Musings about Value Streams

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Directing Flow

Peter Maddison
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.

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Automating Governance

November 30, 2020

Governance is something of a dirty word. It often generates a visceral reaction in people, conjuring up images of red tape, bureaucracy and time-consuming audits. These are seen as roadblocks to progress, innovation and adoption of new ways of working. This is especially true when we are looking to accelerate the rate of change or delivery speed, such as commonly occurs when adopting DevOps or Agile practices.

Below, I will discuss why we have governance, how it gets applied and some immediate approaches you can look at to help change your ways of working.

Purpose

Let’s start with the purpose of governance. Governance practices intend to manage risk. I sometimes hear that “this doesn’t apply to me. I’m in a small start-up,” but all organizations, whatever their size, need to manage risk. In one form or another, we are all subjected to governance. In larger organizations, we have added complexity to deal with in creating and managing risk. It is also true that heavily regulated industries ...

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...

Whether we are working from home or our offices, the challenge of ensuring the secure delivery of business value to our customers is a difficult one.

On the one hand, we need to enable our teams to deliver value quickly as this increases our ability to learn from our customers. On the other hand, we want to stop the unwanted exposure of customer data by ensuring secure delivery. These two goals may seem at odds. After all, a high-rate of change increases the chance something goes wrong. This results in a natural tendency to want to slow down the delivery process. However, there are ways to ensure you get both speed and safety.

Let us look at some of the common failure patterns and how to approach creating a strategy to remediate.

Project vs Product

March 9, 2020

We talk about this a lot but do not always do a good job of explaining why it is so important. I would argue not understanding this difference and developing this mindset can cause your whole transformation to stall.

So what do we mean when we say project vs product and why is it so critical?

Read below for my thoughts on the topic.

Often when we first engage with organizations, we find they enter the conversation with a clear idea of what their problems are. Sometimes they get it right and other times - more often in my experience - they are focusing on their own belief of where the problem lies.

For example, if the problem is the deployment process, why does the automated script take 5 minutes to run. Having successfully worked with development teams to automate deployments of their major platforms, being told deployment is the issue seems like the wrong place to focus. If it still takes weeks to get code into production, the problem lies elsewhere. Perhaps our test verification takes five weeks?

Ok. Well, if deployment of code isn’t the issue and testing is, let’s focus there I hear the cry! Well, let’s see…

Last Friday I presented a session on outcome based metrics at the Lean Agile Network meetup in Toronto. Based on the popularity of the session and the questions which we didn’t have the time to address, the topic is clearly on many people’s mind. More to come on metrics in future posts, but for now we’ll focus on what you can learn from the simplest metric of them all: throughput.

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