Andy Cleff

Andy Cleff

Andy is an experienced and pragmatic agile practitioner that takes teams beyond getting agile to embracing agile. His superpowers include holding multiple perspectives, enabling step changes that bridge current and future states, allowing space for both order and chaos simultaneously, celebrating success, and foremost, putting the people at the top of the priority list.

His chief weapons are well-asked questions, insightful retrospectives, and an ability to withstand awkward silences. And if all else fails, beer.

By

Many organizations are stuck measuring and making decisions based on outputs – like velocity. In fact, team velocity is one of the most commonly used, abused, and misused metrics in Agile software development as well as during digital transformations. Teams, their managers, and even their stakeholders often focus on “improving velocity” without considering the entire value delivery system. Then they are shocked when they don’t get the business outcomes they really want, for example predictability or speed.

Business Outcome-Based Metrics: How to Effectively Measure Your Agile Transformation Journey

By Andy Cleff

Outputs or Outcomes?

Many organizations are stuck measuring and making decisions based on outputs – like velocity. In fact, team velocity is one of the most commonly used, abused, and misused metrics in Agile software development as well as during digital transformations. Teams, their managers, and even their stakeholders often focus on “improving velocity” without considering the entire value delivery system. Then they are shocked when they don’t get the business outcomes they really want, for example predictability or speed.

In this article, we explore healthy ways for your organization to use metrics to gain meaningful insights into the results of your experiments in the course of your Agile transformation.

Measure for a Purpose

As Simon Sinek famously says: “It all starts with why.” You need to understand what you think you are going to measure and why you want to measure it. When it comes to metrics in Agile, the data itself is not the goal — instead, it’s a means of tracking your journey, testing hypotheses, and providing feedback as you head towards your next goal.

That goal, the Big Why, should be focused on business outcomes, not outputs. Here are nine business outcomes (that come from Agile Velocity’s Path to Agility® framework) to think about:

  1. Employee Engagement: Employees are more satisfied in their work, willing to go the extra mile, passionate about the purpose of their jobs, and committed to the organization.
  2. Continuous Improvement: The ability of the organization to relentlessly pursue optimizations in all aspects of business functions.
  3. Innovation: New ideas, creative thoughts, or novel imaginations provide better solutions to meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or known market needs.
  4. Customer Satisfaction: Customers are satisfied with the experience, benefits, and outcomes when using your product or service.
  5. Market Responsiveness: The ability of the organization to pivot quickly to respond to ever-changing market demands.
  6. Productivity: Teams maintain a predictable cadence of delivery enabling the business to make informed business decisions.
  7. Speed: The time it takes to deliver an idea into the market.
  8. Quality: The product or service meets the expectations of the market for usability, reliability.
  9. Predictability: Increase the business value realized while maintaining or reducing costs.

We recommend that your organization pick one. Sorry, you can’t have them all at once! Limiting your organizational WIP (Work in Progress) helps create a clear sense of urgency.

Reasons To Measure

There are many reasons to measure as you track progress towards organizational business outcomes during your transformation. These include:

  • Knowing where to invest your money – and to do so based on more than just gut instinct
  • Knowing if you are building the right things for our market
  • Measuring your performance and alignment — where your inventory (the software that the development teams create) that addresses features, defects, risks, and debt is not easily visible
  • Knowing if your customers and employees are delighted (or not)

Why Don’t More Organizations Measure More Things?

In our practice, we routinely discover that many organizations don’t have much in place in terms of metrics. Why not? Some reason include:

  • People are afraid of weaponized metrics – ones used not for purposes of continuous improvement, but instead for comparison and punishment.
  • They were collecting vanity metrics, ones that didn’t offer any predictive power and eventually considered measurement programs “useless.”
  • Metrics are actionable, however, they are presented in a way that people don’t find them useful (for example endless tables of numbers instead of clear graphic representations).
  • Folks believed the “right things” were just too expensive to measure, and they failed to poke around to find existing data that would suffice.
  • They mistakenly thought the “right things” were immeasurable — and didn’t consider finding proxies.

Meaningful Agile Metrics for Digital Transformations

Successful organizational transformations put in place metrics programs that focus on global outcomes and meaningful feedback loops. This is true at any point along the transformation journey.

 

© 2020 by Andy Cleff

All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published at https://baa.tco.ac/34lU

By

Is your organization well underway implementing DevOps? Or maybe you’re just getting started with a DevOps initiative? Did you know you can maximize your chances of achieving desired business outcomes by combining DevOps with an Agile transformation?

You Keep Using Those Words…

When you hear “Business Outcomes,” “DevOps,” and/or Agile transformation” – what comes to mind?

Combining DevOps and Agile Transformations to Achieve Business Outcomes

By Andy Cleff

Is your organization well underway implementing DevOps? Or maybe you’re just getting started with a DevOps initiative? Did you know you can maximize your chances of achieving desired business outcomes by combining DevOps with an Agile transformation?

You Keep Using Those Words…

When you hear “Business Outcomes,” “DevOps,” and/or Agile transformation” – what comes to mind?

We’ll share our definitions. (If you disagree with our interpretations, contact us…we love a good exchange of ideas!)

 

Business Outcomes

It’s more than outputs.

These are the highest-level objectives of your organization. The big WHY. They are key inputs for your business and technology discussions around WHAT to work on. They are measurable outcomes – goal posts – that provide feedback on HOW your initiatives are doing.

 

DevOps

It’s more than continuous delivery.

DevOps is the practice of software development (Dev) engineers and of IT operations (Ops) working together during a product’s entire lifecycle, from design through development to production support, in order to shorten the total lead time (from concept to cash) and to provide predictable delivery of high-quality products.

 

Agile

It’s more than “Scrum.”

Agile is an iterative approach that focuses on collaboration, customer feedback, and small, rapid releases in order to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of value. While the Agile movement originated in software development, it has been applied to much more: from medical devices to spacecraft, as well as engineering, marketing, and education.

Agile Transformation

It’s more than “Training, Titles, Ceremonies, and Tools.”

It doesn’t come in a box (or inside a cloud). It ain’t a silver bullet.

An Agile transformation is a rethinking and reworking of how your organization engages technology, people, and processes to achieve specific business outcomes. It is the relentless pursuit of continuous improvement.

What’s the Pay Off?

Agile transformations and DevOps initiatives are complementary. Can you have one without the other? Sure. However, if you put the two together you have the opportunity to align the tech side of the house with the business side. This combination will enable your enterprise to gain faster feedback, reduce risks while also obtaining meaningful business outcomes.

We’ve identified nine common business outcomes, all of which are positively influenced by Agile+DevOps. (Reference: Harvard Business Review Analytic Services Survey, Sept 2018).

In our experience leadership tends to “Want them all, equally. And NOW” Sorry. If everything is important, you know the saying, nothing is. Prioritization of the organization’s highest-level objectives, to avoid whiplash and to create focus, should narrow the field down to no more than three.

You then can measure the impact of your transformation initiatives against the top outcomes, providing actionable qualitative and quantitative data. (For more on metrics, see Metrics in Agile: How to Effectively Measure Your Transformation Journey)

 

Employee Engagement Employees are more satisfied in their work, willing to go the extra mile, passionate about the purpose of their jobs, and committed to the organization.
Customer Satisfaction Customers are satisfied with the experience, benefits, and outcomes when using your product or service.
Quality The product or service meets the expectations of the market for usability, reliability, etc.
Speed The time it takes to deliver an idea into the market.
Predictability Teams maintain a predictable cadence of delivery enabling the business to make informed business decisions.
Innovation New ideas, creative thoughts, or novel imaginations provide better solutions to meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or known market needs.
Market Responsiveness The ability of the organization to pivot quickly to respond to ever-changing market demands.
Productivity Increase the business value realized while maintaining or reducing costs.
Continuous Improvement The ability of the organization to relentlessly pursue optimizations in all aspects of business functions.

(We’ve got a poster summary of these business outcomes that you can download from here.)

What to Expect…

It will be challenging as there are many potential impediments that could derail the transformation without the right support.

From organizational silos to legacy technology. From the need to ensure security and compliance, to the lack of the right skills and even the right mindsets among employees.

The good news is that there’s a path through. For over a decade, Agile Velocity has been helping enterprises chart and benchmark their progress during change initiatives. We’ve observed patterns of change, learning, and growth that move through five different stages, each building on the learnings from the previous stage. The Align stage is the first stage of the journey while Adapt requires a significant amount of agile maturity.

Align Align the initiative with measurable business outcomes and define a clear transformation roadmap.
Learn Establish foundational practices and a culture of learning by empowering teams to take ownership of their work and process.
Predict Maintain a predictable cadence of delivery, enabling organizations to make informed business decisions.
Accelerate Optimize the full value stream and shorten the time-to-market.
Adapt Embrace organization-wide adaptability in order to quickly respond to market demands.

For software powered organizations (we could make the argument that 99% of all businesses fit this description), DevOps can significantly improve their ability to progress through the latter stages of Predict, Accelerate and Adapt.

Science has proven that introducing change into any system will result in a period of chaos until a new status quo is achieved. When adopting DevOps practices or undergoing an Agile transformation, organizations will experience a temporary decrease in performance before integrating new practices enables a new, more performant, status quo.

Many leaders don’t acknowledge or plan for the “dip” that accompanies the learning stage – adding more change, producing more chaos, resulting in failed initiatives. Any organizational change must have leadership support along the entire journey or it will be short-lived or fail outright. With leadership support and by using the stages as a guide, time spent in “chaos” can be reduced.

Transformation Leadership – Where to Lean In

In their book Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations, Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble, and Gene Kim discuss the role of leadership and call it out as one of the more overlooked topics in transformation.

Like the authors, we believe that “Leadership really does have a powerful impact on results. . . . A good leader affects a team’s ability to deliver … how the team manages its work and develops products. All of these have a measurable impact on an organization’s profitability, productivity, and market share. These also have an impact on customer satisfaction, efficiency, and the ability to achieve organizational goals.”

Some of the key transformation elements which require leadership involvement include:

 

Sense of Urgency

  • Identifying and communicating the compelling reason(s) why the organization should change
  • Ensuring alignment around the compelling purpose has been achieved at all levels

 

Roll Out Strategy

  • Defining an initial transformation roadmap, one that takes into account organization structure demands, top risks, and incremental rollouts
  • Aligning teams to value

 

Enabling Action

  • Facilitating change to support the overall transformation
  • Resolving organizational obstacles and impediments with urgency
  • Continuing to communicate the change vision (rinse and repeat)

 

Cultural Shifts

All transformations require shifts in culture and mindset. How big? The standard answer: “It depends!” Some situational variables are current organizational levels of

  • Agile Architecture (vs monolithic, tightly coupled systems)
  • Slack/Learning Time (vs emphasis on 100% “resource” utilization)
  • Automation – Testing and Integration (vs over the wall or manual)
  • Tolerance for Experimentation and Failure (vs perfection and/or blame seeking)
  • Ability to Measure with Actionable Metrics (vs vanity metrics or zero data gathering)

For more see Leadership Skills for the New Normal.

 

 

© 2020 by Andy Cleff

All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published at https://baa.tco.ac/3DZt

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After reading the Gallup Group’s article “Remote Agile: Sustain Performance While Working Remotely” a few things floated up in my mind. To keep those things from bouncing around too much, I thought I’d write them down and share them out.

In case you haven’t read the article, here are Gallup’s key points and recommendations for sustaining performance for remote and distributed teams at a glance.

How to Build and Sustain Organizational Resilience

By Andy Cleff

After reading the Gallup Group’s article “Remote Agile: Sustain Performance While Working Remotely” a few things floated up in my mind. To keep those things from bouncing around too much, I thought I’d write them down and share them out.

In case you haven’t read the article, here are Gallup’s key points and recommendations for sustaining performance for remote and distributed teams at a glance:

  1. The need for remote Agile happened overnight amid the pandemic
  2. Build trust through relationships to combat anxiety in agile remote teams
  3. Focus on four key actions to bolster a successful new way of working:
    • Maximize the use of virtual collaboration tools for remote teams
    • Replicate agile rituals while working remotely
    • Build trust in a remote work environment
    • Get closer to your customers

The Elephant in the Room

While there are some interesting (and debatable) points in the article, I think Gallup has missed a larger and more significant issue.

The issue is not about performance through tools and rituals. It is about building and sustaining organizational resilience–at individual, team, system and organizational layers–in the face of a VUCA* world, cranked up to eleven.

What is Organizational Resilience?

The dictionary definition–the capacity to adapt to stress or loss healthfully–provides a starting point. Daryl Conner, in a blog post expands things by providing a set of five “change muscles” that are needed to realize a capacity of organizational resilience:

  • Positivity: seeing possibilities in even the most discouraging of situations
  • Focus: knowing what’s important, and having a clear sense of priorities
  • Flexibility: in the midst of ambiguity, complexity, and chaos, the ability to generate a wide range of options and ideas
  • Organization: building plans, creating systems and structures to work effectively, and use their energy efficiently
  • Proactivity: ability to carry out experiments with less than complete information

Mind the Wall

Based on what I’m sensing, hearing, and experiencing, many of us are at the equivalent of mile 18 or 20 of a marathon. Our surge capacity has been depleted. After running this far, we still have another 6 to go! To make things worse, there are no cowbells from the crowd to cheer us on and the finish line doesn’t seem to be getting any closer. In fact, I’d swear someone keeps moving it out.

In these times, we are dealing constantly with the opposite of Conner’s capacities: negativity, lack of focus, rigidity, disorganization, reactivity. We are facing “the wall” with prospects of burnout, as individuals, cascading to teams, and eventually hitting the entire organization.

Luckily, there are several approaches to addressing burnout in our topsy-turvy world:

  • Individual plans (decentralized)
  • Team and Cross-Team agreements (decentralized)
  • Organizational policies and practices (centralized)

Start with Simple: Self Care

Individual plans are perhaps the simplest to get going. I’m experimenting with the following elements, both for my own resilience training plan as well during 1:1 coaching that I do:

  • Routines: establishing a base of predictability in each day
  • Grace: operating under the assumption that everyone, myself included, is doing the best they can given current circumstances
  • Hobbies: Now that we “live at work” we need to make sure we’re not all work and no play
  • Connections: Planned serendipity with friends, family, colleagues, walks outside without screens/earbuds
  • Boundaries/Constraints: Pomodori, WIP limits, one quarantini, not two or three, the ability to say “No.”

A few nice things about the above “me, myself and I” components: they don’t care about which branch of the org tree an individual sits on, and they can scale to team and system levels.

Team Working Agreements: We Care

When’s the last time teams reviewed their working agreements to align with the new normal… especially taking into account the human elements?

One very powerful practice at a team level is to have check-ins.  At the start of every interaction ask, “How are you doing?”–and when asked, provide an honest response.

Another: Express appreciation. What the person has done doesn’t have to be a huge thing. In fact, it could be one of those tiny, everyday occurrences that may seem relatively insignificant yet made a difference to how the day, or even the past hour, went. For you, for the team, for your customers. Read more about recognition, see: “Take 5”

And a third (the power of three): Collective identification and mitigation of the thieves of time— becoming aware of and addressing the drag in the system.

Leadership Agility: Shaping the System

More than ever, leaders at every level need to remember that embracing Agile is not going to make all the problems go away; instead, it will shine a light on them. Those problems will still need to be dealt with.

Team Empowerment

Leadership agility unlocks the capability for many of those issues to be solved at the team level by ensuring teams have control, competence, and clarity. (For more on the topic of team empowerment, listen to our conversation with David Marquet about Intent Based Leadership)

Policies and Practices

Leaders also need to examine and re-shape organizational policies and practices to enable teams to better handle adversity with resilience and grit. These include HR policies around benefits, time off, flexible working hours, and more. For example, at Agile Velocity, we have expanded our vacation policy from one month to unlimited time off.

Developers of People

Agile leaders also need to shift in how they work with people, especially those who report to them. A key aspect is to create the conditions for success and guiding the development and growth of their staff.

Now more than ever effective 1-on-1’s are needed. Leaders and their staff need to pause and think about what they’ve accomplished, to share how they perceive the world around themselves, and discuss what they have the potential to achieve. For more info, see Ponderfy – “Mindfulness Hacks for Busy People”

The Right Focus

Instead of a focus on sustaining performance, think about nurturing healthy environments that enable people to work through the tough problems that come with the complex (and chaotic) domains they travel daily.

If you focus on creating the conditions for a culture rich with organizational resilience, then higher levels of performance – (any way you define it: Employee Engagement, Customer Satisfaction, Quality, Speed, Predictability, Innovation, Market Responsiveness, Productivity, Continuous Improvement) will follow along for the ride.

 

*VUCA (volatile, unpredictable, complex, ambiguous)

 

 

© 2020 by Andy Cleff

All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published at https://baa.tco.ac/3ENY

About Best Agile Articles Project

Best Agile Articles is a collaborative project of the Agile community to bring you the best of the best publications each year. Our goal in publishing these yearly editions is to cull through the many articles that are published each year and provide you with a curated set of high-quality articles that capture the latest knowledge and experience of the agile community in one compact volume.
Our purpose is twofold. First, we understand that it’s hard to figure out where to go when looking for ideas and answers. There are thousands of blogs, videos, books and other resources available at the click of a mouse. But that can be a lot to sort through. So, we thought we could be of some help. Second, we wanted to bring some visibility to many people who are doing outstanding work in this field and are providing helpful resources. We hope that this publication will help them connect to you, the ones they are writing for.
Our intention is that this publication is to be by the agile community as a service to the agile community and for the agile community. With that in mind, we pulled together a great group of volunteers to help get this work into your hands.

The articles in this volume were selected by:
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• The agile community. A call for article nominations went out in early 2020 and several dozen 2019 articles were nominated by the community.

The articles themselves cover a wide variety of topics including organizational structure, culture, and agile leadership. There is something for almost everyone here. All editions of the Best Agile Articles publication are available on Amazon and free to download on the Best Agile Article site.
We are thankful for the great participation by the agile community at large. If you would like to participate in delivering this publication in future years, we would welcome hearing from you.

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