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Agile IT Organization Design: For Digital Transformation and Continuous Delivery

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  • Copyright 2015
  • Dimensions: 7" x 9-1/8"
  • Pages: 304
  • Edition: 1st
  • eBook (Watermarked)
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-390366-4
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-390366-9

Design IT Organizations for Agility at Scale

Aspiring digital businesses need overall IT agility, not just development team agility. In Agile IT Organization Design, IT management consultant and ThoughtWorks veteran Sriram Narayan shows how to infuse agility throughout your organization. Drawing on more than fifteen years’ experience working with enterprise clients in IT-intensive industries, he introduces an agile approach to “Business–IT Effectiveness” that is as practical as it is valuable.

The author shows how structural, political, operational, and cultural facets of organization design influence overall IT agility—and how you can promote better collaboration across diverse functions, from sales and marketing to product development, and engineering to IT operations. Through real examples, he helps you evaluate and improve organization designs that enhance autonomy, mastery, and purpose: the key ingredients for a highly motivated workforce.

You’ll find “close range” coverage of team design, accountability, alignment, project finance, tooling, metrics, organizational norms, communication, and culture. For each, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of where your organization stands, and clear direction for making improvements. Ready to optimize the performance of your IT organization or digital business? Here are practical solutions for the long term, and for right now.

  • Govern for value over predictability
  • Organize for responsiveness, not lowest cost
  • Clarify accountability for outcomes and for decisions along the way
  • Strengthen the alignment of autonomous teams
  • Move beyond project teams to capability teams
  • Break down tool-induced silos
  • Choose financial practices that are free of harmful side effects
  • Create and retain great teams despite today’s “talent crunch”
  • Reform metrics to promote (not prevent) agility
  • Evolve culture through improvements to structure, practices, and leadership—and careful, deliberate interventions

Sample Content

Table of Contents

Preface xix

Acknowledgments xxiii

About the Author xxv

Glossary xxvii

Chapter 1: Context 1

1.1 Focus 2

1.2 Business, IT, and Shadow IT 3

1.3 Business-IT Effectiveness 5

1.4 Digital Transformation 7

1.5 Bimodal IT and Dual Operating Systems 10

1.6 Angles of Coverage 10

1.7 Summary 11

Chapter 2: The Agile Credo 13

2.1 Understanding the Agile Manifesto 14

2.2 Continuous Delivery and DevOps 15

2.3 Agile Culture 16

2.4 Common Themes 18

2.5 Isn’t Agile Dead? 21

2.6 Summary 22

Chapter 3: Key Themes 25

3.1 Software Development Reconsidered 26

3.2 Govern for Value over Predictability 28

3.3 Organize for Responsiveness over Cost-efficiency 30

3.4 Design for Intrinsic Motivation and Unscripted Collaboration 33

3.5 Summary 35

Chapter 4: Superstructure 37

4.1 Business Activities and Outcomes 37

4.2 Centralization and Decentralization 41

4.3 Silos 42

4.4 Summary of Insights 45

4.5 Summary of Actions 46

Chapter 5: Team Design 47

5.1 Framing the Problem 47

5.2 Activity-oriented Teams 48

5.3 Shared Services 54

5.4 Cross-functional Teams 56

5.5 Cross-functionality in Other Domains 61

5.6 Migrating to Cross-functional Teams 63

5.7 Communities of Practice 65

5.8 Maintenance Teams 65

5.9 Outsourcing 66

5.10 The Matrix: Solve It or Dissolve It 68

5.11 Summary of Insights 72

5.12 Summary of Actions 73

Chapter 6: Accountability 75

6.1 Power and Hierarchy 75

6.2 Balance Autonomy with Accountability 77

6.3 Assign Accountability 78

6.4 Minimize Power Struggles 82

6.5 Decide on an Outcome Owner 85

6.6 Migration 86

6.7 Decision Accountability 86

6.8 Planning and Execution 92

6.9 Org Chart Debt 97

6.10 Summary of Insights 98

6.11 Summary of Actions 98

Chapter 7: Alignment 99

7.1 Articulate Strategy for General Alignment 99

7.2 Aligning IT with Business 101

7.3 Structural Alignment 105

7.4 Making Business Play Its Part 107

7.5 Summary of Insights 108

7.6 Summary of Actions 108

Chapter 8: Projects 109

8.1 What Is Wrong with Plan-driven Software Projects? 109

8.2 Budget for Capacity, Not for Projects 110

8.3 Business-capability-centric IT 112

8.4 Project Business Cases 115

8.5 Value-driven Projects 117

8.6 Project Managers 119

8.7 Governance 120

8.8 Change Programs and Initiatives 121

8.9 Summary of Insights 123

8.10 Summary of Actions 123

Chapter 9: Finance 125

9.1 Relevance 125

9.2 Cost Center or Profit Center 126

9.3 Chargebacks 126

9.4 CapEx and OpEx 127

9.5 Conventional Budgeting 130

9.6 Agile Budgeting 132

9.7 Summary of Insights 134

9.8 Summary of Actions 135

Chapter 10: Staffing 137

10.1 Dealing with the Talent Crunch 137

10.2 Go Beyond Project Teams 139

10.3 Better Staffing 141

10.4 Summary of Insights 146

10.5 Summary of Actions 147

Chapter 11: Tooling 149

11.1 Access Control for Unscripted Collaboration 149

11.2 Subtle Effects of the Toolchain 151

11.3 Technology Isn’t Value Neutral 154

11.4 Tool Evaluation 157

11.5 Summary of Insights 158

11.6 Summary of Actions 158

Chapter 12: Metrics 159

12.1 Metrics Don’t Tell the Whole Story 159

12.2 Dashboards Promote Ignorance 162

12.3 The Problem with Targets and Incentives 163

12.4 Reforming the Metrics Regime 171

12.5 Designing Better Metrics 175

12.6 Objections to Metrics Reform 178

12.7 Migration 179

12.8 Summary of Insights 180

12.9 Summary of Actions 181

Chapter 13: Norms 183

13.1 What Are Norms? 183

13.2 Reinforcing Norms 184

13.3 Cooperation over Competition 186

13.4 Living Policies 187

13.5 Consistency over Uniformity 189

13.6 Ask for Forgiveness, Not for Permission 192

13.7 Confidential Surveys 193

13.8 Balance Theory and Practice 193

13.9 Summary of Insights 195

13.10 Summary of Actions 195

Chapter 14: Communications 197

14.1 Intrinsic Motivation 197

14.2 Interpersonal Communications: Problems 198

14.3 Interpersonal Communications: Mitigation 203

14.4 Scaling Employee Engagement through Internal Communications 204

14.5 Deliberating in Writing 208

14.6 The Use and Misuse of Visual Aids 211

14.7 Documents, Reports, and Templates 216

14.8 Summary of Insights 217

14.9 Summary of Actions 217

Chapter 15: The Office 219

15.1 Open-plan Layouts 219

15.2 Ergonomics 222

15.3 Remote Working 224

15.4 Summary of Insights 225

15.5 Summary of Actions 225

Chapter 16: Wrap-up 227

16.1 Summary of Effects 227

16.2 Order of Adoption 233

16.3 Information Radiators 234

16.4 Sample Exercise 235

16.5 IT Services 236

16.6 GICs 240

16.7 Beyond IT 243

Bibliography 245

Index 247


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