Project Management

The Agility Series

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The Agility Series focuses on agile and agility across the organization not just in software and product development. Areas of agility that will be covered in blog posts will include: - Organizational Agility - Leadership Agility - Strategic Agility - Value Agility - Delivery Agility - Business Agility - Cultural Agility - Client Agility - Learning Agility

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Guiding Principles for an Adaptive Organization

Reflections on 40 Years in IT - Agile by default!

InfoQ Podcast Interview of me on The Agility Series, Cultural Agility, and more

You might be a management red-neck if…

Strategic Debt  — What it is and how to avoid it

Value-centered Decision-Making

Categories: agile, leadership, strategy

Excerpt from The Adaptive Strategy Framework Guide

Defining and delivering on vision and strategy has been a hit and miss proposition for most organizations for many decades. The reason for this is twofold.

First, the world is not like it used to be; Traditional management thinking and its accompanying models rely on the notion that we can use the past to predict the future. This was the era of 3 to 5-year business plans. Change was slow, and at times imperceptible, and the problems they faced were mostly discrete.

Secondly, organizations are now operating in a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA). Additionally, customers expect more awareness and responsiveness by businesses that provide them with products and services.

A VUCA world means that organizations now face holistic messes rather than discrete problems. Traditional hierarchies are intrinsically ineffective in enabling the speed of decision-making required to lead at the pace of change. We don’t know what we don’t know and we have to stop the pretense that we do.

Rod Collins, in his forward to Agile Value Delivery: Beyond the Numbers said:

Handling these holistic messes has more to do with having the ability to rapidly adapt to ever-changing customer expectations than with minimizing variances in a fixed plan.

Handling holistic messes requires whole-of-organization approaches. These approaches must encompass iterative strategic direction setting, execution, validation, and adaptability.  It requires a mindset that embraces emergent thinking.

The window of opportunity to deliver Value into business operations has gotten increasingly shorter while the window of stability following Value delivery is immediately followed by the next set of challenges.

Solving holistic messes requires holistic solutions that recognize both the objective (goal-based) and subjective (perception-based) perspectives of value:

  • When an organization looks upon Value in the subjective sense it is said to be value-based
  • When an organization looks upon Value in the objective sense it is said to be value-driven
  • When an organization looks upon Value in both senses simultaneously it is said to be value-centered

Being value-centered enables teams of individuals:

  • to do the right things for the right reasons
  • in the right way
  • to achieve the right results
  • at the right times

Having clearly defined values and principles at an organizational level that also supports agile thinking creates the framework for cogent and coherent value-centered decision-making across an organization.

Clearly defined organizational values + organizational principles + agile thinking = making good decisions across the organization.

Do you or your organization practice value-centered decision-making?

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How to contact me:

  1. Send me an e-mail directly
  2. Follow me on Twitter: @cooperlk99
  3. Connect to The Agility Series Webinar Channel

Want to engage me and my friends:

  1. Check out our LinkedIn Group
  2. Check out our learning portal: www.MPlaza.ca - lots of free stuff plus some great courses on Scrum  and PRINE2 Agile. Go get The Adaptive Strategy Guide and Organizational Agility while you are there - both are FREE.
  3. We provide coaching and mentoring in Agile and Scrum for public and private sector clients. Contact me for more details
  4. We also offer classroom training  for Scrum.org courses plus other agile and Scrum training (http://bssnexus.com/education/)

Posted on: October 12, 2016 07:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

What are the 9 types of Agility in The Agility Series?

Categories: strategy

What are the 9 types of Agility in The Agility Series?

(First published on LinkedIN)

As some of you already know we have launched The Agility Series which will include eBooks (Organizational Agility is set launch in the next few weeks), guides, webinars, posts, a LinkedIn group, and soon tools as well. One of the recent members of our LinkedIn group asked me to tell him more about the 9 types of agility.

But before I do that a bit of a back story. Last year I was the lead author on a book called Agile Value Delivery: Beyond the Numbers which we were lucky enough to have endorsed by a co-author of The Manifesto for Agile Software Development. At the same time as I was writing that one I was also acting as the mentor for the PRINCE2 Agile (my pic and bio is just below that of the lead author - quite an honor) and was working on creating an Agile for Executives and Leaders course.

As I was laying out the course I felt the need to take a different approach than simply writing yet another executive overview of Scrum or basic agile the way most have done (there is value in those as well, I just wanted something different). Our book  had talked about Value agility and we also had a section on the implications of agile thinking on the rest of an organization with a particular emphasis on HR and Finance. So as I started writing the course I started to think about the 'rest of the organization' part. So that's where 8 of the 9 types came from which were then introduced in that course. The 9th type of agility came about while working with my friends at www.GreatWork.io and with our first wisdom council for the soon to be released Organizational Agility eBook. One of our council members, Claude Emond identified Learning Agility as a missing type so it was added to the list.

So, here are the 9 types of agility with a (still forming) definition for each type:

  1. Organizational Agility - Organizational Agility is what you get if the other eight types of agility are present. While that statement is true, what is also true is that how we define our organization through mission, vision, values, and  principles statements determines the organization that we get. While Mission and vision are specific to each organization,  values and principles statements can be more universal. For example think the Manifesto for Agile Software Development is applicable in any organization that does software development. The manifesto’s values and principles statements are  not specific to any single organization. So is, we believe, with the values and  principles of an agile organizations—there are some statements that have a universal applicability to them.
  2. Leadership Agility - will focus on helping leaders understand the differences between the traditional model and the one required to lead an agile organization in an ambiguous an uncertain world (will be tackled next)
  3. Cultural Agility - focuses on the culture of our organization while recognizing current contexts such as the five generations in the work force, the importance of diversity, as well as our values and principles. This supports the ‘who’ aspect of  delivery as well as the environment we want to create for success. We will be adding a tool very soon to our learning portal that focuses on the creating high-performing teams in support of cultural agility.
  4. Strategic Agility -focuses on ensuring we have unity in leadership and remain sensitive to emergent understanding as we execute against our strategic goals such that we can reallocate our people and resources as needed. This establishes the why of things. We have already released a companion guide for this one.
  5. Value Agility - focuses on prioritizing and incrementally delivering value through individual product deliveries that are in line with an organization’s strategic objectives and key stakeholder needs. This establishes the what and when
  6. Delivery Agility - focuses on making the right choices in each part of delivery to support the established priorities for value delivery. This establishes the how, who, and where
  7. Business Agility - focuses on improving efficiency and effectiveness in current business operations. This serves to both validate the value that has been delivered and also identifies new opportunities for creating value
  8. Client/Customer Agility - focuses on how we can create and maintain a shared understanding on the “why” question throughout delivery. It takes an outside-in view of the organization and why it does things - to satisfy customer needs
  9. Learning Agility - focuses on the people in your an organization and adopts the perspective of hiring people who have a growth mindset over a fixed mindset which means hiring to behaviours versus only hiring to skill. Hiring the behaviours which support your values and principles is a leading indicator of how well people will mesh into your culture. As an organization is a reflection of its people, if you want an agile organization t

As The Agility Series is still being written (both literally and figuratively) it remains to be seen whether we will stop at the 9 types or not as we don't know what will emerge from the work ahead. It also remains to be seen what the exact definitions will be for each type - the above is just our starting point.

So if you have not done so already, please come join the conversation - who knows, you might identify a new type that we need to add to our list. You will also have the opportunity to shape the currently remaining 8 types.

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How to contact me:

  1. Send me an e-mail directly : Larry. [email protected]
  2. Follow me on Twitter: @cooperlk99
  3. Connect to The Agility Series Webinar Channel
Posted on: June 13, 2016 08:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Adaptive Strategy Framework is out!

Categories: strategy

The Adaptive Strategy Framework is officially out on ProjectManagement.com - the live webinar attracted over 1200 attendees - I am truly humbled. 

Using The Adaptive Strategy Framework

We help leaders share intent,

for their people to solve holistic messes,

while networked teams proceed through uncertainty

To find out what it's all about look for the webinar to be posted in the next day under Webinars/On-Demand. 

To get a copy of the Framework itself head on over to our learning portal at www.MPlaza.ca - there's a link right on the main page. And best of all? It's free! 

We also announced that the first eBook in The Agility Series is nearing its final stages and will also be launched soon. And guess what? It'll be free too! Be watching your Inboxes for a webinar to coincide with the book launch. 

Yours in agility,

Larry

 

Posted on: June 01, 2016 04:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

What's your "red stapler"?

Categories: strategy

Originally posted on LinkedIn.

In the movie Office Space, the character Milton becomes so enamored with his 'red stapler,' that when he is deprived of his cherished possession, he follows through on his threat to “burn things” – which is this case was the office building where he worked.

For Milton he let his red stapler become synonymous with his self-worth as the only thing of value he had left after all of his job functions, and eventually his paycheck, were taken away from him.

I have often used the red stapler story and analogy when delivering Agile training to describe those remnants of traditional management practice that many people want to hang onto - even when it is clear they are no longer relevant or useful, or that in many cases they are an impediment to their ability to fully embracing Agile principles and practices. At worse, our red staplers can be so destructive to a team that it can lead them to abandoning Agile practices altogether.

For many project managers and PMO's, their red stapler can be their project management deliverables. While they may say they are doing Agile Project Management (I prefer Agile Project Leadership) or have created an Agile PMO, many of them in fact have a hard time letting go of traditional deliverables, planning techniques, practices such as status reporting, or metrics that don’t reflect or support Agile thinking and delivery, to name a few.

I have worked with some teams who take a proactive approach to rooting out their red staplers. I have seen other teams who don’t understand the issue, and don’t see the destructive aspects of hanging on to them.

If you are going to truly make the transition to Agile you need to figure out where your red staplers are hiding and root them out.

What do you think? Do you have your own “red stapler” which you are finding hard to let go of?

Posted on: May 13, 2016 12:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Four crucial questions for identifying Strategic Change

Categories: strategy

Previously published on LinkedIn.com

In my recent post on Strategic Planning versus Strategic Iteration I discussed three ways in which we need to adjust how we view strategy. In this short post I'll look at how we can identify the kinds of strategic changes we will need to undertake by asking four crucial questions. 

In our recent book Agile Value Delivery: Beyond the Numbers we offered up that "The primary reason for undertaking Portfolios, Programs and Projects is to enable the delivery of realizable Value into Business Operations". This is the recognition that the primary origin of change in organizations is because something in business operations is not working or that the organization is wanting to go in a different strategic direction; but it starts and ends in business operations.

We also discussed the fact that organizations now face holistic messes rather than discrete problems coupled with increasing rates of change. Leaders need to learn how to lead at the pace of change rather than trying to control change.

Strategic Iteration helps us take an adaptive approach to how we approach the resolution of these holistic messes based on an Observe-Orient-Decide-Act mindset. But how do we specifically identify what we need to change and how do we make needed refinements based on what emerges?

Many organizations and portfolio teams have figured out that you need to take a holistic view of your organization in order to identify required strategic changes. But how do they do that? It starts with asking four crucial questions:

  1. Where are we intending the strategic goals to be directed? Can be geographic, customer segments, distribution channels, etc.
  2. Who are the primary players for whom the goals will provide some benefit?
  3. What capabilities will be needed to do this and if we don't have them how will we acquire them?
  4. Which of our existing systems, processes, structures or policies may be affected?

The real fun, as they say, happens once you get started. Strategic Goals and Objectives are statements of intent not statements of a defined scope and plan that cannot be changed.

An Adaptive Strategy based in Strategic Iteration is an approach that allows us to continually refine both our strategic goals and strategic objectives as well as the strategic changes we are targeting based on what emerges once we start to execute our strategies. 

In our upcoming webinar on  June 1st at 12 noon EST we will be discussing our Adaptive Strategy Framework which organizations can use to answer these and many other questions using strategic iteration, rather than strategic planning to solve the holistic messes they now face, by continually refining their approach during execution based on feedback loops of what is working and what isn't.

The Adaptive Strategy Framework will be provided free for download from our website starting on May 25th.

What questions do you ask to identify the strategic changes you need to make to meet your organizations strategic goals? I'd love to hear about them.

Posted on: May 03, 2016 06:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)
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