Tag Archives: review

Review : Turn the ship around!

9780241250945-480x600In this business novel – Turn the ship around! A true story of turning followers into leaders – the author David Marquet shows you his journey as Captain on the nuclear submarine USS Santa Fe. He had the guts to lead in a completely different way. Top-down leadership sometimes endangered the men. He decided to give his men the control themself: with amazing results.

Marquet describes the traditional top-down management as the leader-follower model in which the followers have limited decision-making powers and where they are barely encouraged to make the most of their intellect, energy and passion. The follower has learned that he must rely on the leader who takes all the decisions, instead of fully focusing on the work process in order to keep the organization running as smoothly as possible. In contrast, the author sets the leader-leader model that not only brings improvements in terms of effectiveness and morale, it also makes the organization stronger and more agile.

The book consists of 29 chapters and is further subdivided into four parts. Each section describes a phase in the author’s struggle to change the way of working on board of the Santa Fe. In the first part Starting over, letting go of old ideas is central and we get an insight into the frustrations, questions and ultimate rejection of top-down leadership (Pain, Business as Usual, Change of Course, Frustration, Call to Action, “Whatever They Tell Me to Do!” and “I Relieve You!”).

In the following parts (control, competence and clarity) the bridge to the leader-leader structure and accompanying support pillars is described. The bridge is control, divesting control to others in your organization while keeping responsibility. Here it is necessary that you have competent workforce that understands the organization’s purpose.

Turn the ship aroundIn Part II Control (Change, in a Word, “Welcome Aboard Santa Fe!”, Under Way on Nuclear Power, “I Intend to…”, Up Scope!, Who’s Responsible?, “A New ship”, and “We have a Problem”) a number of basic control mechanisms are discussed to be able to work according to a leader-leader structure, including searching and rewriting the genetic code for control, acting your way to new thinking, conducting short, early conversations, resist the urge to provide solutions, eliminate top-down monitoring systems, think out loud and embrace the inspectors.

Part III Competence (“Mistakes Just Happen!”, “We learn”, Under Way for San Diego, All Present and Accounted For, and Final Preparations) shows that it is necessary for people to be technically competent to make the decisions they make. On a submarine this means specific understanding of physics, electricity, sound in water, metallurgy and so on (compare this with the engineering culture necessary for agile transitions in software or product development). In this part, the following competency mechanisms such as take deliberate action, learn everywhere and all the time, certify everything, don’t brief, continually and consistently repeat the message and specify goals, not methods.

In the final part IV Clarity (Under Way for Deployment, A Remembrance or War, Leadership at Every Level, A Dangerous Passage, Looking Ahead, Combat Effectiveness, Homecoming, A New Method of Resupplying, and Ripples) it becomes clear that to be able to push down authority, in addition to control it is becomes increasingly important that everyone understands what the organization is about. This section deals with a number of clarity mechanisms such as achieve excellence, build trust and take care of your people, use your legacy as a source for inspiration, use guiding principles for decision criteria, use immediate recognition to reinforce desired behaviors, begin with the end in mind and encourage a questioning attitude over blind obedience.

The actual story starts 25 days to change of command and then we get a description of the 172 days to deployment of the Santa Fe, provided the submarine passes through the strict inspections and it does. The Santa Fe was the worst performing ship (poor morale, poor performance and the worst retention in the fleet) and became the best performing ship of the fleet. There are 135 men on board of whom the most important persons with name and function are described. The story reads smoothly and each chapter is closed with a number of questions to consider.

Again a book that I can recommend to managers of organizations on their way to achieve more agility and it definitely makes sense that it is recommended within SAFe too.

The book also contains a number of references to websites, including www.leader-leader.com and www.davidmarquet.com where you can find additional material such as articles, a step-by-step plan, an assessment, et cetera can be found.

To order: Turn the ship around!

9780525534693-480x600The companion workbook – The turn the ship around! workbook. Implement intend-based leadership in your organization – written by L. David Marquet with Andy Worshek will help you to implement this leader-leader structure (intent-based leadership) in your organization. You get a lot of questions, exercises and activities on how to delegate and inspire for each of the chapters in the main book. It will show you how to to build a work community based on personal responsibility and trust. The workbook ends with the Intent-Based Leadership Manifesto

To order: The turn the ship around! workbook

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Review HBR May-June 2018, Agile at scale

HBRIn this interesting article Agile at scale – How to go from a few teams to hundreds the authors Darell K. Rigby, Jeff Sutherland, and Andy Noble give insights in their study of scaling up of agile at hundreds of companies.

Some key take aways:

  • Leading agile by being agile, don’t use top-down plans and directives to scale up
  • Create a taxonomy of teams. Break the taxonomy into three components – customer experience teams, business process teams, and technology teams – and then integrate them (see picture)

HBR Agile at scale

  • Get agile rolling. Launch an initial wave of agile teams, gather data on the value those teams create and the constraints they face, and then decide whether, when, and how to take the next step (test and learn cycle)
  • Sequence the transition. Don’t make the mistake of going for easy wins. You have to create a learning environment or organizational changes necessary to scale dozens or hundreds of teams
  • Big bang transitions are hard. Require total leadership commitment, a receptive culture, enough talented and experienced agile practitioners to staff hundreds of teams without depleting other capabilities, and highly descriptive instruction manuals to align everyone’s approach, a high tolerance of risk along with contingency plans to deal with unexpected breakdowns. It’s often better to roll out agile in sequenced steps, with each unit matching the implementation of opportunities to its capabilities
  • No agile team should be launched unless and until it is ready to begin. The team is:
    • Focused on a major business opportunity with a lot at stake
    • Responsible for specific outcomes
    • Trusted to work autonomously – guided by clear decision rights, properly resourced, and staffed with a small group of multidisciplinary experts who are passionate about the opportunity
    • Committed to apply agile values, principles, and practices
    • Empowered to collaborate closely with customers
    • Able to create rapid prototypes and fast feedback loops
    • Supported by senior executives who will address impediments and drive adoption of the team’s work
  • Master large-scale agile initiatives with teams (of teams) of teams
  • Building agility across the business
    • Not every function needs to be organized into agile teams, but ensure that the functions that don’t operate as agile teams support the ones that do
    • Push for greater change in four areas: agile values and principles (agile and traditional teams), operating architectures (modular approach), talent acquisition and motivation (you need expertise combined with enthusiasm for work on a collaborative team, coaching, public recognition, team reward, …), and annual planning and budgeting cycles (annual cycles constrain innovation and adaptation, view decisions as opportunities to purchase options for further discovery, …).

Review: The DNA of strategy execution

9781119278016-480x600During the PMO 2018 Conference in London, where I was one of the speakers, I met Jack Duggal who wrote the book The DNA of strategy execution – Next generation project management and PMO. Jack gave the opening keynote speech Next-Generation PMO: The Future of the PMO in a DANCE world. During my flight back home I started reading the book.

Jack uses the DANCE acronym to characterize today’s business environment. It is Dynamic and changing, Ambiguous and uncertain, Nonlinear, Complex and Emergent and unpredictable, driven by disruptive factors and shifting stakeholder needs and priorities. DANCE is comparable but broader than VUCA (Volatile, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity).

The author uses a complexity continuum (simple – complicated, complex – edge of chaos – chaos) where in the simple and complicated domain you can use SPEC (Scope-Plan-Execute-Control) to manage linear, well-defined stable situations and in the other domain you have to manage the unexpected by using an organic approach. You must cultivate skills to Sense, Respond, Adapt and Adjust (SRAA). Note: same domains as we find in Snowden’s Cynefin model.

DNA contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms. Jacks asks and answers the question in this book if you could decode the DNA of effective strategy execution and what this means for project management and the PMO. He sees strategy, execution (the two foundational strands) and governance, connect, measure, change, learn as DNA elements. The context and customer focus is the operating environment in which the DNA thrives. See the Quick Reference Card I created to summarize this book. I added Simplicity as an additional element and each element has its own chapter in the book.

QRC (DNA, 180622) v1.0To download: QRC (DNA, 180622) v1.0

Strategy with strands: Diagnosis the pain, make choices to minimize spending, design the selection and prioritization criteria, decide and commit appropriate action and evolve to adapt and finetune the criteria based on evolving strategy). Where to play, how to win, and what to do and, more importantly, what not to do, then selection and prioritization (based on business fit, strategic fit, rewards, risks and resources) of initiatives and projects in a coherent way. 

Execution with strands: Develop your people‘s talent and skills: artistry, DANCEing, changemaking, connecting, learning, entrepreneurial). You need an adaptive platform of enabling processes, technology as enabler (tools, systems, apps and bots) and work that flows through organizational channels (pooled, sequential, reciprocal and adaptive flow).

Governance with strands: To define and establish you need a steering body, standards are needed to establish a foundation of stability, effective policies/procedures for each of the DNA elements can expedite the flow of execution, use gates as decision points as a project or program progresses, use review/audit to assess the status, you have to be cognizant of the compliancy issues, unclear responsibility and accountability lead to confusion and delays, clear definition and limits of authority is a pillar of sound governance and clear decision rights result in effective actions (recommenders, agreers, performers, input, deciders) and simple rules/guidelines can help to steer in the right direction in complex situations (boundary, prioritizing and stopping rules).

Connect with strands: lists what to connect – customers/stakeholders, silos, business, interfaces & interdependencies – with the how – networks and connections, marketing communications (marcom), relationships, and community and collaboration. The Stakeholder empathy map is a nice tool as a replacement for a stakeholder profile.

Measure with strands: You have to know how to define success. Objectives help to define success and key results help to measure it (are you a Ben or BoB, Ben stands for Benefit: measure output and Bob stands for Benefit of the Benefit: measure outcome). How do we report (present and communicate) the measures and metrics to influence desired action, and are we learning and adjusting (double-loop learning).

Change with strandsAwareness helps to better sense and prepare for the consequences of the change. Anticipation takes it further to develop capabilities to anticipate what we cannot see currently, particularly the unintended consequences of the DANCE – dynamic, emergent, and unpredictable changes. The PMO must do enough to assess and prepare for change readiness and the absorption of the change. Execution or implementation alone is not enough. Without adoption, implementation has no value. We should start by understanding the customer? What does the customer need? What do they like and dislike? What motivates them? The choices that you provide to the customer help in paving the path and help to design the structure toward desired outcomes. Structured checklists can also help to pave the path toward greater adoption. To connect you need to frame memorable and sticky messaging and communicate it in a relevant way. When a senior leader have to start something new or any kind of change, the cannot do it on their own. They need the connectors, many agents at different levels that are infecting other and spreading the positive virus.

Learn with strands: Making failure acceptable and learning from it is easier said than done; it is a cultural issue. Curiosity is essential to remove the blinders. Knowledge management, document repositories, and collaboration tools to capture project artifacts are a foundational aspect, but not enough. You need feedback loops, feed-forward, retrospectives, pre-mortem, storytelling, and the learning question. All of this is only possible if employees feel they are part of a meaningful community. The PMO can be the curator to identify, organize, and share lessons, ideas, best practices, tools, and apps. There is a tendency to overestimate the role of planning beforehand, and underestimate the role of correction, after kick-off. In a constantly changing and disruptive world, continuous improvement is like running better and faster, just to stay in the same place, whereas continuous innovation is a double loop, where you learn and evolve to create something new and better.

Simplicity: Simplicity is difficult to practice. Start by understanding and applying the following principles of simplicity: from whose perspective, minimalism – less is more, scalable, self-eliminating, desire lines and simple rules (10 laws of simplicity: Reduce, Organise, Time, Learn, Differences, Context, Emotion, Trust, Failure and The one). Build a Department of Simplicity and develop simplify intelligence.

Conclusion: A book that helps to shape your mind and provides direction when looking at the fact that more and more organizations put agility as one of their themes to survive and you want to know what this means for your PMO if you want to continue to add value by your next generation PMO to your customer and thus your organization. Every DNA element is explained by using leading questions, decomposed into strands, accommodated by many examples, techniques, a checklist and key takeaways. There are not that many books on PMO’s so this one is a must read if you are a PMO manager. In the appendix you can find an overview of PMO functions and activities organized by DNA elements and strands.

To order: The DNA of strategy execution – Next generation project management and PMO

Review: Leading Teams – Setting the stage for great performances

leadingIf I see how agile teams perform you can ask yourself why is this the case, what is needed that these teams become much more effective? J. Richard Hackman wrote in 2002 the book Leading Teams – Setting the stage for great performances and this book still gives a lot of answers and directions how to look at those less effective agile teams.

The book is divided in three parts. In part I we get two examples of how senior leaders at two different airlines structured and supported teams of flight attendants. One airline achieved a great deal of control over flight attendant behavior, but at a considerable cost in motivation and creativity. The other airline achieved nearly the opposite outcomes. Throughout the book we will get a lot of references to these two teams and other examples too.

Part II is the core of the book and focusses on the conditions that foster team effectiveness reflected in products, services or decisions that are acceptable to the clients. That the team becomes more capable as a performing unit over time and that the individual members learn. The following five conditions must be put in place and stay there:

  • Having a real team
  • A compelling direction
  • An enabling team structure
  • A supportive organizational context
  • Expert team coaching

Part III Opportunities, discusses imperatives for leaders (and their execution skills) and how to think differently about teams within an operating environment (who decides? authority structure, who is responsible? work structure, who gains? reward structure, who learns? opportunity structure).

QRC (Leading teams, 180611) v1.0To download: QRC (Leading teams, 180611) v1.0

The five conditions:

A real team is the prerequisite for the other conditions. The task actually is appropriate for teamwork and it requires members to work together independently. It means establishing clear but moderately permeable membership boundaries. It means providing the team with substantial but clearly delimited authority for managing its work. And finally it means ensuring that the team will be reasonably stable over time as members carry out that work.

Providing a compelling direction that energizes, orients and engages teams is an important ingredient in setting the stage for great performances.

An enabling team structure is based on the design of the work that the team performs, the core norms of conduct that guide and constrain team behavior, and the composition of the team. Autonomy gives teams room to excel … but autonomous teams gone bad and can do real damage. Also virtual teams become more popular but it is much harder to create the previously mentioned conditions in virtual teams.

An unsupportive organizational context limit the performance of even a well-designed work team. The following three systems have particularly high leverage in supporting teamwork: the reward system (to provide recognition and reinforcement contingent on excellent team performance), the information system (to provide teams, at their own initiative whenever possible, the data and projections that members need to competently plan and execute their work) and the educational system (to make training and technical assistance available to work teams for any aspects of the work in which members are not already sufficiently knowledgeable or skilled).

The last condition, expert coaching, can significantly enhance team performance processes as managing member effort, selecting and implementing its task performance strategies and in utilizing members’ talents. What can coaches do and when can they do it to help a work team manage the three key performance processes efficiently and well.

Conclusion: A must read for (tribe) leaders, sponsors, (project and programme) managers and agile coaches. To be honest it’s not an easy read. There is a lot of text in the chapters and you get sometimes lost (maybe some white between paragraphs and the use of numbered sections would have helped).

To order: Leading Teams – Setting the stage for great performances

Review: The Agile Enterprise

9781484223901-480x600Mario E. Moreira wrote the book The Agile Enterprise – Building and Running Agile Organizations. A book that can help you to understand what is needed to achieve the full benefits of mature agile. Individuals at all levels in the organization must be committed to the agile mindset and focusing on delivering value to the customer. On top of this all employees must be empowered to take ownership.

The author uses a metaphor of the Agile galaxy: a landscape for your agile culture to view where agile is being applied in your organization and a customer value driven engine.

The book contains 22 chapters, where the first four chapters (I would say the first five) explains the conceptual groundwork for an effective customer-value-driven enterprise and all other chapters provides in-depth knowledge of concepts, mindsets, practices, and techniques to build this customer-value-driven enterprise.

Several chapters ends with references with more material and on many places you get an ‘Agile Pit Stop’ to illuminate ideas or highlight important points.

The landscape of the agile galaxy has three axes. The horizontal view, the delivery axis, following the recording of an idea towards the release of that idea. A vertical view, the hierarchical axis, from top (exec level) to bottom (team level). And the third dimension is the culture: from a negative agile, or more traditional hierarchical and command and control, culture towards a positive agile culture, aligned with engaging customers and employees and aligned with agile values and principles.

Dia1To download: The Agile Enterprise (Agile Galaxy QRC, 180507) v1.0

To highlight the different chapters I will follow the author’s clustering of several themes and summarize some key points.

Agile as it relates to the customer:

The key is narrowing the gap between employees and customers (two-degrees-of separation rule). Customer input and feedback are the two primary guides towards customer value. And understand that often customers don’t know what they want until they see it. To understand customer ideas the author describes how you can record them by using a lean or customer-value canvas and customer personas.

Agile as it relates to the employee:

If you believe employees matter, you must embrace the COMETS values (Collaboration, Ownership, Motivation, Empowerment, Enthusiasm, Trust and Safety). If your organization is following the agile transformation journey and your role has not adapted you may not be part of the transformation. Topics like bounded authority and holocracy are discussed and what is needed to build a learning enterprise. Focus early on the readying the mind for agile with agile mindset education and not with education on an agile process or agile role (the mechanics). A culture with a discovery mindset, infused with incremental thinking, experimental thinking, divergent and convergent thinking, feedback thinking and design thinking is key. HR can play an important role to promote education and agile and hiring agile-minded employees.

Agile culture and mindset:

In the previous clusters already several topics were highlighted, e.g. embracing customers and employees, building a learning enterprise, applying a discovery mindset as well as the role of HR. To understand your own culture an Agile cultural assessment survey based on desired agile behaviors is included in the book.

Running an agile enterprise:

The delivery axis in the agile galaxy can be seen as the enterprise idea pipeline or portfolio backlog or enterprise Kanban board. The 5R model is explained as a path to deliver customer value (Record, Reveal, Refine, Realize and Release and the 6R model added the Reflect step at the end) and how this pipeline can be connected to the backlogs. Prioritization techniques like the Cost of Delay (CoD or CoD3) are explained and what it means if you move away from traditional budgeting towards agile budgeting and make use of lightning-bolt-shaped teams (with primary and at least two additional skills to be able to handle a broader range of work). Agile success measures are discussed and it ends with an explanation of an incremental approach toward an agile adoption (learn, grow, accelerate, transform and sustain).

Establishing your requirements relationships and decomposing requirements from idea to task:

To show the relative hierarchy among various requirements the author uses the requirements tree (corporate strategy, division strategy, ideas, idea increment, epic, user story, and task) and story mapping points you at options that help validate customer value including collaboration on user stories.

Conclusion. A good book when you are at the beginning or in the middle of an agile transformation. I like the idea of the agile galaxy with the three axes. The author gives a lot of in-depth information, mindsets, principles, tools and practices to increase the chance of success of your journey. To read the book from front to back is not easy. I miss a sort of red thread throughout the book, I sometimes had the idea that some chapters could be combined, e.g. 16 and 18 or could be moved to the first part of the book.

To order: The Agile Enterprise

Review Half double – Projects in half the time with double the impact

IMG_2994A few weeks ago I visited Copenhagen to give a guest lecture at the Technical University of Denmark. Afterwards I was interviewed by by Michael Fleron (DTU) and John Ryding Olsson for a new book on strategy and leadership. John gave me one of the first just printed copies of the book Half double – Projects in half the time with double the impact he wrote together with Michael Ehlers, Karoline Thorp Adland and Niels Ahrengot. In the book, John wrote “I hope the book will give you some inspiration” and it definitely did!

The book was co-created through a series of events, attended by more than 2000 participants, in close collaboration with project practitioners. As soon as a chapter was written, it became available for feedback.

There are eight chapters in the book. In the introduction chapter the authors look back and explain why the old way of working will not work in the more and more uncertain and rapidly changing future. In the five following chapters we get an overview of the new methodology, its philosophy and principles, and in-depth chapters about the four building blocks (core element) of the methodology to achieve double the impact in half the time: impact, flow, leadership and local translation. Every building block is explained, including three execution methods and corresponding tools, templates and processes as well as detailed case studies. The last chapter is dedicated to portfolio management taking the same building blocks into account.

Impact: It’s all about stakeholder satisfaction. This is the ultimate success criterion. The following three methods and tools to create impact are explained:

  • Build the impact case to drive behavioral change and business impact by using the impact case tool (case GN Audio)
  • Design your project to deliver impact as soon as possible by using the impact solution design tool (case GN Audio)
  • Be in touch with the pulse of your key stakeholders by using the pulse check tool (case: Velux).

Flow: High intensity and frequent interaction in project work, learning and impact. The following three methods and tools are explained to create flow:

  • Allocate core team members for minimum of 50% of their time and ensure co-location by using the co-location tool (case: Siemens Wind Power)
  • Increase insight and commitment using visual tools and plans by using the rhythm in key events tool (case: GN Audio)
  • Set a fixed project heartbeat to progress the project in sprints by using the visual planning tool (case: Danfoss).

Leadership: As a leader you must embrace uncertainty and make the project happen. The following three methods and nine behaviors to create leadership in your project are explained:

  • Be an active, committed and engaged project owner by using active ownership behaviors: own the impact (pave the way for impact and remove unnecessary bureaucracy), ensure resource commitment including 50% allocation of high caliber people and show up (engage with the project, at least two hours a week) (case: Novozymes)
  • Be a collaborative leader with a people first attitude by using collaborative leadership behaviors: lead the impact (being hard on the impact and flexible on the deliverables), facilitate and energize interactions and put people first by creating purpose, autonomy and mastery (case: Velux)
  • Apply a reflective and adaptive mindset by using a reflective and adaptive mindset: listen intensely, frame the issue and help to move the team forward (case: Lantmännen).

Local translation: Successful translation of the half double methodology requires commitment to three methods and tools:

  • Build a half double mindset to initiate the half double approach using the half double mindset tool (case: SAS Scandinavian Airlines)
  • Customize governance to ensure flow by using the governance customization tool (case: GN Audio)
  • Anchor the half double practice to pave the way for new results by using the reflective map tool (case: Velux).

The last chapter focusses on half double portfolio leadership using again three methods:

  • Make strategy and portfolio fit to create strategic impact
  • Short and fat portfolio with frequent strategic adjustment (this is key. Courageous prioritization is the means!)
  • Portfolio leadership team and ownership.

Conclusion. An easy to read, great colorful layout, energizing and inspirational book. The theory and hand-on principles and tools are explained and the real life examples make this book a must read for those who are directing or running projects in this more and more rapidly changing world and for those who would like to move away from some outdated ways of thinking and running projects.

IMG_3006

More information can be found on:www.projecthalfdouble.dk

Review: The age of agile

9780814439098-200x300Stephen Denning wrote a very interesting and inspiring book The age of agile – How smart companies are transforming the way work gets Done. Not about agile frameworks but what it really means to reach more agility.

The book is divided in two parts. The first part focusses on agile management, laws, a case study to implement agile at scale (Microsoft), and moving towards strategic agility and changing the organizational culture. The second part puts several management traps in the spotlights. E.g. shareholder value, share buybacks, cost-oriented economics and backward-looking strategy.

Organizations that have embraced agile have three core characteristics:

  • The law of the small team. “It’s presumption that in a VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) world, big and difficult problems should – to the extent possible – be disaggregated into small batches and performed by small cross-functional autonomous teams working iteratively in short cycles in a state of flow, with fast feedback from customers and end-users.
  • The law of the customer. “Requires that the firm’s culture and internal systems, processes, and values themselves be continuously subordinated to, and driven by, delivering value to the customer: if there is a conflict, it is the customer’s needs that need to be given priority.
  • The law of the network. “An organizational network is a set of teams that interact with and collaborate with other teams with the same connectivity, interaction, and passion as they do within their own small team. Each team needs to look beyond its own goals and concerns and see its work as part of the larger mission of the collectivity.

Dia1Common practices of agile small teams:

  • Work in small batches
  • Small cross-functional teams
  • Limited work in process
  • Autonomous teams
  • Getting to “done”
  • Work without interruption
  • Daily stand-ups
  • Radical transparency
  • Customer feedback each cycle
  • Retrospective reviews

Dia2Practices of the law of the customer:

  • Target
  • Constantly experiment
  • Partner with start-ups
  • Increase product malleability (turn a physical product into a digital product)
  • Focus
  • Innovate in short stages
  • Evaluate
  • Be willing to disappoint
  • Deliver value faster
  • Customize

Dia3Some hypotheses as to what it takes to make networks work:

  • The network has a compelling goal
  • The network comprises small groups
  • The groups have an action orientation
  • The network is the sum of the small groups
  • The network’s legal framework stays in the background

The Microsoft case study implementing agile at scale gives helpful keys that are needed to make agile at scale:

  • Get the right balance of alignment and autonomy (too much control, nothing gets done – too little control, it’s chaos)
  • Master the role of the agile manager
  • Handle dependencies at the team level
  • Ensure continuous integration
  • Keep on top of technical debt
  • Embrace Devops and continuous Delivery
  • Continuously monitor progress
  • Listen to the customer wants, but meet their needs
  • Deal with directions from above
  • Use self-forming teams to encourage team ownership
  • Recognize the team is the product
  • Build quality from the beginning
  • Use coaching carefully
  • Ensure top-level support.

The last two chapters of the first part explores what it means to move from operational to strategic agility. Generating innovations that create entirely new markets by turning non-customers into customers. Strategic agility is the next frontier of agile management. Start with market-creating value propositions based on four fundamental components: Need, Approach, Benefits per costs, and Competition (NABC).

In the second part we are looking at organizations who are mainly focussed on defending the status quo and protecting their existing business. They are not moving towards operational and strategic agility. They are blocked by traps of short-term shareholder value, share buybacks, cost-oriented economics and backward-looking strategies.

  • The trap of shareholder value. Maximizing shareholder value means top-down command-and-control management and as a result dispirited employees, less engagement, less innovation, …
  • The trap of share buybacks. Making profits (“corporate cocaine”) even as it systematically destroys its own earning capacity by handing over resources to shareholders and as a result there are insufficient resources to support investment and innovation
  • The cost-oriented economics trap. Cutting costs could lead to a permanent loss of expertise. Adding customer value at lower cost is much more important
  • The trap of backward-looking strategy. These strategies are 100 percent accurate in hindsight, but in foresight, they miss the unexpected and the unforeseen.

The book ends with the epilogue where nuclear winters and golden ages starting in 1790 with the canals and ending in the era of computers and communications are discussed. We get an overview of different roles (from CEO’s to thought leaders and the media and many more) and what they need to do to run organizations in a better way.

Conclusion: Great case studies to understand why we need the three laws of the customer, the small team and the network. A must read for those who want to make a shift to business agility.

In line with the agile manifesto and summarizing the second part of the book I would say:

  • Customer value over shareholder value
  • Customer value over organization’s efficiency
  • Value driven perspective over cost orientation

To order: The age of agile