1) Start with first value streams and enterprise portfolio
2) Evaluate, improve and spread awareness
3) Existing structures, processes and culture become inhibitors to further change
So far, the organization has continued to manage projects and priorities at the department or silo level only. People in ‘Marketing’ haven’t really felt they needed to take into account what’s coming up for ‘Operations’, or what’s happening in ‘Finance’. Yet a first step to breaking up the silos and creating an interconnected, Agile organizational entity is to put together an organization-wide project portfolio, prioritized along customercentered ‘value streams’.
WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO CONSIDER VALUE STREAMS OVER DEPARTMENTS?
Because customers don’t care about your
departments. Because the customer, your
prime source of revenue, doesn’t experience
the organization or the brand at the
department level. They experience a result
(a product, a service) that they’re either
willing to pay for, or not. These results are
the output of ‘value streams’ comprising
steps that each add significant value.
Value streams run along organic lines:
from ‘having an idea’, for example, to
‘turning the idea into a product’ to ‘marketing
it’, ‘selling it’, ‘harvesting feedback’ and ‘supporting customers’. These organic value adding streams or chains have little respect for the functional silos that we’ve spent decades working in and recruiting for.
SOURCE OF FRICTION?
A source of friction may arise because
those whose work has not yet been impacted
by the transformation (supporting
functions) start to regard their work with
Moreover, the autonomy and short-cyclical
freedom enjoyed by those already
working Agile may appears more rewarding
and even ‘cooler’ than their own
conventional daily routine. Rest assured:
their turn arrives with the final phase.
‘GO AGILE’ DECISION
Jump the chasm: Fully organize around
value streams, leaving conventional
WHAT’S IN THIS PHASE FOR YOU?
: The benefits of setting up and
living by end-to-end value streams are
hard to overstate. A clear focus on total
added value, a significantly shorter
time-to-market, a firmer grasp on quality
control. More employee engagement is
also widely felt: rather than just working
at the IT department there is now a true
awareness of contribution to the wider
To answer the many questions that
have an easy answer, and to coordinate
research into questions that don’t, your
organization may want to set up some
sort of an Agile Center of Expertise at
this point. Called a Chapter, a working
group or something similar, this entity serves as a knowledge base, a platform and a laboratory for all things regarding the transformation.
Up to now, the journey has evolved largely in a bottom-up fashion, though (hopefully) cheered on by management. Here though, management can no longer watch from a distance. To fully organize work along value streams ultimately impacts fundamental areas. All supporting functions, for example - HR, Finance, PM/PO, et cetera - ar e involved, and each should adapt. For Finance, the
rigid per annum approach to budgeting
must give way to something more
flexible; For HR, the myriad job profiles
and performance reviews have to go. So,
the labour council will want its say and shareholders may, too. In short, the bottom-
up momentum no longer suffices. Top management too, must learn to view
performance through an Agile lens. That
is the chasm to jump. Making the jump won’t calm the waters yet though: the redesign that follows may well invite resistance from all layers of the organization: where those in the
value stream soon see the benefits, people
in supportive positions (supporting functions such as HR, Finance, Control, et cetera) especially may feel uncertain and without direction.