CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT in the realm of IT TECHNOLOGY
“A Fool with a Tool is still a Fool”
Technology is awesome. Great things are possible with technology. The introduction of real-time analytics, machine learning, secure communication, continuous deployment have had a big impact on our (corporate) IT lives.
You start small with small steps done by one or two experts and then slowly improve to automated deployment to production. During this improvement journey, you bring along your stakeholders and organization around you. This journey is a road of slowly changing existing activities (for example, sign-off of the security officer) to automated steps to make optimal use of the introduced CI technology. Before you know it, you are two years along with your journey.
The journey of implementing Continuous Deployment in your organization is the same for technologies such as Machine Learning, Behaviour Driven Development, Robotic Process Automation, etc. For all the technologies it takes time to become an expert and change your work and that of your colleagues to optimally use these technologies.
I think that the underlying pattern of continuous improvement is part of the road to success for a team, organization or enterprise.
IMPROVEMENT IN AN AGILE ORGANIZATION
First learn what you don’t know, then grow.
When you want to improve in sports or technology you need to know what you need to change. You need to “evolve” from what you don’t know what to change, to what you know to change.
I might think that I walk in a straight line, but just when someone tells me I walk in curved line and convinces me of this, by for example showing me a video of me walking, then I know that I walk in a curved line. Turns out walking in a straight line is difficult.
At the moment of watching the video of myself walking’ I transcended from “Unconscious incompetent” to “Conscious incompetent”. I change my perception of what I assumed I was competent in and became conscious of me being incompetence. I needed to open up for the possibility that I was incompetence to improve my competence. Since this concerns the change of my perception, i need feedback from somebody or something else than myself to improve. When I played American Football I received non-stop feedback from the coach so I could improve.
This four stages of competence together form the Cycle of Competence
The cycle of competence also implies when applying continuous improvement to your team or organization. There is the need for somebody to provide feedback to another individual on his/her competence so that growth can be achieved.
In parenting, this is done by the parent.
In education, this is done by a teacher.
In sports, this is done by a coach or trainer.
In business teams, this is done by a boss or leader.
In self-organizing teams, this is done by the team as a whole.
In a self-organizing enterprise, this is done by who?
Agile implies autonomous teams.
When you have autonomous teams which are the result of an agile organisation, there are certain challenges. In my previous blog, I made the case that “Game Theory” should be part of the toolkit of an Enterprise Architect to be able to guide teams in a certain direction. I think that coaching & educational capabilities are needed in agile organizations as a substitute for hierarchy and strict enforcement of governance but not the default operating mechanism anymore.
Types of coaches – drill sergeant vs system optimizer
There are different styles of coaching. The style of the drill sergeant or trainer that focuses on repetition to become a perfect soldier or player is not what would work in my opinion. I think that the coaching skills that resemble the style of Louis van Gaal and Simon Sinek will be the successful styles in organizations that focus their strategy on autonomous teams and persons.
Van Gaal is a very successful soccer coach and manager that focuses on each person as individual operating in the system of the team.
Simon Sinek is focussing on the drivers of the individual person and proclaims that the primary drivers of people and organisations need to be addressed to achieve happiness and success. His video on the golden circle and the power of why are really inspiring.
These two styles align with the autonomous teams vision driven by Agile, the daniel pink vision on what drives us and educational theories like the educational onion-model by Fred A. J. Korthagen , Angelo Vasalos (2005).
Watch this space to learn the role of an Enterprise Architect as an Enterprise Coach