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Are You Competing at Cloud Speed?

competing-at-cloud-speedWe live in an era of constant, accelerating change, and the only organizations that are equipped to keep pace are those that are capable of competing at cloud speed. Does trading out packaged software installed on your own servers for the cloud based versions offered by your vendor accelerate your organization to cloud speed?

Sorry, no.

So what the heck is cloud speed anyways?

Competing at cloud speed is a goal that every organization should have, and it requires learning fast not failing fast, it involves creating the flexibility to adapt to trends that spread globally faster than ever before, to respond to competition from unexpected sources, and provides a potential antidote to decreasing corporate lifespans.

Accelerating to cloud speed requires your organization to operate under a series of principles that make it both FAST and agile.

Going FAST (the Right Way)

In the experience of Gordon Tredgold, creator of the FAST Approach to Leadership, we usually end up doing either the wrong job or a poor job in an organization because of a lack of focus or accountability, as a result of work has that’s been made overly complex, or because transparency doesn’t exist across the organization.

The FAST Approach to Leadership attempts to address these concerns by answering the What, Who, How and How Far questions related to the task, service or project that is to be delivered (or goal to be achieved). The following four areas make up the letters of the FAST Approach to Leadership and its FAST acronym:

  1. FOCUS is about the WHAT, what we’re doing, what is our objective, and what does success look like.
  2. ACCOUNTABILITY is about the WHO, who is going to do the work, who will be accountable and how will we hold them accountable.
  3. SIMPLICITY is about the HOW, what is the solution, how are we planning to deliver success. Is our solution simple or have we over complicated it.
  4. TRANSPARENCY is about How Far, How Far we have come and How Far we have to go in order to be successful, it’s also about our honesty about our progress and capability.

Focus and Accountability help to ensure that we are getting the right job done, increasing our effectiveness.

Simplicity and Transparency help to ensure that we do a good job.

The objective of FAST Leadership is to ensure that we do the right job, well, each and every time.

Becoming Agile

According to a recent Forrester report titled Business Agility Starts With Your People, a digital business requires an organization to be able to both sense and execute on change, and Craig Le Clair of Forrester outlined a set of ten dimensions that define the digital business, grouped by market, organization and process:

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Agile Change is Coming Soon

Agile Change is Coming

How fast is your organization capable of changing to continue to remain relevant and successful in the marketplace?

The world is changing at an accelerating pace as new technologies are discovered, developed, released and adopted by consumers faster than ever before. At the same time companies are rising to global scale faster and large, successful companies are disappearing faster too.

In this new reality that we all face, organizations of all types are going to need to:

  • Change how they change
  • Increase their organizational agility
  • Increase the flexibility of the organization
  • Become capable of continuous change
  • Inhibit the appearance and/or growth of change gaps that can doom your company

It is because of this tidal wave of change and a recognition that there is a need in the marketplace for more human change processes and tools that make change seem less overwhelming, that my next book for Palgrave Macmillan will focus on the best practices and next practices of organizational change (aka change management), and I’ve developed a new collaborative, visual change planning toolkit to go with it (but more about that later).

One way to do all of the items in the bulleted list above is to take more of an agile approach to change, to adopt some of the values and principles of the Agile Software Development methodology and use those to create a set of what could be described as Agile behaviors within the organization. If you are not familiar with the Agile Software Development methodology, I have included below the Agile Software Development Manifesto from http://agilemanifesto.org that details the values and principles of Agile Software Development. As you read through the manifesto I hope you’ll see that the values and principles can easily be applied to other endeavors outside of software development, whether that might in the project management discipline of your organization, or within your larger change initiatives.

Manifesto for Agile Software Development

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.

Through this work we have come to value:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items in bold more.

Principles behind the Agile Manifesto

We follow these principles:

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  10. Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

Agile and Constant Change

FIGURE 1You will see in FIGURE 1 that constant change sits at the center, Agile Values providing the initial direction for an organization with a committed goal of becoming more agile. Radiating out from Agile Values as we pursue success in coping with constant change will be our Agile Principles. But, ultimately we can’t live our values or follow our principles if we don’t exhibit behaviors that personify those values and principles. Unless our organizations begin to behave in a more agile way then the potential of truly becoming more agile will remain just words, and go largely unfulfilled.

It is because of the challenge of behaving in a new way that I encourage all of your to make a move towards a formal pursuit of organizational agility. To help you in this pursuit, I will soon be releasing my brand new collaborative, visual change planning toolkit for companies to use on their own (with free training for a select few who agree to use it and document their experience for the book). In addition I will be launching separate training for consultants so they can use the tools with clients in their change management and project management practices. Please register your interest here.

Using this new set of change planning and execution tools and processes will not only make change seem less overwhelming, but it will also help you build alignment behind your effort, help you work through as a group how to LITERALLY all get on the same page for change, and create a more agile organization as adoption of the tools spreads.

Stay tuned for more great change content coming soon!