Posts: Organization

Taking on your new VP role

May 17, 2020

Recently I was on a call chatting with a group of senior leaders and the topic of work life balance came up. More explicitly, how “now he seemed to have so much less time at the weekends”. Asking a few questions of the gentleman who brought this up identified that he had been newly promoted to a VP role.

Which got me thinking about the challenges as you move between roles in larger organizations. Expectations change as you move from an IC to manager to director to VP or above.

So I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts on the matter.

Balance

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Do I need a platform team?

Apr 27, 2020

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?

Platform Team

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Securing the value chain

Apr 6, 2020

This week I am going to focus on how we build a strategy to secure our software delivery processes.

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 so they can learn from customers. On the other, we want to stop the unwanted exposure of customer data through securing delivery. These two goals are at odds but, as with the adoption of DevOps practices over the past decade, integration is possible.

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

Matrix

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Coaching Distributed Teams

Mar 16, 2020

As the world goes into lockdown due to COVID-19 and organizations are asking their employees to work from home, new problems arise. Not least of which being whether the organizations we work for can handle the implications of everybody suddenly working from home.

The majority of my work is predominantly done remotely with the exception being when I am directly involved in team coaching or running workshops. I’ve also worked with and coached international teams and can understand the difficulties it raises. This is not a new problem, but it is one that is certainly front of mind as we scramble to deal with this crisis. Not everybody will thrive in a home environment, and at the very least, there is a period of adjustment. First, we need the necessities of internet connection, workspace setup and ensuring they can access the organizational system they need. Beyond that, for those people who usually do not to work-from-home, how do you handle coaching your suddenly distributed teams?

So, without further ado, and an awkward bumping of elbows, here are some thoughts on where to start.

Home Office

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Project vs Product

Mar 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.

Here's the product

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Identifying the bottleneck

Mar 2, 2020

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…

Bottleneck

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Continuous improvement of work and psychological safety

Feb 24, 2020

A few weeks ago, in the run-up to our inaugural Unicorn Meetup, I published a blog post covering the first two ideals from the Unicorn Project. You can read it here. This week, in the run-up to our next meet-up on March 11th, I’d like to continue the topic.

The next two ideals from the Unicorn project focus on two important factors of the delivery process:

  • Continuous improvement of work
  • Psychological safety

Part of the continuous improvement of work talks to the importance of challenging the status quo, something that can be difficult without psychological safety. Both are necessary to deliver better outcomes from working together.

Let’s delve into these two ideals.

Pic

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How to scale the transformation

Feb 17, 2020

Your organization is changing and undergoing transformation. You’ve rolled out Agile (Scrum and Kanban), you’ve scaled it (SAFe, LeSS, etc.) and even applied DevOps practices (you’re using Kubernetes right? Isn’t that DevOps?) Yet still, millions later, the purported value has yet to materialize.

So how come, after all this work, we still have not realized the value?

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, perhaps we are still stuck in old ways of thinking. Real transformation requires new ways of thinking about the problems and in the case of the examples above, have we really changed? (Kubernetes is an orchestration framework for containers and does not equate to having adopted DevOps).

With millions spent already, what are we missing?

Change

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Making Digital Transformation Stick

Feb 10, 2020

You have an idea, a spark, concept of how your organization could do things better. Now all you need is to work out how. A typical pattern from here is:

  1. Realize you need more information or organizational buy-in
  2. Engage consultants to show you how
  3. Consultants leave
  4. You implement and realize all your goals!

Except step 4 so often doesn’t happen. You have the report, you’ve confirmed what you thought and have a solid plan, but at execution, everything goes wrong.

So what can you do to help your idea succeed once the consultants are gone?

Sticky

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Application Modernization and Complexity Debt

Jan 27, 2020

Today I want to talk about a common digital transformation topic I get asked about, application modernization. More specifically, how everyone is doing it but so few successfully. Typically the conversation starts with one of the following:

  • “I need to move off my legacy system, how can I use containers to do this?”
  • “How do we move to a cloud-native microservice architecture?”
  • “We’ve been told to move everything to the cloud, how do we do that with thousands of applications?”

Often, my initial answer is another question: “Out of curiosity, how did you get to this as your solution?”

Strangely, at that point, it often falls off the rails.

I’ll answer these questions in more specifically at the end, today though I want to talk about complexity and the need to experiment.

One of the biggest problems here is that these are all solutions looking for a problem. While we hope they may be appropriate solutions, hope is not a strategy. On their own, there is not enough information to provide guidance and we need to look deeper.

Complexity

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Locality, Simplicity and Flow

Jan 20, 2020

The new book from IT Revolution, The Unicorn Project, brings together a number of interesting ideas. In the coming weeks, we are setting up a series of meetups to discuss these ideas from the book and how people look to apply them to their own projects. The first meetup is here.

One of the central themes of the book is around 5 ideals. These are:

  1. Locality and Simplicity
  2. Focus, Flow and Joy
  3. Improvement of Daily Work
  4. Psychological Safety
  5. Customer First

Ahead of each of the meetups I plan on writing a blog on the topics we plan on discussing. So first up, I’m diving into the first two ideals and how they might be applied. Let’s go!

Focus

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First steps in making your Digital Transformation matter in 2020

Jan 13, 2020

My favourite comment of 2020 so far is that this will be the year to see things clearly. This resonates well with our role at Xodiac in helping organizations with their digital transformations. Especially as we believe in the importance of creating visibility as the first step in the transformation.

In fact, with seemingly every company undergoing a digital transformation, there are three main requests we are getting from our clients.

  1. Having had some initial success, how do I scale?
  2. What do I need to continue to grow?
  3. How do I know I’m on the right track to achieve my goals?

Below I’ll give an overview of what we’ve seen help with these three concerns and how visibility is so crucial to all of them.

Telescope

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Overcoming Organizational Barriers to Change: Part 3 - Dealing with silos

Nov 20, 2019

When working with some of our larger customers, we frequently run into common barriers to change. Change is difficult and, no matter how often we say it, there is no silver bullet for how to get there. However, we can say there are commonalities in approaches, things we’d look for and actions we’d take in response to those findings. When we look at the delivery of technology within organizations, we often come across the barriers within how the teams are working, but even more frequently, how the organization is working with technology is the bigger barrier. Developing powerful roadmaps is valuable and greatly helps with generating alignment and a common vision.

In my last two posts, I spoke to blame culture and looking at the whole system. In this post, I’m going to talk through the third of three common organizational problems we encounter, dealing with silos and specialization.

Silos

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