September 14, 2017

Value by Transformation

BY :     September 14, 2017

In my last blog, I wrote about the increasing lack of creativity that some people develop rapidly and the increase of the actual “need to know” by most companies.
Can not remember anymore? Please read my previous blog and you are good to go for this one 😉

Transformation is all around us and the increasing need to transform or at least adapt to the brave new world out there is on the c-level agenda in roughly 70% of the companies in the Netherlands.

With my mentor and trusted colleague Ben Visser we shaped the “value by design” concept more than a year ago. This theme is a great fibula or umbrella if you will, for our ideas, brainstorms and of course our blogs. Since all my blogs are under the “value by design umbrella” I would like to share my thoughts and ideas about the value in transformation and the many challenges and opportunities that come across.

For the past few weeks, I have been working on a model that I believe catches the very basics of how to start something new: in this case a transformation in a company and how to initiate it. The model starts with the why which basically covers the must, want and can issues that under scribe the why (for more information please find this website with the must, will, can model that is developed and leading the business line technology transformation that I work for within Sogeti Netherlands)  From there the key features in making the transformation a success are shown. The arrow indicates that after the transformation is a success, start with the why again in the newly transformed situation.

Let’s assume that the company has already taken steps towards a more agile environment, the transparency is covered by the bottom-up principle(s) of lean and the communication is covered through the agile manifesto (individuals and interactions over processes and tools).
A scrum board or KanBan can give the insight. The early feedback loops from lean and/or DevOps gives a sense of individual input, direct influence if you will, which should really help to build support. Some assumptions, I know, but let’s tune in on our transformation television at the point of getting engaged.

From here it gets interesting because engagement is what we want! That is why in this blog I primarily focus on engagement.
People adapting and making it “a part of themselves” in a way: the new way of working and doing. From here on out trouble will likely arise (if not earlier), for the actual change is irreversible coming and here to stay (unstoppable force anyone)
If people are not engaged they will start to sabotage the transformation and try to stall the changes that are at hand. In my “staying a true mud master” blog, I talked about actually having to get your hands dirty to get it done. Can you? Can you “descent to the engineer level” and grasp the many challenges that a transformation brings on a system or single application level? And can you not only hear but actually listen to the bottom-up feedback from “us boys and girls”?
Individuals and interaction, remember?

Management needs to be engaged and set some kind of boundary of course. However, make sure that when doing so the decision is based on bottom-up early feedback loops and that everybody is heard.

Engagement is pivotal because as many (IT) companies tell us in their marketing slogans it is the employees, WE, that make the difference right? That’s an another subject, I will blog about that some other time!

So do not take 10 minutes next time, take the afternoon off and invite Jack (a function manager of application/system x for the past 20 years) and hear him out. Get to know him and make his struggle your struggle. Yes, this might seem like hard work, but who said you could just swim your way through the mud, it might need some plowing and puddling as well.

When we, the engineers are not engaged because of lack of understanding, trust or sense of urgency we will moderately support the idea (if at all) and will most likely not be engaged. From a scrum point of view there will be no ‘ba’ in the teams and that, among other things, is a pity.
Now you know what pitfalls to avoid, but how can you get lasting engagement?
This is what I would do for starters, make sure that everybody is heard. The key is to focus on the chance skeptics “non-believers” because the believers are on board anyway. Moreover, make sure that the believers have room to share their beliefs and time and support to share them with their peers.
Do not inform everybody in a mass “to all” email. it down with individuals and make them heard, let them voice their concerns and go from there. Do not threaten them with the consequences if they do not engage, voice your own concern for the company (the greater good if you will) when not everybody is on board, the whole team thinking right!?

Actually, the value is in getting people engaged, make sure they are willing to move mountains because they believe in the need to transform and support the (general) cause. Since time is one of the most valuable things to give to any individual, make sure you give a lot of it to everybody, yes, everybody. The value in (time), value out (support, engagement, belief).
You cannot acquire value without spending some yourself and time is the key (as Shakespeare puts it) and who are we not to agree with him.
Closing off I would like to compare a transformation to marriage: An engagement often leads to marriage, an even bigger commitment. So make sure everybody is engaged and start party planning together. Bottom-up, holistic and loads of early feedback loops so everybody gets their personal, proper invite.

Final tip: make sure the venue is big enough because they will rally in herds when a few basic rules of engagement are followed properly.

Success guaranteed!

Hans Lantink

About

Hans started his IT career at Sogeti Netherlands. He grew consistently from junior test engineer to his current role of senior test consultant. Hans has a passion to share his knowledge with colleagues and therefore he is a regular teacher of Agile, Scrum, DevOps and various communication trainings within the Sogeti Academy. Within Sogeti Hans developed several different training courses and with the upcoming of the Agile movement Hans has specialized in the “human side” of Agile and working in Scrum or DevOps teams. With his new and sometimes provoking ideas and insights he inspires colleagues and challenges them to form their own opinion.

More on Hans Lantink.

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    *Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Sogeti Group