Increasingly when I talk to our enterprise clients, a question invariably arises in the conversation:
“We need customer-focused products and solutions, and we want to improve our time to market. How do we achieve this by leveraging our existing assets, while improving our agility and delivery velocity?”
All these clients have activated initiatives in the areas of cloud migration, Agile and DevOps, and have begun moving to containerized microservices. Most of them hope that after completing these initiatives, they’ll have achieved the answer to the question stated above.
Digging deeper, however, it becomes clear that all these initiatives are what I call “shooting darts in the dark and hoping they hit the target.”
While some enterprises are better than others at focusing their efforts, typically these initiatives are approached in silos, resulting in pressure on the teams on the front lines.
In fact, when I spoke recently to one of our client’s teams, they said they felt they were spending all their time on these new initiatives while still not delivering tangible value. At the start of the year, they were assigned an Agile coach, and then later, a continuous integration tools expert got involved. Now, an architect has come to help make their application architecture cloud-ready. Additionally, they’re undergoing training so they can operate in a full-stack manner with cross-functional skills. The team lamented that their entire backlog seems to be full of such items, and yet their business teams complain about the value that this team was able to deliver.
Achieving Synergy with the Circle of 8
To overcome such problems, and ensure companies like this are throwing the darts in the right direction, I recommend focusing on eight key components that I call the “Circle of 8.” To be effective, organizations need to sync their initiatives across all eight dimensions.
This doesn’t mean boiling the ocean by covering all of these aspects at once but, instead, ensuring that while you’re undergoing the move to a more agile way of doing business that you’ve addressed these areas under the same common goal.
Circle of 8 in Action
For example, we helped an enterprise client achieve agility using a three-wave approach. When we first began the program, the client had already embarked on some of the initiatives. We worked with the company’s executive and leadership teams to review the existing initiatives and introduced the Circle of 8 approach to drive synergies and embark on new ones in a holistic manner.
During Wave 1, we focused intently on the practices, people alignment and collaboration areas. Initiatives across other areas were also looked at but with less focus. During Wave 2, we tackled the business demand, engineering, tools and infrastructure categories. For Wave 3, it was all about vendor management, organization-wide structural changes and a focus on KPIs.
Using this approach, we were able to address the dependencies that existed across the initiatives, while reducing stress on the transformation teams and the teams on the ground. It also helped the leadership teams obtain better visibility across these initiatives, which led to fulfilling the promises made to the business of improving time to market from months to days.
Based on your own organization’s agility goals, you can tailor your approach based on the Circle of 8 components. By doing so, you’ll sustain a better chance of hitting the “agility” target.
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