09 May A debrief of our open space presentation at Business Agility Conference 2018
Four key enablers of Business Agility
Last month, at the Business Agility Conference 2018 at the Convene (New York), we had the opportunity to present the launch of the updated, second edition of ‘The Lean Playbook‘ with american co-author, Manjit Singh.
Manjit and I also had the chance to speak at the open space on Friday 16th. It was set up so anybody could present ideas, concepts or run any simulations or games with the audience. A great way to increase interactivity, I should say.
The topic we chose for our presentation was ‘Four key enablers for Business Agility’, in which we summarized in 30 minutes what we believed are, probably, the four areas anybody needs to get right if they want to pursue true business agility in their companies. These four enablers are applicable to any end to end value stream, regardless of the nature of the work they do (knowledge work, including software development, or not).
#1 – Constant flow of information on customer interactions to feed work priorities and product roadmaps
Here we spoke about the following:
- The inability of organizations to capture, incorporate and make sense out of hundreds or thousands of interactions they have every day with customers. Customer support, account management, product owners, even developers and other actors interact constantly with customers but these exchanges are not collected anywhere.
- There is a strong need to get first a common repository where this is all centralized and distributed to the proper value stream owners, so they can take the relevant decisions to plan and adjust work priorities for the next release.
- This is also important so at any given point, anybody in the value stream can trace back any item being developed to the source – i.e. the customer feedback or interaction that initiated this need. That’s absolutely essential for team members to understand why things are being done and agree with them.
#2 – Cross-functional, autonomous, self-organized and empowered teams, 100% accountable of their value streams
On #2 we spoke about the following:
- The need of breaking down silos and structure your organization based on a consistent logic that can mitigate hand-offs and friction between teams and bring them onboard to the same collective goal: serving a customer segment or a specific product area. This responds to the psichological need we humans need to have to serve a greater purpose and align ourselves towards it.
#3 – Shared and collective KPIs and goals to enforce collaboration between silos within the same value stream
On the KPI aspect, we discussed the following:
- Do KPIs drive behaviors or not? Essentially, they do not, if that is the only measure that is taken to enforce collaboration between teams, but if you support an organizational re-structuring like the one depicted in #2, with assigning a considerable percentage of people objectives to collective goals, it can really help teams forget their silo mentalities and focus on improving the value stream as their priority too.
#4 – Organizational flexibility and adaptability to increase operational readiness
And finally, on #4, we argued about the following:
- How operational readiness is restrained because of the lack of a more agile budgeting model, where teams can be ramped up or down quickly when new, unplanned demands that might mean a significant grow for the company, come, both with internal resources (by moving budget and resources from one value stream to another) and with external resources (agilizing recruitment and procurement processes so they can start working on getting these resources before budget is formally granted).
These insights, and more, are discussed in our book, and more will come in our digital version!