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This chapter is from the book

Building Organizational Responsiveness

For the past decade, organizations with software delivery teams have invested heavily in learning agile delivery practices—practices that promise to help the organization eliminate wasted efforts, make better decisions through collaboration and higher-quality output, and move faster. Ultimately, this way of working enables leaders to steer the organization toward delivering more customer value. However, as the previous CEO story shows, organizations scaling agile software delivery practices still lament their inability to realize the promised value of adopting the agile philosophy.

To effectively build organizational responsiveness, your strategy must be broken down into a portfolio of small pieces of value that can be prioritized. Big things take a long time. Small things take a short time. To be responsive and adaptive, you need to work on smaller things, deliver rapidly, and learn quickly from feedback. These small initiatives provide a clearer sense of whether the investments are allocated to the right areas or whether adjustments need to be made. You will need lightweight governance and adaptive leadership to respond to external pressures, improve agility, and focus on value. Moreover, teams must be set up to deliver in an incremental, adaptive way to release often, enabling faster feedback loops with customers and leaders.

Figure 1-2 is a model of how organizations can better pursue new and existing market opportunities and deliver higher value for the investment made. The first component of a responsive enterprise is an executive vision that expresses how the organization intends to prosper in the future. The business strategy states how the business organization intends to achieve the vision expressed as customer outcome goals. Focusing on external customer outcomes and value rather than internal business benefits such as return on investment (ROI) is central to the EDGE message.

FIGURE 1-2

FIGURE 1-2 Building a responsive organization.

The next component and a major focus of EDGE is portfolio management. The investment portfolio is broken down into small pieces. Funding is allocated based on highest value and incrementally allocated until the probability of success is high. This portfolio breakdown enables low-value work to be stopped, with the organization directing its efforts toward the highest-value and limiting work in progress so that teams are focused on one thing at a time. Product architecture translates goals into actionable thin slices of work that agile teams can deliver and measure as incremental successes. Agile delivery builds effective solutions rapidly using practices such as short iterations, design thinking, refactoring, continuous delivery, and evolutionary architecture.

Finally, measurement of value directs teams at all levels to be evaluated on outcomes delivered, rather than what the costs were or whether they met a predetermined delivery date. While costs and schedules are important, they are constraints, not objectives. Measures are broken down to guide teams toward the creation of value.

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