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CA Agile Leaders on the Using Data and Creating a Safe Environment to Drive Strategy

| Podcast with Shannon Mason Follow 0 Followers , Laureen Knudsen Follow 0 Followers , Steve Wolfe Follow 1 Followers by Shane Hastie Follow 25 Followers on May 08, 2018 |

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

In this podcast Shane Hastie, Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke to Shannon Mason, Laureen Knudsen and Steve Wolfe about a wide range of topics from agile marketing to using data effectively to drive strategy, to organisation incentives and neuroscience.  

Key Takeaways

  • While there are differences in the application of agile ideas in different domains, the principles apply across the board
  • An effective agile environment produces good data for executive decision making
  • To be able to use the data effectively the culture needs to support psychological safety
  • Agile adoption forces organisations to confront dysfunctional practices
  • The shift from seeing oneself as the individual contributor to part of a collective group who achieve success together is very hard
  • Define your ways of working so they work with how people’s brains work, and there is no single process which works for everyone or every area of the organisation
  • 0:20 Shannon’s Introduction
  • 0:50 Laureen’s introduction
  • 1:33 Steve’s introduction
  • 2:20 What is Agile Marketing?
  • 2:34 While there are differences in the application of agile ideas in different domains, the principles apply across the board
  • 2:45 Empower people to be great
  • 3:32 The impact of successful agile software adoption on other parts of the business
  • 4:03 What’s needed to change the approach for groups like marketing and sales
  • 4:38 Examples of how marketing is changing
  • 4:55 The lost opportunity of data
  • 5:22 The conversation at the executive level
  • 5:35 Describing how an effective agile environment produces good data for management decision making
  • 5:48 The value of true data vs meaningless status reports
  • 6:24 The value of the rapid feedback and the transparent way of working for making good decisions
  • 6:52 If you don’t have the data and your competition does then you are really losing out in the marketplace
  • 7:25 It takes an adjustment in thinking to be able to leverage the data and make strategic decisions
  • 8:35 The need to teach executives and managers how to understand and interpret the data that comes out of agile delivery
  • 9:09 In order to be able to use the data and take advantage of the transparency the culture needs to support psychological safety
  • 10:05 The natural human reaction to try and do more when we have a history of not delivering, thus overloading the system even further
  • 10:28 This is a result of a lack or prioritization
  • 10:40 Safety is important in all areas of the organisation
  • 11:25 Getting senior leadership to agree not to use data punitively, rather use it to guide coaching and learning
  • 12:35 Leaders must embody the safety culture
  • 13:03 Asking the entire organisation to plan for less because the data exposed too much work in progress
  • 13:25 Organizational temporal myopia – we suffer from the inability to see the impact of our decisions on the future
  • 14:19 How this played out in a real situation for CA
  • 14:25 No-one ever gets mad if you pull more work in, even if it is obvious that work won’t get done
  • 14:50 In an unhealthy organisation people fear saying no, so they take on more and more work
  • 15:15 An example of what happens when the culture is unsafe – 67 projects started with the expectation that none will get finished in the current year
  • 15:56 When you start showing the flaws in the current system it becomes very uncomfortable, irrespective of the level in the organisation
  • 16:46 The shift from seeing oneself as the individual contributor to part of a collective group who achieve success together is very hard
  • 17:02 No one single person has the capacity to save the whole organisation
  • 18:00 The unhealthy situation where leaders are incentivised to work against each other
  • 18:44 Changing the incentive systems so people are encouraged to work together rather than focusing on local optimization at the expense of other areas
  • 19:17 An example of a policy which was designed to incentivise teams but was implemented to incentivise individuals instead
  • 19:57 Silo behaviours destroy collaboration
  • 20:18 Think about the behaviours you want to promote and then build processes and policies to support them
  • 21:20 The value of acting “as if” the collaborative policies are in place
  • 22:40 How neuroscience supports these ideas
  • 23:10 An example of how dysfunctional behaviour happens in an executive group and how social ostracization causes real pain
  • 25:32 The importance of looking for information that challenges our current way of thinking in order to help overcome confirmation bias
  • 26:03 There is a tipping point in any transformation where areas of the business outside of the delivery teams need to become part of the change, otherwise they become blockers
  • 27:30 How this plays out in areas like marketing and sales
  • 28:16 The way the HR processes need to adapt and how it impacts the whole of the organisation
  • 28:50 The way current incentives drive people to create opportunities to be seen as heroes and get the bonus
  • 29:18 The way incentives need to change and are changing
  • 29:58 One of the challenges is the way language is different in each area of the business, use the language which makes sense in the area you are working in
  • 30:37 Define your ways of working so they work with how people’s brains work, and there is no single process which works for everyone or every area of the organisation
  • 31:10 What’s happening with CA’s own agile transformation
  • 31:45 CA’s mainframe organisation have transitioned to using agile approaches and delivering product more continuously, as well as building products to allow other organisations to do the same
  • 33:20 The breadth of the CA toolset and the long history of the company
  • 36:50 Testing the products and approaches on themselves before putting them out to the marketplace
  • 38:26 Using lean startup and innovation labs internally to allow new ideas to be tested
  • 39:37 Make room for the innovators in your company to try out their ideas quickly and safely

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