Here’s a podcast which Haydn and I recorded with Gary Monti from the Center for Managing Change during the Business Agility Conference in Columbus Ohio last month:
Flow in Business Agility is discussed with Fin Goulding and Haydn Shaughnessy of Flow Academy. The discussion is quite rich since Business Agility is based on key concepts from complex adaptive systems and complexity science and describes a frame of mind used when the rules fall apart or there simply are no rules. The discussion points are as follows:
- Haydn started by stating his work with new technologies and their business applications. This includes disruption. Fin is a technologist having worked with financial institutions and then switched to the dot com world. Together they’ve created a unique perspective on Business Agility.
- This uniqueness is reflected in how they avoid distinguishing between the Business Unit and Information and Technology. They have a strong record in uniting the two into a seamless entity.
- The conversation turned to the need for a high level of trust in order to be effective and get “Action and Traction.” This trust allows for criticism which helps get to the heart of the matter and solve the client’s problem.
- Business Agility allows for providing many small releases maybe on a daily basis faster than waiting for quarterly releases based on a waterfall method. It’s important, though, to have sufficient up-front analysis to make sure what is delivered has value.
- Flow discovers value upfront and makes sure it’s delivered through the entire organization and the traditional blockers are removed.
- Leadership qualities and behaviours are critical — help the team do the work! Be part of the team! Stay focused on the principles involved. This is grounded in putting emotions, mutual respect, and relationships first. This is based on the principle of collective intelligence which says there is too much information and we need to put our heads together to figure out just what is essential.
- A real challenge with Flow is the absence of rules. It’s about harnessing the power fo the team rather than promoting a specific methodology. This harnessing is done by use of visual methods typically using post-its and walls in order to work outside the box. People will engage more with visual approaches over extensive white papers. This includes having emotion walls where “thank you” post-its can be placed.
- Because emergence is such a key part of Flow and Business Agility there is much more flexibility with Post-its and Walls vs constant editing of long papers.
- This helps avoid information overload caused by excessive e-mails, etc. It also keeps people working face-to-face around the Post-Its which supports honest communications and moving the project forward at an optimal speed. Social interaction improves. Emotional honesty drives the work forward.
- Flow Value Optimization Analysis was discussed which simultaneously looks at the flow of a specific process while simultaneously questioning the value of the process and determining if it can be improved or even eliminated.
- Flow helps respond to new market dynamics quickly along with long-tail product dynamics. Additionally, it helps with scaling, lowering prices and doing this with micro-development.
- Flow fits well with a start-up frame of mind…even in a large organization where micro development occurs. This is critical because of the ecosystem of markets and the frequent, small shifts. Flow becomes a guideline for gauging how best to shift behaviours to be effective.