The Olympic sprinter is the perfect metaphor for the lean-agile enterprise. Being small is not sufficient for winning in a sprint. Being strong is not sufficient for winning in a sprint. Speed and agility are the outcome of a pursuit of mastery around which everything else is valued (including size, speed, and composition). The agility of the sprinter is the rate at which an incorrect or suboptimal step or technique is noticed and corrected while remaining in motion. It requires that the billions of near-instantaneous corrections in balance, force, positioning, and movement have been so intensely practiced that it can occur with very little thought. The athlete achieves flow.
Perhaps that’s where the metaphor scares some people. It suggests that when a Superorganism achieves mastery and fulfills its purpose, when a company is winning, in a state of “flow”, the brains of the company, the leader, in that moment becomes a passive observer of self-fulfillment.
If you want to win in the software industry, that exactly how you must lead. Discipline, practice, continuous improvement, repetition, until you reach a state of economic flow. Your eye on the finish line is all that is necessary and the body – through proper resources, experience, and focus – does the rest.