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Think like a start-up! How fast are your decisions?

Have you ever wondered what drives the high productivity of start-ups? An agile culture continuously takes small productivity boosting steps. Start-ups are obsessive about velocity and creating an agile “Way of Working”. Read on to start the journey with your own teams.

It is both a very large challenge and a small one at the same time. “Grown up” teams tend towards measuring progress in monetary terms, at least to start with and the reality is that agile culture transformation costs money and can be hard to measure especially during inception. So this in turn means established teams struggle to build consensus on how to start.

There are two elements that you must separate out:

Value Delivery

Projects or even single days of effort produce blocks of value. This gets noticed. You need to use these blocks of value to show progress. “Hey, I delivered that latest report!” The report is the business value. But how did you produce the report?

If you want to deliver agile culture improvement you must concentrate on both the content (Value) and the way of working (How).

Way of Working

The “Way of Working” or agile culture improvement, is a continuous activity. It will never stop. It will become the new normal. Do not think of it as a “project”. Because of this ongoing nature many organisations find it nebulous and hard to plan out effectively.

Xonetic apply a Business Technology Way of Working, which pragmatically incorporates standards such as Scaled Agile Framework, ITIL 4 and Prince.

Here are 5 coaching points for you to think about.
  1. Have a (small) goal in mind

The most important starting point is to avoid over complicating things. Do not even think about how to measure success or have a grand scheme (park this for later). It doesn’t need to be that hard. Start with a small idea, perhaps ask employees to list the 5 tasks they hate the most. Hate is a good measure, much easier to define than cost or quality.

  1. Take small steps

Trying to change too much at once is a sure-fire way to spend a lot of money/time and whilst it can be successful its a high-risk strategy. Above all however, changing a lot of things at once is slow. Complexity is the enemy. Whilst you are describing what the change is, and asking others to buy in, you are not making progress.

It is better to make steady progress and see continual results than a long period of intensive effort (during which it is easy to get blown off course or just plain demoralised).

  1. Remember your progress

It can be very easy to focus on what is next and forget what came before. A visual representation of progress is vital and it can be simple. Marbles in a jar? A tally of minutes saved? Be sure to regularly communicate this with your team. Culture change requires lots of communication.

Remember that others may only recognise the “value” you have delivered, rather than the “way of working” improvement that has delivered it. This is ok.

  1. Make decision making a part of your daily routine.

Many organisations get stuck on decisions. Who should sign off and who knows enough to decide? Who has the authority? The key to unlocking this is the size of the decision and the frequency of decision making. Too many organisations have weekly or worse monthly steering meetings. This sets a precedence that decision making is something to do occasionally and by a select few. Decisions should be taken rapidly – set a rule about the maximum time a decision can take – try 12 hours. If you make faster decisions you will inevitably break the questions into smaller steps. We call this Minimum Viable Governance.

  1. Ask for guidance and not decisions.

Leadership should focus on mentoring, guiding and coaching. The more guidance that is available the easier it is for decisions to be taken. Look for precedence set in other areas and seek guidance on how to apply it. Guidance is on ongoing discussion with your stakeholders which in turn boosts communication.

  1. Have a big goal in mind!

No this doesn’t contradict the first point. It is important to know where you are headed. Take a point 12 months out and work back in monthly steps, and then do it again from 3 years out in 6 month steps. This thinking is vital to ensure you have a heading set. It will enable you to get others to buy in to your vision. A framework such as Business Technology is vital to help you set direction.

Isn’t that 6 points? Well yes. Don’t be too constrained with “rules”.

At Xonetic we solve your hardest technology challenges. Follow the steps above to get started on the road to agile culture transformation and accelerate business value creation.

#Xonetic #BusinessTechnology #WaysofWorking

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Coach & Facilitator

ELENA VAN LEEMPUT

I like my work best when I can motivate and help other people. I constantly strive for excellence in everything I do and I’m open to different ideas that challenge my views. I believe in constant change which drives my innovative mindset. My background is both in technology and business with more than 15 years’ experience ranging from demand, development to service management. I enjoy taking initiative and carry out new ventures.

I try to keep things simple and bring my skills when I coach and facilitate to inspire people and help them innovate. I’m passionate about all forms of facilitation and coaching be it face-to-face or virtual facilitation. I also enjoy creating different e-learning training, holding innovation workshops and design thinking hackathons.

I also find it very important to nurture my creative side along the way (visual arts: photography, sketching, videography and all areas of design) through both my work and hobbies – which I’m happy to say I get to do often enough.

elena.van.leemput@sofigate.com

Coach & Facilitator

THOMAS HUGHES

I work as coach and facilitator in the Business Technology Academy. My focus is business simulation games such as the DevOps simulation. I consider myself a full-stack Business Technology professional of sorts. During the past 20+ years, I’ve worked in wide range of various IT and business management roles in and with organizations ranging from global enterprises to startups in a variety of industries.

I enjoy looking for new perspectives to phenomena and challenging myself and others to continuously develop ourselves and to expand our thinking. Being in the discomfort zone is the way to grow. As a coach I like to cross breed theoretical frameworks, practical examples, illuminating stories and humour. I see simulation games as a perfect way to combine these into an engaging and fun day.    

I enjoy exploring life through various projects and experiments. Some of these involve focused self-development both physically and mentally, while others focus more on creative aspirations related to areas like photography, writing and digital media.

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