När vi som agila coacher blir tillfrågade om hur vi jobbar, blir det lätt en berättelse om vad vi gör på dagarna. Då blir det fokus på aktiviteter och metoder, men det är ju inte kärnan av det vi vill uppnå. Sedan pratar vi om det agila mindsetet och dess principer, men det blir inte så begripligt det heller. För hur jobbar vi egentligen? Så nu när vi, Bodil och Cecilia, jobbat tillsammans i nästan ett år så satte vi oss ner för att beskriva hur och varför vi egentligen gör som vi gör. Vi hoppas det kan inspirera er!
Bild 1: Önskat läge
Vårt önskade läge, bild 1, utgår från att lyssnaren ska få den bästa upplevelsen. Syftet med teknik- och utvecklingsverksamheten är att ta fram bästa möjliga produkter för lyssnare och användare. Det är teamen som gör arbetet. Vi vill därför ge varje team de bästa förutsättningarna och sätter dem i centrum. Scrum master och produktägare finns där för att stödja teamen och bevaka deras och produktens gemensamma intressen.
Eftersom det är flera och komplexa produkter i en föränderlig värld räcker det inte med ett team utan det behövs många team som också kommer ha beroenden till varandra. Så långt som möjligt ska de vara självgående och kunna arbeta oberoende av varandra. Oftast behöver vi acceptera vissa beroenden som inte går att komma undan.
Som en bas och stöd, har vi ledningen. Ledningen skapar förutsättningar för teamen så att de kan koncentrera sig på produkterna, dess utveckling och kontakten mot användare.
Ledningen identifierar och tydliggör det långsiktiga perspektivet i form av mål, vision och strategi. Det skapar tydlighet och lugn i prioriteringar och kontinuerliga förändringar som behöver göras. Ledningen ansvarar även för att vi håller oss till lagar och förordningar samt har arbetsgivaransvar och ekonomiska ansvaret. I ett önskat läge är det här frågor som kontinuerligt justeras och kommuniceras för att skapa förutsägbarhet i organisationen och därmed inte påverkar teamens kapacitet nämnvärt.
Det här är optimerat utifrån att teamen skall få de bästa förutsättningarna för att kunna koncentrera sig på att utveckla de bästa produkterna för användarna.
I’m well aware that people often see me as quite a fearless person. I often get comments like “but you are never afraid of anything”. But as all people I have had lots of struggles every day to overcome my own fears, to prove to myself I can do something I thought I couldn’t. And just as probably most people I have tried and failed a lot. One of my mantras I usually say to myself, and others around me is that it will solve itself somehow just as long as we stick to our values and believe in ourself and each other. As Dandy People now has turned 5 years old and we have grown to over 20 people I’m writing this post aiming to tell a bit of the story behind Dandy People and share some of my own personal fears, beliefs and our struggles and successes as a team along the way. None of this will be any silver bullets, but I hope you might find it valuable and perhaps inspiring.
Building a learning organization where fast and shared learning is a key strategy
Curiosity is one of our most important characteristics as humans and we should always find new ways to explore and increase the pace of our own learning. I have always been very curious and loved learning new things just as long as no one is forcing me. My own strategy to learn new things has often been to work together with people with other skill sets to learn from them, and with them, while testing and building stuff together. This has been one of my core beliefs of how to deliver value and a foundation that has shaped how we want to work and run Dandy. In Dandy we always see learning as part of our job. This means we shape our assignments to work two and two as often as possible, or in teams. Many times we have shared a “1 FTE” (yes, our customers sometimes call it that) assignment on two people, and we always look for assignments for a team. The reason for this is both that we have a much bigger success rate on tough assignments by doing that, and also that we get to learn from each other on the job and we will live as we preach..
This belief around learning has also from the start made us prioritize having quite a big financial space for each individual to put time and money on learning new skills outside of work. Everyone is responsible for their own learning but of course we support each other. By doing this and always striving to deliver valuable training and learning sessions for others we make sure we are always at the front line and we will always be learning, making us ready for any new challenge that might occur within Dandy or at our customers.
Starting up my own business – getting over the fear of hiring people
But if we go back to the very beginning, before we started Dandy People, one of the biggest fears I had was to hire people and to be the one responsible for the wellbeing and financial security of other people outside of my own family. This was holding me back for years to move beyond having my own consultancy with only me, myself and I. This was the first obstacle I had to manage and get over when starting Dandy People. Before this I had been running my own company and doing Agile coaching, pretty much the same as we do today in Dandy, but under the umbrella of another consultancy. At that time I had way too much to do and had to say no to helping more and more customers which made me want to find another solution. I felt a huge need to build my own team to help the customers I had and others like them to bridge the gap between business and IT and by that building organizations that could deliver customer centric solutions. I was just getting more and more customers and I really struggled to find the time to help them in a good way as a one woman band. So knowing what I wanted to do in my company wasn’t a struggle at all. Just continuing with what I did, but together with a team of great people. I also knew I wanted to start a_real_company with people who shared my vision, not an umbrella company where everyone follows their own vision, and not just a group of friends who only share the space and occasionally meet and socialize. I often find it just as valuable to know what you don’t want as what you do want, especially when it comes to business.
After looking around for about a year for someone to start my company with, I realized that the people I enjoyed working with all had their own ideas and visions of companies they wanted to start, and none of those was inline with mine. So I would have to go alone… this could easily have been the end of this dream, since I was pretty sure I would never manage it alone. I would work myself to death then. But it happened so that when we came home to Sweden after celebrating Christmas abroad, we got a phone call at the airport that my husband’s company just got sold, meaning he would get out of running a full time business in just a couple of months! This was amazing news both because it meant we as a family would get a small amount of money from his business that we could invest and he would be available to help me with my dream. The choice was easy. He became my business partner. Just a few months after that, in April 2017, we officially started Dandy People and we had an address downtown for our office where we could set up seminars and meetups to meet customers and candidates for employment. After just another few months, after summer we were already a small team of people that could take on customer assignments and collaborate on business development, just as I was longing for. We have never had any problems paying salaries, not even during Covid (but more on that later) and I have never regretted taking on the role as an employer. I am so happy it didn’t stop me from taking the step to grow my business.
Sharing is caring – and it may just be what you need to build a strong brand
You might have seen or used the infographic posters with our logo on. Most of them have my face on them since I am the creator and designer of them. The story started before I started Dandy People and was one of the kicks in the butt I needed to make the decision to start my own company. I created the first Agile in a Nutshell poster just to be able to give something visual that captured the most important things for the class at Hyper Island that I was going to run a half day short training for together with my colleague Per. We had a lot of experience based exercises as always, and was going to do some theory using a whiteboard. But I felt something more was needed to help them remember afterwards, so I decided just the day before to do a one pager with the key topics. After the training I published it as a PDF for download on our blog just if anyone else would be interested in using it. And it happened a LOT of people were interested in that. A few weeks later I was in Paris on a weekend with Mathias and suddenly I realized I had over hundreds of comments on the share of the blogpost on LinkedIn and many friend requests. My first thought was of course that something was wrong with LinkedIn, but it wasn’t. It just exploded due to people really liked the poster. Sharing valuable content for free has been a great business model and so we have continued to do so. When we create new posters we usually set them free on our Dandy blog within days up to 6 months, and also other content such as canvases, coaching models and serious games.
Today I have lost control over how many downloads of the infographic posters we have, and also how many posters we have shared. But a few years ago it was close to 350.000 downloads (totally free with no email signups or nothing). People within the Agile community are translating the posters for free to their language to be able to use them better and we also share those translated posters to everyone, so today we can offer our infographics on Agile topics for free in 15 languages to anyone interested, making the Dandy brand really strong. If you would ask most management consultancies they would probably say this is a no can do for them and any business. I’d say it is exactly the right thing to do if you want to be part of the growing Agile community and if you don’t want to spend huge amounts on useless brand campaigns. Of course it might take some bravery (some would probably call it stupidity), design skills and that you feel fairly safe you know your stuff to make it work. But testing and see how it goes can take you a long way.
Building a company with a strong brand and still minimizing known risks
As I wanted to build a_real_company having an office was important to me and something I wouldn’t negotiate with. Many small business owners already then had their offices at home, but for me it would mean a huge benefit to have a good address downtown in the city to meet with customers and I was sure it would also be easier to attract employees. But we know that statistics say most startups don’t make it due to high costs linked to long contracts, and office space is just exactly that. Meaning getting our own space with a long contract was a big no-no, and that’s why we chose a shared office space instead. We picked one with the best address, a short leasing contract of just one month, where we could have our own room, with good big spaces to run seminars and training, and where we could have our dog 🙂 Those were the key principles and worked out well. We have been able to stay there for 5 years, moving into bigger and more rooms when needed, and now when we have outgrown it, we can easily get our very own space. The move to our very own space is just weeks away now and it feels just like moving out from your parents. We are (almost) grownups finally!
In this blog post, we present a case study using the model designed to leverage the processing strengths and mobilize the brainpower of today’s entire (organizational) collective, which we’re currently calling the Grow/Plow Coaching Model. We have previously published a post on the Grow/Plow model that you can find here if you havent read it.
The Grow/Plow Coaching Model
As you can see on the graphic below, GROW and PLOW naturally overlap at the O and W. PLOW supplements GROW so bottom-up thinking could be integrated into a single coaching model we’re calling the Grow/Plow Coaching Model:
It has been a pleasure working with a company like Unilever, eager to learn and curious to try new things. Of course it has been frustrating and hard sometimes as well, when there have been hindrances in the organisation, and some people have been busy working in their old inefficient way. But change takes time, and being an Agile Coach means you are to hold your client’s hand and help the client to find its own way forward on the path of going Agile.
When we had our first contact with Unilever, most people didn’t have a clue what Agile was, maybe some had some friends working with IT talking about Agile, but that was about it. Now, we hear that people are eager to get on the track of Agile, there is a pull of learning and practising Agile everywhere in the organisation! We got curious about what the main drivers of the Agile journey, the members of team Mountaineers: David Scholander, Jacob Jensen and Emma Lindroos, would say. We asked them some questions.
When starting up a new organization we can design it based on guiding principles to enable more Agility and a learning organization. We then might want to keep it flat, without unwanted hierarchies, perhaps even without managers. We also want to enable people to collaborate when needed without both chaos and silos, enable decisions to be made where the work is done, and empower everyone to engage in the development of the organization as well as growing the business.
This was the case for the tech company Ada Beat. In the search for a way to do that they decided to use the Buddy System as a structured approach to enable Agility and build a Learning Organization, and they asked me to support them with this. Read more about what a Buddy system is at the end of the post.
Case: Buddy System at a Tech Company
We asked our friends at Ada Beat´ to write a small case study on why they wanted to grow a Buddy System.
Imagine a highway so cramped there is no movement and only a few cars get through every hour. What a waste it is for everyone just sitting in their own cars waiting for everything around them to move so they can get through with their own car.
This is what happens when you have a project organization that depends on the same capacity to move forward and is built on individuals pushing their own thing, not allowing anyone to see the big picture.
A project focused organization treats every new idea and requirement as if it was a big project, and it needs to be big to get a budget and a project manager. What if there was another way? Projects get piled on people and when more and more pile up, since the world is moving faster than the pace we can deliver large projects, the system gets jammed.
To change this you need to look at what capacity you have and instead put things that need to be done in prioritized order. It is that simple.
So turn the focus around and look at the people you have, their capacity, knowledge, and experience and build teams that can perform together. And then stack work on the teams.
It is basically making people work on one thing at a time and helping each other out. No rocket science. The rocket science is to build high-performing teams, for that you need a lot of skills in product development, team development, agile leadership, agile management, HR and work environment to mention a few.
Where we started with our client that needed to shift focus was here, 22 projects stacked on around 120 people and the visualization of it looked like this.
In this blog post, I would like to share my overall learnings and 7 key takeaways, from an HR perspective, one of the largest and successful Agile transformations that I have taken part in at the Telecom Company Ericsson. I would love to listen in to your reflections too, so please feel free to share your thoughts, challenges, and experiences in the comments below.
The part of Ericsson where I worked, had a need to improve the quality, drastically shorten the lead time for delivery and increase customer value within the same, or even shrinking, budget. After searching both internally and externally for “best of breed” in terms of product development, we decided to go the Lean & Agile way.
During this period, I was an HR Business Partner for 2 units, each one of them was + 1800 people. This was combined with the role of Lean & Agile HR Driver for the business unit (BU) and People Strategy Driver, which in turn led to the role of HR representative in the BU Lean & Agile change program, basically a project office for the transformation.
Ofta när jag kommer in som agil coach för att stödja i en agil transformation har organisationen så fullt upp med det dagliga arbetet att man knappt mäktar med att tänka förändring. Förhoppningen är att den agila coachen gör förändringen åt organisationen, men om så skulle vara fallet så försvinner ju också förändringen när den agila coachen försvinner. Ett annat sätt att jobba är att göra förändringen i befintliga roller. Under åren som jag jobbade med agila transformationer som anställd, hade jag en chefsroll som plattform för förändringsarbetet. Jag experimenterade med nya former, utmanade mina kollegor, coachade mina team och utbildade både mig själv och organisationerna i det agila förhållningssättet. Samtidigt skedde förändringen.
Några nyckelfaktorer som gjorde att vi lyckades
-Management teamet som tog sig från att jobba med sina egna agendor till gemensam tavla med backlogg, retrospektiv och självorganisering utan avdelningschef. Magin började hända när alla tog in sitt individuella arbeta på den gemensamma tavlan.
-De individuella utvecklingssamtalen, som efter ett antal iterationer skedde gemensamt i teamen med respekt för både teamets uppgift och individens utveckling. Att koppla individens motivation till teamets syfte gjorde att vi kunde hitta kompetensutvecklande arbetssätt i teamen.
-Den individuellt styrda ledningen (performance management) med individuella mål och uppdrag som i stället övergick till mål för teamen, både utvecklingsteam och ledningsteam, och gemensamt ansvar för uppgiften.
-Organisationens gemensamma dag för lärande i varje sprint där alla la tid på lärande och utveckling, antingen genom att lära sig själv eller lära ut till andra. Vi hade som mål att lägga en halv dag varje vecka på lärande vilket gjorde att vi kunde ta oss framåt fortare tillsammans.
Inget av detta var lätt, det krävdes mod av oss som chefer att testa att leda på ett nytt sätt genom att ständigt justera det befintliga systemet, att centrera oss och arbeta med det mellanmänskliga för att växa individer och relationer mellan individer och lära oss att experimentera och värdera lärandet högre än det kortsiktiga resultatet.
Att engagera mig som interimschef innebär alltså att jag tar på mig samma operativa arbetsuppgifter som ordinarie chef skulle ha haft. När jag satt mig in i det dagliga, ser jag snabbt var det skaver och vilka experiment som skulle kunna provas för att ta ett steg i utvecklingen mot en mer agil organisation. Jag är då med och tar ansvar för de möjligheter till lärande experimentet medför och gemensamt tar vi sedan även nästa steg. Så småningom när transformationen har stabiliserats och förändring har blivit en del av den dagliga rytmen är det också dags för mig att kliva av interimstjänsten. När det tillfället blir kommer att visa sig, kanske faller det sig naturligt att ha en chefstjänst mindre då. 🙂
Andreas Nordlund who is an Agile Coach at the payment provider iZettle came by the Dandy office to buy the Cynefin Context Cards to his team. I was curious and asked if he would like to share how he was planning on using the cards.
Mia: How come you want to try the Cynefin Context Cards? Andreas: We are a group of Agile Coaches at iZettle who meet and share learnings and tips. Some of the other coaches have been using the cards and said they were good. I just got back from a training with Dave Snowden in Berlin in how to use the Cynefin Sense-Making Framework and I felt I wanted to try the cards.
Mia: What purpose do you see that the cards will serve? Andreas: We often talk about the work we do as if we are in the complicated domain, but often realize that we are in the complex domain. I want to help my team to put words on that, to facilitate that discussion in a structured way. Support the team to more easily come to the conclusion experiments are needed when they are in the complex domain.
In the IT department of the telecom company 3 of around 200 people, we worked with improvements on team-level and had a forum for improving the whole, but the overall improvements had come to an end after we met our previous change goal. Since we believe in experimentation, we decided to try Objectives and Key Results, OKRs, as a model to set the objectives.
How do you create a change journey that matters? That involves the people in the organization in the why, what and how? That goes beyond the teams for long term agility and continuous improvement? This was something we needed to figure out, and we found a pretty cool way to do it that served us well, perhaps it can inspire you too to try something different.
The use of OKRs started in the ’70s in Intel, in 1999 Google was introduced to OKRs by John Doerr, and it’s still a key in how they run the business.
Before starting the work with the OKRs, we had created a common vision of how it would feel to work with digital services and products at 3 in about 5 years, a description embracing change and innovation, awesome collaboration on all levels, and IT stack that enables business value with short time to market and most important, high customer focus.
Avanza is a tech company with bank licence (you can call them a bank) here in Stockholm. A few years back they started their journey from a traditional silos based organization to a cross functional product organization organized around the customer journey – IT, Product, Marketing and Operations working as one. Here we want to share their own story in the video they recorded at their Avanza Tech Meetup – and as a Case Study.
Since the customer is what drives the value in the organization, we must also organize accordingly. Narrow minded, sub-optimized-silos-days are finally over – future proof organizations with teams that have customer focus and can use their brain power to deliver value – here we come!
To organize around the customer journey has proven to be extremely effective in order to deliver as much value as possible, as fast as possible – and to make the customer as well as the employees feel awesome! In most organization the organization structure itself is what´s causing the most pain – maybe no wonder when you reflect on that the silos based hierarchical organization is over 100 years old! You can download the Agile Leadership poster for more on that topic.
We are starting to see great results from organizations that have embraced this that makes for a strong business case for any organization. We love to be able to finally be able to share this concept with you. Enjoy!
The Over all Structure of the Customer Journey Product Organization
We have captured the over all visualization of how the organization can work hoping to give you a goal picture and a common understanding.
At Dandy People we support teams and organizations to become Agile to be able to focus on the business strategies and to mobilize the brain power in the teams to deliver value continuously. We call these value driven Agile teams for “Lean Teams” since they own the process end 2 end to deliver value, and that they also own the part of the service or product end 2 end. These teams work hypothesis based and have clear missions for 6-12 months with clear KPIs that gives them mandate to decide what to do when and enables them to have a ongoing learning process – all which is needed in a fast paced world if you desire to be the leading product or service within your niche. Crucial for these teams are of course the T-shape of the team members. The T-shape is something that enables the team to work as a team and it creates a really strong teams without dependencies to people within the team – and it also prevents the team to not do mini-waterfall in the team (just doing their part and handing over to the next). You can read more about T-shape here and how to grow it as a leader.
In this post you can download the poster for free and learn more about:
Lean Teams Connected to the Customer Journey with Missions
User research, Planning and Delivery across the Organization – connects as never before
Slicing for Value with User Story Mapping to create Alignment
The different type of teams
Cross-functional competences is needed in the Lean Team
Modern Agile and Continuous improvement of the System
Choosing what type of Organization you want to have Together
Avanza Leads the way with Lean Teams and Customer Journey Organization
Presentation on the Customer Journey Product Organization
Lean Teams Connected to the Customer Journey with Missions
When you are working with such a heartwarming idea as electric cars, you almost don’t need a pitch to be interested in joining it, that at least it goes for me. Deep inside of you, you feel like you are contributing to the greater global purpose. One that generations to come will simply enjoy like we do now with smartphones.
As you can read in the “Roadmap for a fossil fuel-free Stockholm 2050”:
“The City of Stockholm has declared its ambition
to be fossil fuel-free by the year 2050.”*
It feels both inspiring and exciting, knowing that you are seeing the history in the making, one that will inspire other cities worldwide and will make a global difference.
By sharing this story, story about a small scrum team, I’m aiming to inspire those who feel demotivated and lose hope and think their organisations will never join the agile revolution. This team who works in a large organisation, was put together in the same time as both department and the business were going through a reorganisation. The drive, commitment and trust that they put in each others skills helped them to reach their goals and shortly after that build up on their first success. Being cross-functional, with: UX, UI, testing, development, content management and marketing expertise, helped them to define clear path together. The science behind this success is something I’m happy to share with you today.
Last blog I wrote about how we coached and supported the management group to identify next steps in their agile transformation. One of the actions was to change the teams to become Feature teams. Teams who have all needed competences to deliver end customer value. This blog I will describe how I facilitated the Feature team self selection workshop.
Overall agenda for the workshop
Each step of the workshop is described in a few more words under each heading in the blogpost. I described the overall workshop process with a flip chart that you can see below to make the workshop process easy to understand for all participants.
Presentation of Self selection boundaries
Product Owner present example deliveries from the backlog
All prepare their own “avatar” with skills
Collaboration and self selection
Each new team validate towards boundaries
Each team identify concerns with their team setup
Repeat 4-7 until we reach our goal “Good enough for now, Safe enough to try”
Presentation of Self Selection boundaries
We had a few rules to guide them in their self selection and collaboration efforts to identify Feature teams.;
Do what is best for the company
Go for teams that is close to equal in size, experience and competence
We want self managing teams able to deliver on the example backlog items
We want teams who learn how to collaborate and share knowledge to develop as a team over time
This is a story how we used a two day workshop with a management group to help them find out next steps needed in their Agile Transformation.
We knew the client well and had been working with them for some time. It was now time to discuss their progress and potential next steps.
They had Scrum teams up and running, each team with their own product owner. Each team covering one part of their product. Earlier they had discussed and identified their challenges and problems so they where known and a good input to the workshop.
Is your organisation starting to feel out of date, making you slow and ineffective? Do you need to evaluate what type of organisation you should have instead to speed up your development? Then you probably want to continue and read the full article. This post also contains Workshop agenda & Free Templates.
The three amigos of Agile coaches on the set is so much better than one 😀
Thank you Viktor and Stefan!
Many companies and organisations who are working in a complex fast moving domain find themselves growing out of their existing organization and ways of working. These organisations may suffer from problems like long lead times, inability to innovate or quality issues. Feeling left behind when new companies move faster. People in these organizations often find themselves being stressed out, attending too many meetings, communicating to everyone and no one about everything, and often little or even no time to be creative, collaborate with team members and stakeholders or to do the actual work.
To become great product organisations fit for people and enable innovation, short lead times and high quality we apply Agile and Lean thinking and ways of working in order to solve existing problems step by step – also called Agile Change Management. We believe that change has to happen on an individual level, as well as a system level, and it can only be sustainable and successful if it comes from intrinsic motivation.
To enable organizations to improve and reorganize as easy as possible we needed a collaborative way to evaluate the existing organization, what works well and what not, and at the same time learn how it could work instead in the future. We also wanted to build on intrinsic motivation and enable people to make the decisions needed based on actual knowledge. That’s why we created this product organisation evaluation workshop and method. It worked really well and we would love to share it with the Agile community to see if it might could be of use to more people.