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Pat Reed on the Need for Business Agility and Value Innovation

| Podcast with Pat Reed Follow 0 Followers by Shane Hastie Follow 27 Followers on Feb 06, 2017 |

This is the Engineering Culture Podcast, from the people behind InfoQ.com and the QCon conferences.

In this podcast Shane Hastie, InfoQ Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke to Pat Reed of iHoriz about value innovation, adaptive leadership and what’s needed to create real business agility. 

Key Takeaways

  • Business agility is about adapting and thriving in extreme uncertainty
  • Make value visible – really understand who your customer is and how value is derived in your organisation, then focus on only doing things that truly add value
  • The management practice of “doing more with less” is both delusional and counter-productive
  • We know about the need for WIP limits and the impact of context switching on productivity, yet somehow some managers believe their organisations are immune from these realities
  • Value must be measured in terms of making an impactful difference to a customer or to the business
  • Fast failure and learning are critical to innovation and sustainable organisation success
  • Being able to adapt quicker than the competition, quicker than the customer’s changing needs is imperative for business success today 

0m:25s Introductions

0m:50s Business agility is about adapting and thriving in extreme uncertainty

1m:08s Most organisations are stuck using management practices which are over 100 years old

1m:45s Process is only an enabler when it is minimal

2m:20s The vast amounts of wasted time in most organisations on non-value adding activities

2m:55s Why it matters for technical leaders

3m:10s The importance of deepening awareness about how value is actually created vs being busy

3m:35s Ask yourself what proportion of your time can you map back to true value delivery and/or innovation.  Most leaders spend 20% of their time at best on real value generation, this is not enough

4m:28s It’s easy to fall into a rut where most time in meetings is wasted and useless

5m:08s Become more self-aware and get comfortable with being uncomfortable in order to disrupt ourselves

5m:35s Make value visible – really understand who your customer is

13m:05s The litmus test – if you’re not creating value then you’re creating waste

6m:25s Your energy is priceless – give yourself a challenge to drop things from your To Do list that don’t generate value

6m:40s Create a “Won’t do” list to actively help focus on what’s the most valuable activities you should be doing

6m:50s Give your teams the opportunity to do less – invite them to take things off their To Do lists too

7m:40s It’s not about being busy and “getting stuff done”

7m:58s The management practice of “doing more with less” is both delusional and counter-productive

8m:10s We know about the need for WIP limits and the impact of context switching on productivity, yet somehow some managers believe their organisations are immune from these realities

8m:55s New era managers understand the importance of empowering teams to make good decisions and figure out the best ways of delivering value, eliminate waste and find time for innovation

9m:15s Change the way we think from “do more with less” to “do less” – only do what is valuable

9m:30s Change the metrics and reward systems to measure outcomes (value) not output (more stuff done)

9m:55s Value must be measured in terms of making an impactful difference to a customer or to the business with the fewest amount of output – more value at less cost

10m:50s Leaders need to articulate what success looks like in measurable terms with real clarity so the whole organisation can align on delivering value

11m:15s Build value models which give everyone in the organisation a clear line of sight between the work they are doing and the outcome which is desired

12m:05s Key metrics for organisations today should be cost of value and time to value.  Value in terms of customer value and organisational benefits

12m:25s Build in rich feedback loops and ensure you learn from the feedback and use it to change direction because customer needs are constantly changing.

12m:55s Three feedback loops to put into place:

  • How are we doing based on our commitments?
  • How quickly are we learning and responding to customer feedback?
  • Are we still doing the right thing, do we need to change our goals based on shifting circumstances and priorities? 

14m:25s Recognise that everything is an experiment, accept that there are many unknown unknowns which require an experimentation approach to discover where value actually lies

14m:45s Define tests as part of the experiment – when defining a piece of work, a feature in a product or a change to a process identify the aspect of value which should be improved by the work and then measure if it has been achieved    

15m:05s Business value and customer value need to be balanced, we need both to be successful.  Biasing to far towards either will result in either dissatisfied customers who will go elsewhere or an unsustainable organisation.  Both are bad

15m:35s Paying down technical debt in a product is an example of investing in sustainable business value

16m:35s Achieving this mindset is big change for organisations and not easy to achieve, however it is crucial for survival and success in the 21st century marketplace

17m:10s True business agility is learning how to thrive in extreme change

17m:50s The culture of the organisation will influence how rapidly they are able to adapt to new ways of working

18m:15s Approach the change as a lean initiative – use small steps, experiments, feedback, learning and adapting 

18m:40s At the team level lead with an adaptive mindset and nurture a collaborative culture

18m:50s The importance of creating a safe environment where the team can thrive on experimenting and learning 

19m:05s Have a high tolerance for failure; test first with a hypothesis and be open to learning when the hypothesis proves not to be true

19m:35s Take a Lean Startup approach: define the test, run the experiment, get feedback and adapt quickly, celebrate learning

13m:05s This approach is energising for the teams and delivers better outcomes for the organisation

21m:15s Generate knowledge across the organisation by sharing the results of experiments, especially the failures

21m:25s Safety is a key, make it OK to fail. 

21m:40s Adults learn more when a hypothesis fails than when it succeeds.  If it succeeds then no learning takes place. Failure creates new knowledge

22m:30s If we don’t fail we’re probably not trying hard enough or being innovative enough

23m:15s Dealing with “this is too important to fail” – break “this” down into thin slice experiments which can allow us to test the hypothesis, get feedback, learn and adapt

23m:50s23:50 Avoid big failures by breaking big challenges into thin slice experiments

24m:10s Accelerate feedback loops by shrinking the learning cycle to days or weeks and iterate

24m:55s Being able to adapt quicker than the competition, quicker than the customer’s changing needs is imperative for business success today  

25m:50s The next few years are going to see environments which are exponentially more uncertain than today, so this approach becomes key to survival

26m:20s Organisations that don’t adopt this approach will fail; adopting new processes without adopting a new mindset will just result in organisations getting stuck in a different rut

27m:00s The key is adapting continuously, shedding practices that don’t serve you and embracing the uncertainty of learning continuously

27m:35s This capacity includes sense-making, the ability to identify and take advantage of future trends as they emerge

28m:40s The upcoming Business Agility conference in New York

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