Situational Analysis to Stay Ahead of the Game

For posterity, I’m capturing the details here of the Situational Analysis to Stay Ahead of the Game workshop.

It was run as part of the London Agile Delivery & Coaching Network meetup group.

The workshop was run on 13th July 2016. It was organised and run by me (Dean Latchana) and Tom Broughton.


Workshop description

Situational Analysis to Stay Ahead of the Game

Until recently, most companies we work for had a clear idea of who their rivals were and how to compete. But in recent years the digital revolution, political upheaval and globalisation has blurred strategic clarity; their environment has become far more complex.

Companies and teams are often faced with concerns regarding their productivity and effectiveness in the marketplace. Often their solution is to work faster at doing the same or cutting costs whilst trying to maintain the status quo.  For many this strategy won’t stop their decline into irrelevance. Such organisations need to overcome their myopia, look to the horizon and regain their situation awareness.

With situational awareness we can help our organisations distinguish between known and unknown areas of business operations and the market dynamics in which they operate. Situation awareness will help us understand where to apply practices appropriate for exploration & experimentation versus execution & delivery.

This event is an introduction to ways that’ll help you and your organisation regain better situational awareness, and identify where complexity exists. For each situation we will explore appropriate working practices, such as agile service design, budgeting and business model generation.

We’ll be using the Cynefin framework’s decision model, introducing how to analyse how your vision is positioned in the market and how effective your capabilities are to realise it.

This introduction is an evolution of the material and thinking already presented at many organisations operating in rapidly changing environments, such as Telegraph Media Group, Financial Times, UK Government Cabinet Office department and at several events & conferences.


Photos from the workshop


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21 June 2016 – London Agile Delivery & Coaching meet-up – Agile coaching, change control and discretionary behaviour

Sandra and I were at the London Agile Delivery & Coaching Network on Tuesday.

Here’s some of the areas we covered.

  • The difference between the role of a scrum master and an agile coach. Key differentiator being agile coaching is driven by leading and coaching through the values and principles and the application of the right agile method for the organisational context.
  • The benefits of visualisation of team boards. Physical and electronic. The power of physical product backlogs, cardwall or a burnup chart as it drives richer focused conversations and provided greater insight to understanding the state of a project or sprint. Experiences of organisations with “clean” wall environment and ways of dealing with these policies.
  • Sandra’s experience at Western Australia’s energy company. Dealing with resistance at middle management level and their reluctance for team autonomy. Strategies in dealing with such issues lead to measuring and reporting inefficiencies in the change control process and in the subjective measures of the delivery team’s frustration and motivation. Change is slow but the key learning is demonstrated through measured facts and the cost of inefficiencies.
  • Dean’s experience of SAFe’s PI Planning at the Telegraph Media Group.
pi-planning-board
One team’s output from PI Planning. It shows the sprints for the quarter, estimated availability per sprint, and what the team believes could be delivered in each sprint.
  • Weighted Shortest Job First technique for prioritising backlog. Including learning and team bonding as a weighting factor.
  • Why DevOps not just about process and tools, but perhaps more profoundly about people’s understanding, empathy and collaboration beyond their typical team boundaries
  • Why striving for happiness maybe dangerous, and why qualities such as equanimity maybe a healthier characteristic. Listen to Boss Level’s podcast: Kathrine Kirk and when happiness fails you
  • Motivation and discretionary behaviour at work. Employees can be either motivated and willing to perform and produce more than contractually obliged, or conversely employees game the system so they get away with doing as little as possible without getting fired.

    Illustration demonstrating the range of an employee's discretionary behaviour.
    Illustration demonstrating the range of an employee’s discretionary behaviour.

London Agile Delivery & Coaching meetups is different to the typical Agile meetup because they’re intentionally kept to a small number of people. This allows folks to have an open and more in-depth set of discussions, and perhaps have a more frank and honest debate. It’s an open forum with no upfront agenda.

Look out for the next London Agile Delivery & Coaching Network meetup.

Cheers,

Sandra Dalli and Dean Latchana

24 May 2016 – London Agile Coaching meet-up – Scrum Master interview questions, Commodore Pet and Larry Weed’s classic 1971 lecture

Baldev and I were at the London Agile Coaching Network on Tuesday.

Here’s some of the areas we covered.

  • We discussed ways to respond to this interview question “How do you deal with a developer who is resistant to testing, who has finished their assigned sprint backlog”
  • We also discuss this interview question “What would you say to the Head of Software Engineering who wants to attend all the scrum ceremonies”
  • Dean spoke briefly about the UK Government’s Digital Marketplace, where individuals and organisation with digital specialisms can be matched with work and outcomes needed by the gov’t.
  • Dean tested and got some valuable feedback on his Teal organisations, and Buurtzorg nursing home care presentation. Dean plans to present this at Government Digital Services. Teal characterises organisations that are gaining the benefits of individual and team self-management, wholeness, and a deeper sense of purpose.

  • Baldev spoke about some of his rich and varied career history where he programmed one of the earliest digital medical records on a Commodore Pet.
Commodore Pet
Commodore Pet
  • This prompted us to talk about Larry Weed’s classic 1971 lecture, where he berated doctors in the United States for not keeping up-to-date and easily accessible patient medical records. In the lecture Dr Larry Weed discusses problem-orientated medical record keeping and clinical decision-making – perhaps something we can draw analogies from.
Larry Weed
Larry Weed at the 1971 Internal Medicine Grand Rounds

London Agile Coaching Network meetups is different to the typical Agile meetup because they’re intentionally kept to a small number of people. This allows folks to have an open and more in-depth set of discussions, and perhaps have a more frank and honest debate. It’s an open forum with no upfront agenda.

Look out for the next London Agile Coaching Network meetup.

Baldev Dhadda and Dean Latchana

19 April 2016 – London Agile Coaching meet-up – Teal organisations, SAFe framework and agile podcasts

Joakim Sahlberg, Raghav and I were at the London Agile Coaching Network meetup on Tuesday night . We had a wide-reaching set of discussions.

Here’s some of the areas we covered.

London Agile Coaching Network meetups is different to the typical Agile meetup because they’re intentionally kept to a small number of people. This allows folks to have an open and more in-depth set of discussions, and perhaps have a more frank and honest debate. It’s an open forum with no upfront agenda.

Look out for the next London Agile Coaching Network meetup.

8 March 2016 – London Agile Coaching meet-up – Phoenix Project, BDD and Speccing Sessions

Back on the 8th March 2016, Greg and Veronika came along to the London Agile Coaching meetup. Amongst many things we spoke about The Phoenix Project book, about how BDD isn’t just about testing, and BDD speccing sessions.

Here’s my write-up of the meetup, which I shared with them.

The Phoenix Project book

This is one of the best books I’ve read about a corporate transformation rescue mission. Through a storytelling form it talks about the Theory of Constraints, getting disparate confrontational teams to cooperate, key-person dependencies, pulling all-nighters, and dealing with stress.

At times it’s almost philosophical.

Behaviour Driven Development is more than just testing

Something that Gojko Adzic, the author of Specification by Example, advocates is that BDD isn’t about testing per se.

It’s more about getting a shared understanding of the business problem/opportunity throughout the value chain (i.e. end-user, stakeholder, product, marketing/sales delivery team, operations), and arriving at a consensus in a style that business people understand and in a form with which solutions can be built and maintained.

By exploring the business case together teams form a common understanding, expectation and vocabulary that carries across the business area.

BDD Speccing sessions

One technique for developing the common understanding I described above is to intentionally encouraging divergent opinions. This is something a department in the Financial Times do very well. They use an emergent diverge/converge facilitation technique where a large group of people are briefly introduced to a user story, and then break out into teams (they diverge) to develop the scenarios independently.

After about 40 minutes they then regroup to talk through their thinking. Different opinions and perspectives are valued and discussed. With the guidance of Product, a common consensus is formed (they converge), scenarios and acceptance criteria are documented, which then goes towards building and maintaining the behaviours of the business systems they’re changing.

Quoting Dan North “If we could develop a consistent vocabulary for analysts, testers, developers, and the business, then we would be well on the way to eliminating some of the ambiguity and miscommunication that occur when technical people talk to business people.”

I’ve facilitated such speccing session before. Here’s a few seconds from one I facilitated: https://goo.gl/photos/a947QpEkA7EdXCV6A

About the London Agile Coaching Network

London Agile Coaching Network meetups is different to the typical Agile meetup because they’re intentionally kept to a small number of people. This allows folks to have an open and more in-depth set of discussions, and perhaps have a more frank and honest debate. It’s an open forum with no upfront agenda.

Look out for the next London Agile Coaching Network meetup.