Business Agility

Business Agility is not about products, increasing speed, adapting to customers, reducing cost or even employee empowerment its about creating the human cohesion that delivers all of these business desires and more it establishes behavioural change and a new flexible TOM.

Karl Smith CEO Paradigm Interactions Inc.

What is Business Agility?

Business Agility replaces traditional organisational structures and redefines the organisation of labour, departmentalisation, management and decision-making authority. In turn staff move from one type of specialisation an I type person to enable them a wider engagement and impact through T and X types of work involvement.

Enterprise Agility is about moving on from the Henry Ford model of departments and silos into an integrated way of working that naturally responds to customer needs.

Business Agility removes;

  • Functional departmentalisation
  • Geographic departmentalisation
  • Product departmentalisation
  • Technology platform departmentalisation
  • Customer / market departmentalisation

Business Agility adds;

  • A single accountable person for the outcomes of the work
  • Work type definitions with one pan organisation focus (customers is a common one)
  • Simplified, self-service and automated governance, components and outcome validations

Business Agility enables the business to be able to be first to market through innovation and invention by faster release of new ideas, products and services.

Business Agility combines the business and production into one end to end team (without silos) built around the delivery of Ideas to Customers showing tangible value that establishes the business as an engaged and responsive partner.

Karl Smith CEO Paradigm Interactions Inc.

DevOps3 slices through the business to align with the customer outcomes and situates everything together either permanently or by continuous alignment that is need to ensure that the customer outcomes are also everyone else’s outcomes.

Business Agility and DevOps3

There have been great strides in making Agile serve business outcomes through BusinessAgility and Business Agility in recent years however in some organisations existing stratified societies and impotent management structures are being rebranded without actual change.

How can you determine if real Business Agility exists in an organisation?

  1. There is a single point of governance for each critical oversight pan organisation and there are no localisations (local definitions are transparent centrally if critical).
    • Pan Organisation Outcomes (have a chain of custody and are always visible)
    • Pan Organisation Experience (is strategic sitting outside the Business and Technology setting experience outcomes and validating outcomes), the rise of the CXO to the Board
    • Pan Organisation Assurance (indication controls, security, resilience and continuity is unified)
    • Pan Organisation Architecture and Engineering (from framework to delivery is unified)
  2. The flow of work is transparent and measured on cycle time to ensure continuous optimisation from inception to value delivery (everyone stops delivering products and internal services) of verifiable outcomes.
    • The flow of work has a single oversight owner pan organisation regardless of the skills being used on it.
    • Outcomes and validation criteria are broadly set at Enterprise level with an overall budget to meet them.
    • The work flow is tightly connected to outcomes and validation criteria not budgets, work areas, people or processes.
    • The work can be stopped at anytime should it not be considered performant to outcomes or outcome change and the finances will not be lost just redirected.
  3. An exhaustive list is available as part of Consultancy from Paradigm Interactions Inc.

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Fail Fast, Fail Small to avoid Failing Big and Failing Slow #BusinessAgility

You would think by this late stage in the life of Agile and Agility that the concepts would be well embedded in organisational transformation, people assessments and processes. From my experience I’ve never seen Agile actually fail, I seen people pervert its meaning and make up their own versions then blame a framework for personal incompetence. Likewise I’ve not seen DevOps fail either.

There is something at the heart of business that hates the idea of being associated with failure in European culture. It’s not even logical as Socrates proposed a logical form that constantly tested (hence willingness even a desire to fail to find truth) by debate. The Socratic method is a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presumptions. Concern around failure relies on deep seated fears around not being able to prove worth and conversely the chance that any hint of failure transfers on to the person rather than the thing.

“Fail Fast, fail Small to avoid failing Big and failing Slow”

Fail Fast in organisational transformation, people assessments and processes

If your going to really take this on you should start at the beginning, planning the programme and making the case. Instead of getting some expensive consultants who want to try something in your company (no many how many times they say they have done it elsewhere) get one or two Agile DevOps strategists (these are certified Scrum practitioners) and get 60/100 of your staff from all levels into a room and do a two day hackathon. Will they hack your company, no they will hack the problem and hidden problems to define the ‘Problem Statement’ on day 1, on day 2 they will map out all the moving part to define the scope. Could it fail, absolutely, could it save 12 months of 6 consultants on £2500 a day absolutely.

Start at the beginning with people too, most management exists either to direct work (which should be automated or manage people who are not trusted) or to circumvent freakishly hard processes to get the most simple things done. If your planning on changing the emphasis in your company from hierarchy to teams and outcomes, you must offer the incumbents a way to revalidate themselves or they will actively seeking to cripple or pervert the programme to suit themselves. Quickly test the water with an alternative career path based on knowledge not prestige or headcount. See how many people will sign up to not having to manage people, be appreciated for their knowledge and be paid them same as now? You may be surprised.

Processes in this scenario begin to take care of themselves but its always go to run some ‘what if’ or ‘unhappy path’ testing too, to create checks and balances around change.

Fail Small in organisational transformation, people assessments and processes

When you have worked out your plan, don’t enact the whole thing choose a critical path (if thats what fits with your company targets), a happy path for customers or a low risk path and do the MVE, that’s minimum viable experience to success. Viability in transformation is really important and often missed, viability is the whole not the part in transformation.

“Don’t make a door handle that doesn’t unlock the door”

You’d think that would be impossible but the MVP of a door handle is a door handle that looks like a handle making the mechanism to open a door is the MVE. Often in a transformation people focus on rebranding, a new and more exclusive hierarchy, but that is just the look of things, making it work means that the people and machines that customers and colleagues interact with it, do so with higher quality, are quicker, traceable, with measurable delivery.

Fail Big and Slow

This is pretty much a description of most businesses in their current state though many would not see themselves that way. My first question to any organisation is ‘where do you get your money from’, ‘why do you get it’, ‘are there anythings expected of you to continue to get it’. Weather your a corporation, government organisation or corner shop, getting the money to operate and pay people is part of the clear line around purpose and value. When you have clarity on those compare your ideals with where you are now, are you failing steadily, but very slowly? If the answer is yes, you need help. Contact us here

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Speeding up the Wrong Work DevOps Maturity in Business Decisions #BusinessAgility

It’s a fact that common sense it not that common and is often not a factor except in reflection after the fact. If we could simply learn from each other rather than rely upon a uniqueness agenda, businesses would stop creating the same failure points with new language and excuses around it.

Digital is a form of communication with customers, where technology is the mechanism

Accepting that digital and its underwriting technologies is the common parlance of success in our world would greatly decrease business fostered failure. Additionally, if business would participate in digital and technology, joining the team, then the choice of work would get considerably better. After all its impossible to read people’s minds to understand their intent let alone their exact need, but if people are all in it together they work at being understood and understanding in a way that is foreign to hierarchical businesses.

Conspicuous success never belongs to one person or a figurehead but is the culmination of many people flowing and moving together over a problem or outcome statement. The business driver for success through innovation in existing capabilities, the desire to drive engagement and in many ways validation of existence create a huge level of waste. There are now other ways to do things that add value to the company and validate its purpose and more importantly its people. DevOps having started in engineering is spreading from the tactical into the strategic. However, without a bottom to top transformation in business values DevOps will only deliver the wrong work quicker.

Businesses need quality not quantity of ideas

What’s essential in Business is quality not quantity of ideas, anyone can come up with an idea, but one that meets not just one but several outcomes for several actors (business, shareholders, regulators, customers etc.) holds quality at its core. These are the ideas that deliver conspicuous success, but they don’t arrive fully formed and ready to go, they need a cross organisation effort to refine them. The quality of ideas should be able to be challenged by any part of a business and still go forward on their merit not the position of the originator. What about those that can’t, well they need to be worked through, modelled combined with other ideas, placed on hold sometimes, the critical path is to only commit design and production capability that is the right work at the right time.

Thinking first, not Digital first

The people doing the thinking around ideas should be the people who can add value to them, by refining them, by challenging them, by modelling them as outcomes (without solutions or delivery mechanisms), by taking them to targeted customers* to test the ideas. In this way ideas can be checked to see that they are the right ones, only then can they be converted into increments of minimum viable experience (MVE).

Service Design*, not Design Thinking

Only by having ideas added to and evaluated by people who can implement and understand at the coal face their impact can ideas really be understood and prioritised. The final barrier to success is always ego, even putting the whole capability of an organisation into defining, refining and producing the work, will only be effective if leadership will trust their own hiring and release products and services to the market without interfering with them.  Delivering the minimum viable experience (MVE) will ensure customers and colleagues are not confused about the business intent and the communication remains “here’s something useful”. Until the work is fully understood and derived from the right ideas at the right time Businesses will continue to expose their lack of maturity and DevOps will speed up the delivery of the wrong work.

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