BlueKit: Enduring Agile Transformations at all Levels of EnterpriseIn our last blog post we introduced BlueKit, a knowledge platform that allows organizations to harvest, document and disseminate valuable knowledge and know-how. This ‘tribal knowledge’ typically includes best-practices developed by the organization during years of trial-and-error and describes processes, artifacts, ceremonies and metrics that are customized, specific and work well for the organization or department employing them.
This valuable knowledge is also transient. If not harvested, documented and maintained properly it will dissipate as people move in and out of the organization.
In this installment we will highlight two additional Agile Transformation challenges that BlueKit helped us successfully address when working on large scale transformation:
- Relative lack of specific guidance at the Program, Portfolio and Enterprise level and
- The ‘’million dollar question’ – how to ensure the transformation ‘sticks’ long after the last agile coach has left the building.
Transformation at the Program, Portfolio and Enterprise Levels
The market, literature and industry are chock-full of specific and detail guidance, advice, case studies ad best practices on how to implement agile transformation at the team level. Years of experience across multiple industries resulted in clear and concise definitions on roles, ceremonies, artifacts and metrics at that level. Different ideas were evaluated and perfected. A quick search on Google for terms such as ‘Scrum Spring Planning’ and ‘Pair Programming’ yields over a million pages… ironically – as you move up to Program, Portfolio and Enterprise levels, the levels where organization devise and implement business strategies, the levels where competitive advantage is created and maintained, the situation is markedly different. In many ways it is still uncharted territory. SAFe, for example, prescribes some of this from a structural and theoretical perspective, and yet there is no actual definition of anything that is specific enough for the organization to actually implement!
So organizations may be struggling with defining their specific way of doing things and making decisions as they scale. BlueKit helps establish alignment, consistency and repeatability across process and technology to provide best practices at all levels of the organization on:
- Roles: Helping to define roles, responsibilities, authority and areas of authority
- Ceremonies: Establishing cadence for recurring meetings, standardized agendas, attendance and practices
- Tracking & Metrics: Tracking performance of work across status, progress and health against the plan
- Governance Points: Making decisions and actions at every level of the organization or in the domain of authority based on practices, metrics or artifacts.
BlueKit allows to augment existing frameworks, such as SAFe, by customizing the different processes and artifacts to be detailed and prescriptive for the organization to learn and implement. With BlueKit the organization can glean and capture those important insights on what make things work, and work well and at scale.
It provides focus and clarity. As the organization goes through the transformation process, the repository of valuable intellectual property is growing and spreading amongst the ranks of decision makers and practitioners.
Enduring TransformationThe second Law of Thermodynamics states that entropy always increases in the universe. A cup of coffee will always become cooler and will never re-heat by itself. Things become more disorganized. A lot of this applies to Agile Transformations. As time goes by and the initial engagement is over, and the agile coaches move to their next assignment, there’s always a risk of entropy: The risk of not following the new process with the same diligence and care, of reverting back to performing, at least some of the tasks and activities, in the way they were pre-transformation. These almost inevitable behaviors may prevent the organization from reaping the full benefit of the scaled transformations they worked so hard to achieve.
How can the transformation endure and persist? How can we ensure that unforeseen market circumstances, newly introduced business processes, merges and acquisitions or a new disruptive technology will not derail and sink our on-going transformation efforts? – BlueKit. We found that by harvesting and disseminating newly acquired knowledge, the organization can rapidly and successfully adjust to new realities. BlueKit offers a living and breathing knowledge base that when properly maintained, always remains fresh, relevant and helpful. BlueKit remains a ‘trusted advisor’ long after the coaches and consultants are gone. It allows organization to become self-sufficient. To foster a community of practice and a wealth of local expertise that are specific, relevant and up to date.
One thing that is a gap in the market today is that the higher you move above Team level in an organization, there really isn’t any guidance or information on what to do or how to execute. One great thing about Scrum at the team level, was that there are thousands of great articles that talk about the fundamentals of what Scrum delivers at the team level. Most all of them talk about these areas below in order to succeed.
- Roles – Scrummaster, Product Owner, Agile Team Member
- Ceremonies – Sprint Planning, Retrospective…
- Artifacts – Team Backlog (Stories)
- Tracking & Metrics – Burn Down Chart, % complete
- Governance Points – we use story points..
I strongly believe that as an organization scales up, and progresses through some sense of maturity, they will slowly be pushed to define each of these at each level which is what BlueKit does.
- Tracking & Metrics
- Governance Points
- Tracking & Metrics
- Governance Points
I would even argue that as organizations use BlueKit to augment their journey, these areas become defined as a result of Bluekit and there are easier ways to build a community of practice, people that are responsible for this standardization/normalization effort and adding, onboarding and ramping up teams to keep up the progress becomes easier, faster, etc.. Think Agile PMO of the future..