It’s one of those words that come back over and over again in context of modern delivery approaches and organizational structures. The word seems common enough to mean approximately the same in people’s minds, however I have found that it is often confused for something else. According to Merriamm-Webster, autonomy is the quality or state of being self-governing. This distinguishes it from the term empowerment, which is the state of being empowered to do something. In other words, autonomy is an internal property - it comes from within -, while empowerment comes from someone’s approval.
Autonomous teams make their own decisions, they do it based on their objectives and all the relevant information they have available about the world around them. Empowered teams also are told to do exactly that. However, the scope of their decision making power - sometimes explicit, more often implicit - limits their autonomy significantly and can even shrink should a decision be made that does not align...
Almost daily I receive at least one phone call from some agency wanting to sell their website building services, triggered by domain registrar information. I have developed a way to quickly get to the point and waste less than 30 seconds of my or the caller's time. I understand the caller is doing their job, I try to do mine. All is professional and we can both go on with our work.
Just this morning though, I was triggered... As I pick up the phone, I was greeted by "Can I speak to the business owner over there?", in a way that clearly demonstrated disdain for those picking up the phone. I could only respond "Over there?" and annoyed I put the phone down. No opportunity to quickly align on the purpose of the call, share our expectations and go on with our day. No opportunity for the caller to learn and improve. Definitely no opportunity for this company to ever sell any service to us.
First impressions rarely make a relationship, but they can definitely break one.
Relationships are built...
We made it! Over the past several weeks, we’ve discussed the benefits of improving business agility and the obstacles that can get in the way. What have we learned? In good business agility fashion, here is a summary of the topics we’ve covered:
Business agility practices encourage building a learning organization.
The sooner you learn from your customers, the quicker you can verify you are on the right track.
People come first as business agility is first and foremost a shift in mindset.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the benefits and obstacles and tie everything all together.
Business agility helps you build resilient systems, as we’ve described in this previous article. Resiliency helps manage risks and keep systems available even under stress. In this article, we want to highlight the corollary of why business agility needs resilient systems to succeed.
If you want to learn more about what makes a system resilient, check out this article.
As we’ve mentioned in a previous article, business agility can create a culture that increases retention and morale. While business agility can do this, it requires that leadership puts their people first. Here are three practices to help you focus on your people.
Recently I was talking to one of our customers about how they feel about our services. This reminded me again of Dave and my conversation on the Definitely, Maybe Agile podcast on this very topic. Which is indeed the topic of this latest entry in our business agility series: why business agility needs customer interaction.
As we have in previous weeks, we will highlight three areas of consideration on this important topic, building on last week’s topic of business agility success depends on feedback loops.
Now we’ve known this for decades. It has been common knowledge that it is an essential skill to frequently ask your customers to guide your direction yet, perhaps in recent years it has become truly essential. We see companies that if they take their eye off the ball can find themselves becoming obsolete extremely quickly. The pace of change is only accelerating.
Whether individually or for an organization we have a tendency to spread our focus to multiple projects at the same time. The illusion of efficiency this creates is fulfilling. After all, it is fun to start something new, we get a rush of engagement and learning. Whereas finishing a task comes with much more peril. If it is a task we enjoyed, we’ll be sorry to have finished, and if it is one we hate, we’ll want to find something else to start on. While starting a new task gives us a sense of achievement and moving forward, in fact, it slows us down.
In this week’s article on business agility, we will be exploring how confusing having lots of work underway with moving quickly. Put another way, confusing speed with focus. This is important as the sooner you can deliver value to your customers, the sooner you can learn. In turn, this prevents teams from reaping the benefits of business agility practices, such as reducing delivery costs and increasing revenue. Below we discuss three ways in...