[Note. It will be wise if you be aware that the game of victory in social organization is not about winning over others, but about co-creating a sustainable social eco-system that will have its own life and provides sustainable life to everyone in the ecosystem, not about greed and power over others. Please also check another article on “Be like water” to manage resistance in the human social organization that could hamper or help to sustain the flow of value,** here**
(Note: Please don’t confuse with the word agile of the Agile Manifesto; you will be in a very safe position when you assume that the Agile transformation that is going on in the Main Street is as good as putting the cart before the horse - AgileIsA Cart. Who would invest their scare resource -money-to chase a mirage?)
This is an attempt to bring forth the core thought process that is needed to develop your organization to have a set of true agile characteristics; this is a state of being agile where you will have capabilities to morph into different shapes as the changing market environment dictates for new products and services, for higher speed of delivery, and for keeping lower cost and higher quality; in addition, your organization desires to have stability and safety of all elements, like swift maneuverability and stability of an aircraft.
You are reminded again that your journey will end at the outset itself when you take forward transformation steps with some preconceived ideas or a method or framework or outside manifestos and values that might not be symbiotically viable to your organizational culture.
Core Thinking- Thinking Processes, Pattern Thinking, and Mental Models.
What longer term strategies would you aspire to have in your planning activities to retain, reuse, to sustain the knowledge of the understanding that has been developed over the years? Would you think through to revise strategies as necessary at every stage of the execution?
As the word agile has became a common word in the corporate world as the air that we breath-in and breath-out, may the wisdom be with you to pause for a moment to think through to visualize and define the true characteristics of what being agile means. This state of being agile exists since beginning of the evolution of life on this planet, at least. Let us define this characteristics as follows: your organization’s action display characteristics of being agile only when it has true, real capabilities to sustain itself in a competitive environment which enables to morph into different shapes to ever changing demands. In order to achieve that state, you will need to find your own way to design your whole system. How does it sounds when a tiger asks a donkey how can I be agile or vice-versa? Even an elephant can be agile if it can set right thinking at the outset? If your thought process cannot think of a strategy that could put you in a state of agile then that default culture of yours will drive a strategy that can put on a path that will burn all your resources.
With a hope that you have set your core thinking on how you can be agile, one other set of thinking that you cannot ignore is the need for strategic thinking. One primary question that you need to ask yourself is what kind of strategic thinking capabilities you currently have? Are those aligned at all levels in your organization? How could you develop capabilities for strategic thinking which can be used at every level and for all of your execution activities? Experience has shown that several organizations are very good at strategic thinking, but most fail at execution. How would you be able develop and sustain capabilities for strategic thinking like in a chess game when thinking is really part of execution?
With the assumption that you already have a right philosophy, creating a phenomena of business agility to build a truly agile organization requires, at least, the following two elements:
- A right set of sustainable strategic thinking, like in a chess game and
- Organizational wide alignment to execute those strategies.
Both must be present at all levels and all the time.
What Kind of Strategic Thinking - Thinking like in a Chess Game?
This strategic thinking means you will need to plan several steps in advance, not just swimming through empiricism at each of the steps in the journey. Think through a chess game metaphor. What would happen if you just depend on only empiricism and plan only focusing on the next step without thinking through several steps ahead? Organizational context is lot more complex than that of a chess game as choice is being exhibited by everyone; a chess game has defined rules and roles and has only two minds that can exhibit a choice to think through the strategies in that game.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could develop capabilities for strategic thinking that will have mechanism to think through several steps ahead of the competition, capabilities for planning and execution activities are synch with the strategies, and, last but not the least, capabilities for implementation of goals without burning too much of your resources.
How can the TameFlow Approach help in your strategic thinking like the thinking required in a chess game? Let us explore some possibilities, we only list a few in this article. One of the important capabilities that everyone must have is to visualize and develop shared understanding of the current state and future state and, also, to have clarity to set right the goals. What about having a right set off capabilities, tools, and techniques to resolve conflicts and identify necessary and sufficient conditions to achieve goals, etc. As the TameFlow approach has adopted the well-known Theory of Constraints Thinking Processes, Mental Models, Thinking Patterns, you will be in a better position to develop those capabilities for strategy making, mapping out current state and future state mapping of objectives, developing goal trees, etc. This capabilities will also help you to design activities that are needed to map out mastering flow and throughput of value. As both the current state and future state keep changing, so do your organization requirements.
Know more about Strategy and Tactics Tree, Goal Tree, and how TameFlow approach to strategy is more powerful than the OKRs. Please explore further,** here. **
Aligning Strategic Thinking to Work Execution?
As mentioned earlier, in a chess game there are only two minds to think through strategies for execution of next steps and all pieces in that game act based on thinking of these two minds, whereas in social organizations an individual mind has a choice to make on what they would like to do and has their own personal vision and, probably, selfish-interest.
How can you amalgamate the set of these individual’s and/or groups’s choice and their vision to the organizational wide vision and alignment to the execution at ground/frontline levels? Thinking through all the possibilities to lay a path of transformational journey to design social aspects of your organizational design is one possible answer to this challenge.
How can the TameFlow approach help you to align your strategic ideas or themes to execution at the ground level? How can you retain this alignment at all levels? As there are several concepts and metaphors that the TameFlow approach could help you to discover techniques to emerge in your context, this article only list a few of those. Some of them are emerging design of workflows, work processes, and work execution and this can be scalable to large organization spanning over several hundreds and thousands of people. Actionable flow metrics is another concept and methods that will help you to identify bottlenecks and constraints in your workflows. In addition, Inspired Leadership, Thinking Patterns, Mental Models help everyone to be in sync and aligned to a common purpose in your transformational journey. For example, to align everyone together for a purpose during your execution phase - the story of ‘Patient is in the hospital’ helps all to focus on actions that need immediate attention. The metaphor ‘Herbie’ makes you aware of weaknesses and help everyone rally around where to focus your next investment; the concepts of Throughput Accounting will help you to make right investment decisions.
Another simple metaphor and concept that the TameFlow approach adopted is the Jeep, the Jungle, and the Journey, these are the corresponding respective terms for the Work Process, the Work Flow and the Work Execution. This is the real beauty of the TameFlow approach which could be your way to keep alignment at all levels and at all times and connecting your strategy to an effective execution. Won’t you be interested to Make Money Today and in the Future? In addition, the actionable flow metrics will help to shed light on the flow efficiency of work items; designing and managing the flow through constraint in your workflows - the ‘Herbie’- constraints in the workflow, decision making through Throughput Accounting, Hyper Performance through Core protocols, and several other leadership and management models.
Please keep asking this question: how can you realize and develop this core thinking processes and aligning right strategies to execution and think through several steps ahead like in a chess game and align your entire organization to the winds of change? How to have real clarity of the current state of your teams and organization through actionable metrics that will not allow dysfunctions to seep through foundation-less metrics like story points and velocity? Know more about the problems with story points and velocity,** here.**
Have more questions generated by your team? It might be time to embrace the TameFlow approach in your transformational journey.
No questions! Then, no answers and no solutions to any of the challenges your organization face.
I would like to express my deep and sincere gratitude and thanks to Mr. Steve Tendon , The Creator of TameFlow and Managing Director of TameFlow Consulting Limited, for reviewing the article and giving feedback and suggestions.
I would like to express my deep and sincere gratitude and thanks to Mr. Daniel Doiron , Author of ‘Tame your flow’- Ultimate Agile/Kanban Book on Financial Throughput for Immediate Exponential Returns and VP of TameFlow Consulting Limited, for reviewing this article from the initial draft stages to this final shape.
Sri Garapati is the founder and Principal of The Agility Mind Inc and an independent freelance consultant and researcher in organizational design, social systems, and its underlying challenges. He has more than 18 years’ experience in IT, healthcare, and the technology industry at various levels, from executive to program/project management. Mr. Garapati’s work has focused on strategic planning, business unit development, IT applications, software product development, and organizational design. His unique skills allow him to take raw ideas/concepts through to product development and fully functioning business units; he has developed four different business units in startup mode. Mr. Garapati also brings to his work various concepts and models from Agile, Lean, TOC, and systems thinking, as well as from the sciences of complexity, psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, human nature, and several others, to help in designing organizations agnostic to models/ frameworks and tailoring these ideas to the organization’s environment. His strengths foster the designing of a learning organization that will evolve through shared understanding, values, principles, and problem-solving tools. Mr. Garapati holds a patent for a software product through Xerox Corporation. He can be reached at email@example.com and www.TheAgilityMind.com and https://tameflow.com/blog/2020-06-08/campfire-talks-10/