Tag Archives: agility

Are we embracing Complexity and Agility too late? #orgdna #globalchat SAT 8.25.18 1-3pGMT

The 21st century has a breakneck feel, and it’s difficult for organizations to keep up. We try to focus on the work in front of us, but our attention is continually flooded with changing priorities, better options and new ideas. The sum total of our collective global knowledge base taunts us, always just a few clicks away.

How can individuals and teams be expected to function? How can organizations thrive?

Amid this torrent, notions of complexity and  agility are intriguing. Could they represent better ways to navigate the flood of ideas? Most experts and academics say ‘yes’.  Unfortunately, the words get dropped into meetings and board rooms like all the latest buzz words. Yet both concepts hint at important, underlying themes:

  • Complexity is a paradigm shift in how we see the world, less focused on empirical cause and effect, more on networks of interdependent actors that can learn and co-create organically; it’s where the whole can’t be predicted by the sum of the parts; where initial conditions and critical mass play key roles; where new thinking, under the umbrella of emergence, marks new pathways for adaptation, aka continuous improvement
  • Agility is a paradigm shift of it’s own, whereby organizations become more nimble in response to change; trust regains center stage; adaptation becomes a critical skill; incremental approaches open new ways to solve problems

Changes like these are at once exciting, and daunting. Our ability to work together and learn together is at the core in our #futureofwork. To me, complexity and agility are integral aspects of how work needs to get done in a highly interdependent world. So I think it’s critical that we understand these concepts, embrace them, and put them to work.

I just hope we’re not taking on these challenges too late. Let’s discuss.

In our 8/25/18 #orgdna #globalchat, we’ll examine agility as an outcome, through a complexity lens.  To lay a foundation, we’ll focus first on key initial conditions:

  • Q1. Trust Networks. Why is trust needed for collaborative dialog to emerge? To enable agility?
  • Q2. Agile and the Price of Speed. Can a simple methodology help organizations move faster? Within what constraints?
  • Q3. Small Wins. What makes notions like “minimum viable product” so essential?
  • Q4. Adaptive Governance. Can there be oversight without bureaucratic grid lock? What is the new role of leaders? Do we still need Kotter-style coalitions?
  • Q5. Making Sense of Complexity. Why is this a critical 21st century skill? Why are we so late to embrace it?
  • Q6. A Collaborative Culture. Why is an organization’s collective mindset an important initial condition? Is this happening too slowly to allow the emergence of organizational agility?

Lots to talk about. And because it will take time to unfold, it’s going to be a journey.

This outline will inform our follow-on conversations.  We’ll continue to unpack the #futureofwork through the lens of social complexity each month, now on 3rd or 4th Saturdays, from 1-3pm GMT, i.e., 9-11am EDT. Stop in at any point during the 2-hour conversation. Can’t make that time? Feel free to tweet thoughts/inputs/comments using hashtags #orgdna #globalchat, or post comments to this blog.

It’s been a great exchange so far. We’re 6-years in, and gaining momentum. Transcripts of our conversations abound.

We hope you’ll join us for the next one. See you online!

— Chris Jones – @sourcepov –  Charlotte NC

How does a Twitter Chat work?  We recommend a streaming app like TweetDeck. Just append #orgdna to your tweets adding #orgdev #agile #agility #complexity and/or #futureofwork to specific tweets, as relevant, to expand the thread. Sometimes we’ll chat in the #orgdna stream in real-time, like a flash mob, with insights just popping up.  But for the in-depth discussion, join us at the appointed hour on Twitter.

What is #orgdna?  It’s a self-selecting community of #orgdev thinkers, discussing collaborative aspects of the organization since 2012. 

What is a Global Chat?  This may be the first one.  Many challenges facing the modern organization are global in nature, or in impact. I’m hoping #orgdna can make #globalchat a more frequent and welcome exchange, with increasing scope of participation and value.

Do we have a Master Agenda?  Yes, but it’s evolving, as we learn more. We’ve captured many of our ideas and themes to date using Coggle. Our roadmap is posted on this site (CC4-BY-SA). Have a look, and share your thoughts.


Being Agile: On the Path to Organizational Agility | #orgdna on the #futureofwork (discussed 6/11/18)

Like so many buzz words in the corporate lexicon, notions of agility get dropped often in work settings. Who doesn’t want to get the important things done faster? Even moreso, the Agile methodology, born and bred in the world of software development, introduces a welcome path to help get there.

Easy enough?

Well, no. Actually, it’s as difficult as can be. Because changing how we think, how we work together, and how we attack problems is painful, and sometimes slow. Agile champions and enthusiasts may beat the drum of change, but their energy doesn’t always sink in, or sustain.

If Agile is a path to organizational and corporate agility, it’s going to be more of a journey.

Agile is as much a mindset as a methodology. It’s not just the steps and the formats. It’s a social paradigm shift. Consider.  How and when should we engage others? How do we get comfortable with ceding control? Are we able to develop a bias for trust?

No small challenge, agility, but I think it’s the essential path. The 21st century marketplace demands a quickened pace. The nimble will survive.

So let’s get to it.

In our 6/11/18 #orgdna chat, let’s discuss a few of the critical elements that are key initial conditions on the path to agility:

  • Q1. Quickened Pace. Can you and your team(s) pick up the pace of decision-making, even to the extent of a sprint?
  • Q2. Flexibility. Will your and your team(s) be willing to shift direction midstream?
  • Q3. Cross-Functional Engagement. What level of cooperation can you achieve?
  • Q4. Commitment. Are stakeholders truly empowered to own solutions and take risks (vs. lip service)?
  • Q5. Permission for Transparency. Is everyone (including/especially those “up the chain”) ready for honest appraisals of gaps?
  • Q6. Flow of Work. Agility is fueled by an organic, opportunistic flow of work, not what we are used to: structure and control. Are you and your team(s) ready?

Lots to talk about, all of it foundational to becoming agile.  Let’s discuss, and put some stakes in the ground.

The mission? We’re continuing to unpack the #futureofwork through the lens of social complexity, and I hope you’ll join us.  We meet monthy, mostly on 3rd or 4th Mondays, from 9-11pm. For June, we’re holiday hopping, and it’s a 2nd Monday.

See? We’re being agile already. Hold on for the ride.

Chris Jones, aka @sourcepov, Charlotte NC

 

How does a Twitter Chat work? We recommend a streaming app like TweetDeck. Just append #orgdna to your tweets adding #orgdev #agile #agility and/or #futureofwork to specific tweets, as relevant, to expand the thread. Sometimes we’ll chat in the #orgdna stream in real-time, like a flash mob, with insights just popping up.  But for the in-depth discussion, join us at the appointed hour on Twitter. It’s always lively, and we hope you’ll join us! 

 


Agile Personas: A Step Toward More Dynamic Teams? | #orgdna on the #futureofwork (discussed 4/23/18)

In our 2018 #orgdna conversations to date, we’ve been discussing the specific roles in organizations that are essential for new thinking. On the short list from our latest transcript, consider the value of team members like these:

  • Connector – linking concepts across domains, silos, or functions
  • Catalyst – sparking or challenging new thinking, helping others break from norms
  • Designer – envisioning alternate end states (what is possible?)
  • Aggregator – focused on semantics, solution elements and actionable takeaways
  • Practitioner/SME – subject matter expert on problems at hand

These roles are laser-focused on problem-solving skills. They may be less common on traditional org charts, but they are essential to high-functioning teams.

You’ll note classic titles like “VP” and “Director” are missing from the list. Titles assigned by H/R are important, but so often hardwire us to limited task assignments and accountabilities. They don’t speak to thinking skills or problem-solving skills – key qualifications for fluid organizations who need to change how they operate.

Perhaps we need something in the middle?

Enter Agile, a methodology for solution design that aligns well with the more dynamic models we’ve been discussing. It emerged from IT, but brings with it flexible charters, movable scope boundaries, and fluid participation. That sounds a lot like the future of work we’ve imagined. And Agile offers faster results than traditional “waterfall” models, dated approaches that deliver answers in annual increments, often after requirements have changed.

Who doesn’t need to move faster in today’s demanding business environements?

Agile uses the notion of Personas, generalized actors in an organization, to define problem/solution stakeholders. Personas are really archetypes, representative roles that help design teams explain how things need to work. Some examples:

  • Leader/Executive – ultimate owner/customer
  • Planner – surveying options, constraints, barriers, and optimal scenarios
  • Line Manager – ensuring resources and productivity, while removing barriers
  • Analyst/SME – subject matter experts, working out specifics

While personas like these seem more familiar than our skill-specific, hypothetical #orgdna roles, they are still generalized. This feels like a step in the right direction. And there are definitely overlaps.

I’ve updated the #orgdna #futureofwork Coggle to show this.

In our Monday 4/23 #orgdna chat, from 9-11pm ET, we’ll unpack how roles become personas in the Agile context, and how this opens up new thinking. Here are a few specific framing Q’s:

  • Q1. On Agile Personas. How might generalizing roles into Agile Personas make team and/or process design more fluid?
  • Q2. Focus on OD Mindset. For team builders, do Personas offer a useful conceptual middle ground between current state hierarchy/specialists and skill-based Roles we’ve been discussing?
  • Q3. Changing OD Mindsets on Key Roles. In practice, how might team builders leverage the power of conceptual Agile Personas and/or our skill-based Roles?
  • Q4. Titles. Are they still important?
  • Q5. Can Generalists take Action? Or do team members without task-specific accountabilities or authority face challenges?

Much to discuss here, as unpack our conception of roles in the organization, with a social complexity overlay. I hope you’ll join us.

Chris Jones aka @sourcepov | Charlotte NC US


ABOUT #ORGDNA.  If you’ve been following along, you’ll know our #orgdna conversation on Twitter is gaining momentum. What will the future of work look like? How can we get there?  See our new #orgdna META page for a little more background on our approach and objectives.  And, as always, we’ll see you online.