. (OK, I’ll be fair: Some models do indeed offer different numbers, but many consultants and businesses prefer to work with just one rank.) Therefore I don’t believe the way maturity models are used in business is the proper way to address and assess professionalism in organizations. Instead of classifying entire organizations, we should classify only specific activities performed by specific people.

- Jurgen Appelo, Management 3.0, page 220

Looking at myself, I’d guess my “maturity level” in the area of administration and logistics is 3 (out of 5). And for writing it’s probably the same. When it’s about reading it might even be a 4. On the other hand, in the area of interpersonal communication it’s certainly not more than a 2. And I’m not even going to tell you my maturity level regarding account management or personal workouts.

So, what is my maturity level as a self-employed knowledge worker?

Do I take the average of all these numbers?

If we can’t even define one maturity level for a person, then how should we “measure” one for a network of people, an organization, or a business?

Next time a consultant suggests that your company has a maturity level, you can reply that you have just identified one of the consultant’s many different maturity levels. In the area of complexity thinking he scores a solid 1.

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Jurgen Appelo. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)