Musings about Systems Thinking

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In previous posts, we discussed what you can learn about your team from tracking a minimum of data. We introduced throughput as the most meaningful metric you can get from only the completion time of a work item. In a subsequent post, we explained how you can calculate cycle time and work in progress by tracking the start time of a work item. In this post, we focus solely on how to calculate failure demand and what it tells you about the true delivery capacity of your team.

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The Greek philosopher Heraclitus was onto something when he said many years ago that

Change is the only constant

A saying as true today as it was for Heraclitus in Ancient Greece.

Today, businesses are impacted by change. Competitors introduce new capabilities or services, customers' loyalty shifts from brands towards value propositions, and new and exciting players disrupt the market altogether.

Directing Flow

January 5, 2021

Introducing organizational change is a tricky business, especially when it involves new technology. Even seemingly innocuous changes to technology can have a far-reaching impact on your organization, disrupting the ways you work. Your initial vision of a smooth implementation, rapid adoption, and a high return on investment is easy to say, not so easy to achieve. For example, it is widely discussed that 70% of transformations fail.

Continuous improvement is at the heart of any agile approach. But where do we start? And how can we know that our improvement initiatives are moving the needle? This blog post expands on the ideas from what throughput can tell you about your team and provides some additional thoughts to help you truly embrace the following principle from the agile manifesto:

At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.


Well-designed metrics provide your team with insight into where to focus and look for improvement opportunities. They also provide you with a baseline, a measuring stick to assess any improvements.

In a previous post, I focused on what we can learn from a metric as simple as throughput. Here we take it a step further.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Most transformations do not deliver upon their intended results. Many of these transformations use sound agile methodologies, yet they fail to deliver on the expected results. DevOps came along and refocused the effort, but still, we run into difficulty with transformations stalling or even failing.

Current thinking puts the development (aka. delivery) team front and center in the transformation to rapidly enable the delivery of value to customers. For a team, they need to be able to have all the right skills and capabilities at the disposal so they can own their delivery processes. In complex environments with multiple architectural principles at play, this can be difficult to achieve. To cope with this, we create another team, the platform team, to enable the delivery team.

The question is, do I need a platform team?

How many of you have been through something labelled as a digital transformation in the past 5 years? Many hands go up, and several people groan. It seems like we are in a constant state of transformation, which is true. Change is the new normal and transformation is the grandiose title given to the work we build around it. 

Yet many transformation efforts stall or even fail. We encounter many reasons for this, including market pressure, hierarchy and blame culture. Even gut instinct being the primary way to make decisions comes into play! Core to most digital transformation efforts is aligning technology to business goals, which often creates problems with delivering the desired change due to their different goals.

When technology departments drive the transformation, they often need help explaining the value. Ensuring stability to reduce rework through innovative techniques and tools may not resonate. Still, we do require change through transformation for our businesses to thrive. With...

We rarely find the time to invest in personal development when we are heads down in our work and lives. Often it only occurs when a situation where something outside of our control frees up time. Even then, it takes an effort to invest in our personal development. However, it is you. You who always wanted to improve but never found time or resources to do it. It is you who has this opportunity to invest in your future today!

With the economy having slowed to a point where many organizations either have to fire staff or find them not fully occupied, this is the perfect moment to invest in that improvement there never was time for previously. Perhaps this is the time for your teams to be engaged in a program x-raying your delivery process, identifying initiatives that will set you apart from the competition, and enabling you to come out of this crisis ahead.

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