Last month at the Paris Scrum Gathering, a colleague and I ran a workshop on designing an Agile organization using Lego. We have done this type of design modeling for several years now. We’ve learned a great deal about organizational dynamics by both going through this process ourselves, and facilitating organizational design with teams.
We licensed the method under Creative Commons and have made it available to everyone. We call it Whole-Team Dynamic Organizational Modeling. When teams engage in designing their own organizations, they are much more likely to accept the trade-offs they have to make in order to deliver their products and services to the market. No organization is perfect. Each model creates its own set of silos. Each model is tuned to be effective within a particular organizational culture. All solutions have a messiness that is unavoidable. The usual reason for re-designing an organization is improved throughput and higher value delivery to customers. Sometimes, the organizational design is crafted to achieve a specific outcome related to culture or product architecture. Goals vary, but the act of building and testing an organizational model reveals consistent insights.
You can find more information at wtdom.org, including a facilitation guide to help you plan and deliver your own modeling experience.
One reason bottom-up proposals fail is because idea champions don’t engage their executives in the right way. Whether you are promoting new methods, practices, tools, or cultural changes, getting your exec team on board can make all the difference.
Having influenced executives for many years, I’ve made my share of mistakes and had some successes. Here are a few things I learned along the way.
Last week I presented a talk on Co-creation at Agile2013. It was well received and at least for me, made it clear that co-creation is a challenging topic that requires intestinal fortitude to execute successfully.
Given the blistering rate of change, increasingly savvy consumers, and a noisy market, businesses must change the way they engage customers, particularly for new product innovation. Here, the requirements are nebulous, ever-evolving, and customers have as vague a notion of what they really need as their suppliers do. There are tools for navigating this grey-zone of ambiguity. One of them is co-creation.
“Our vision is to become a firm that pays the very lowest wages possible, charges the highest prices the market will bear, and divides the spoils between stockholders and executives, mostly the latter.”
Does that get you excited about…
- Coming to work?
- Doing business with this company?
This sample, from John Kotter‘s Leading Change is a reminder that for a vision to work, it has to be seen as something that everyone can get excited about–all stakeholders. And it has to be bold enough to drive people out of their comfort zone, and provide enough focus and targets to make business as usual uncomfortably impossible.
Read about a great example of a vision here.
What does your favorite vision of the future read like? Good or bad?
A classic use of Kanban is in field support. Trouble tickets arrive on their own schedule. Team members take a Kanban course or read a book. The team puts up a board, sticky notes, and watches as the tickets flow across the workflow, pretty much as they did before. No real improvement except that the manager can now claim that her team is using Kanban and there is greater transparency. (Everyone is happy, and now the team can tick off their “Agile” box–done.)
Traffic slows to a crawl on the Monash Freeway in Melbourne, Australia through peak hour traffic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Even when WIP limits are put in place, they are ignored. “This customer issue is too urgent so we have to exceed the WIP limit” is the logical and customer-focused rationale for the decision. A few weeks or months go by and the team has not stopped to examine why their activities do not flow faster. Kanban does not work. The flow data is not being parsed nor dissected to understand how to improve throughput. Does this sound familiar? Continue reading