Like in Agile Software Development
I provide an outside look in, from an agile or entrepreneur perspective. The basic pattern is to look for better ways ahead. Better ways and alternate ways, choose and try, again as needed. Inspect and adapt.
Some suggest agile helps with
“improving business value”, others “improving revenues”, and
others suggest “reducing costs.” I concur, and suggest thatiit's a blend or mix
that varies from “lean and mean” to sur/petition where the
business adopts features lifting it above normal competition.
There often is a big thinking-doing gap between software developers and business people. They speak differently, they may dress differently, their goals and their personal reward systems probably differ. The business people and the techies effectively work in different silos. If you scatter the techie software people around inside the business to change their awareness and bonding, you ruin their tech teamworking. You're much better off to do agile work in a common team room, where much of the knowledge is implicitly/tacitly passed around. Jumping to a similar model, Crew Resource Management, nobody scatters aircrew around inside aircraft, they all go in the cockpit. Together.
A good first step is training techies to talk business and to understand the business. We can directly do that, and I prefer to add an indirect approach. Have more business-aware techies teach techies and business people meet techies, in gatherings and in patrols, for two ways learning. We naturally patrol out to our boundaries, so encourage visitors to find a tad of time to cross silos and chat. Grow growing relationships. Wash through obstinacy and inertia and divergent thinking. Agile software development includes something called pair programming, so do some of that after-a-fashion at business desks while working on business. Peer to peer learning can be extremely effective and particularly in this case matches mentoring and the ancient process of learning a craft. I help you help that happen, in an agile way.
One of the normal goals, and outcomes, is a better business to development team relationship, more effective communications, and faster better software development. Some like better ROI. Again, I like sur/petition, rising above competition with an edge factor.
A.G.I.L.E. (A)daptive (G)oal driven (I)terative (L)ean (E)mergent
As we develop a richer perspective and better relationships, we can gain a better awareness of the overall business situation, and ways to improve the situation. Done well we may well grow the agile process outside the teamwork into some teams that network together. We use the agile – entrepreneur process as a discovery process and extend it in our patrols. It becomes a living learning network.
The outside look in often yields ways to improve flows, to adopt lean ways and improve the overall process. It's very common for silos to have differing goals and divergent interpretation of goals, and some of that can be mended.
Sometimes it's all reversed. In a startup or just developing a new product the business team is entrepreneurial/agile but the techies want Big Design Up Front. You might also mimic this with an expert who has his ways that dominate the developments instead of adapting to current reality. Some big Japanese companies only let the experts in after other people have massaged things into shape first.
Another aspect that I have done a lot is working with cross-cultural, cross-lingual learnings. You may have teams where the 'silo' is caused by other-country culture or language. That pattern is similar and the similar goal is effective communications, perfect needs to be well off in the background.
XP 'coaches' are often more akin to mentor-trainers, directly imparting knowledge, and they train in an agile fashion. Agile business coaches work more with a business angle and train in an agile fashion, more in the hard-to-handle soft area in between and less techy. Bridging.
I can't predict your XP-tech skills, and I prefer to have the software team hunt up XP type knowledge, from books and the web, then teach it to each other. With my help. They are smart so I can be quite dumb and it still works okay. When done well, I'm guiding them in developing speaking – presentation skills, and teamwork and meeting skills, under the XP learnings. They learn stuff techies like, by doing it. Given a choice I make parts of it like Toastmasters and suggest that people also do Toastmasters after work. Part of the pattern is to network learning, to minimise single source silo learning, and to grow ongoing self-reliant learning in the team. People in the business should be adopting a growing 'inspect and adapt' process. The equivalent medical doctor saying is "See one. Do one. Teach one." (bury two).
An underlying pattern for developing agile teams matches Joseph Campbell's “Hero's Journey” and or his “follow your bliss.” Learning and appreciating the Hero's path, and using some apt quotes, can make the journey a lot more like “follow your bliss” into success. Or you can just call it teambuilding. If so, please add the journey and the vision beyond a simple goal, add the tug. A fair number of people in various parts of your organization might feel that tug so it becomes a common theme, a thread in a web that pulls people together.
The tug blends 'the Formal and the
Informal' as expressed in the set below. Organically together. The
together result is an emotionally rich environment. Such relationship
based environments can do better, adapting to stresses and changes
like a tree grows in the wind. A living dynamic balance.
from “The Logic of the Formal; the Magic of the Informal” in “Leading Outside the Lines How to Mobilize the Informal Organization, Energize Your Team, and Get Better Results” by Katzenbach & Khan
People who feel the need for hierarchy, control, engineering and efficiency tend toward the Formal, they alter the yin yang balance towards their way.
Lean Toyota Production System (TPS) aka Thinking Production System (TPS)
MBA (old) MBA ( some, revised)
Engineering Art, Craft, Engineering
Project Management Project Management, with relationships
This back and forth jumping of viewpoints is an
ancient process. Read "Outlaws of the Marsh" for one view, and the Agile Manifesto for a
modern Western version. Shan Zhai is the modern Chinese name for a rough equivalent of the "Outlaws of the Marsh." The Shan Zhai pattern is (in)famous in Shenzhen, and the pattern lives well in Guangdong. Shan zhai translates as 'mountain fortress', beyond official rules - doing things that work instead of just following rules - adapting to reality and into growing success. Shan zhai cell phones copy brand name ones at a much lower cost, partially by avoiding IP and research costs, and successful shan zhai outfits enlarge their successes, just like weeds take over a garden.
You can visualize the shan zhai approach as having the map in mind allowing you to take an alternate road on your daily commute when the radio reports a traffic problem. Some easily switch routes, others don't. Some want rails, others want the flexibility of roads. Explorers go right off-road, into the weeds.
Roads tend to get built following successful explorers, maybe rails if there's lots of heavy freight, developing things in an ancient innovating to doing to perfecting pattern.If this is all too fuzzy, think of skunkworks, where they deliberately isolate new stuff from the interference of traditional factory-thinking ways.
Try 604-657-9595 or Vic@windwaterwine.com