Several years have passed since Gartner proposed for the first time to integrate Design Thinking to define customers’ problems with Lean Start-Up and Agile to deliver them not only customized but also efficient solutions as well. The evolution of this framework led to Lean Thinking and then to realize that by adopting this customer centric and efficient approach, Agile can be scaled to manage large projects with teams that are not co-located. Moreover, once this degree of escalation can be achieved to manage global projects, it can be applied to attain the same level of effectiveness and efficiency in managing organizations. Therefore, at the heart of the Lean-Agile mindset it is not only the power to scale Agile but also to bring organization Agility by becoming customer centric and adopting a motivational leadership style with a profound respect for people. However, mindset needs to turn into behaviours through stable processes able to provide an operational framework which ensures people’s effective collaboration and timely coordination within the BAU. Furthermore, the operational model should not only empower people to solve problems on daily basis to avoid they become part of the BAU, but also to encourage them to strive for perfection to drive continuous improvement at an organizational level wade beyond just problem solving.
Effective collaboration and timely coordination
First and foremost, it is important to remind that effective collaboration between people is the bottom-line to achieve organizational effectiveness. To begin with, collaboration within teams is key to ensure project deliverables or process outcomes meet customer’s expectations. Whether in an Agile framework with daily meetings through Jira or within Lean shopfloor or office with huddle meetings and whiteboards, the reduction of management cycle ensures frequent communication. Moreover, to meet more often has less meeting time as an outcome, however communication effectiveness and efficiency don’t rely only on Lean-Agile’s design but also in its execution. Furthermore, only a good quality of communication between teammates and the leader will ensure effectiveness in their interactions. What is more, it is this model of effective communication and collaboration what is escalated between project teams or organizational processes to achieve timely coordination to ensure an E2E delivery performance. Of course, people and communications are supported by technology, but effective collaboration and timely coordination will rely on people. Therefore, respectful and meaningful interactions within and between teams as well as with leaders and among the latter across workstreams and valuestreams are the foundations of organizational effectiveness.
Empowering people to daily problem solving
Another point to consider is that daily issues need to be distinguished from BAU and never become part of the latter. Once issues are identified as problems and not as part of daily jobs and routines, each team must assume accountability as the first step to solve the issue since as it is usually said in Coaching: “If you are not part of the problem, you won’t be part of the solution”. Therefore, organizations must empower people by not only providing efficient and effective ways to deal with daily issues but also by allocating time to solve problems for good. Besides developing problem solving capabilities and assigning time to people, it is essential to create transparency in performance, workload and capacity to develop the right environment not only to drive effective problem solving but also individual and organizational learning as well. As Jack Welch pointed out many years ago: “An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.” Moreover, the knowledge to solve most of organization’s issues is inside of its people, therefore the continuous improvement process’ fundamental role is ensuring the translation of implicit into explicit knowledge and effective actions by empowering the people.
Striving for perfection at an organizational level
On one hand, continuous improvement is driven by solving problem since as Plato mentioned within The Republic: “Necessity is the mother of invention. A need or problem encourages creative efforts to meet the need or solve the problem”. On the other hand, organizations must strive for perfection because, although it is not attainable, it is a powerful driver not only for continuous improvement but also for people’s engagement. Moreover, curiosity is part of human nature and if organizations nurture people’s curiosity, they will not only ensure to keep them engage in what they are doing but also drive innovation which is the other way of sourcing continuous improvement and organizational learning. As it was the case with problem solving, innovation takes time and people should be empowered to innovate not only by developing appropriate skills but also encouraging them to take risks and avoid following always the same path. Furthermore, people should be recognized and rewarded not only for innovation’s outcomes but also for trying to things in a different way, for thinking and acting “out of the box”. As a conclusion, is by ensuring effective collaboration and timely coordination, as well as empowering people to daily problem solving, and striving for perfection at an organizational level by nurturing people’s curiosity and encourage them to innovate, that the organization will find the right balance between stability to ensure business results and flexibility to adapt to a VUCA world, since it is the organic architecture which provides the organization its resilience and sustainability.
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