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“Don’t move water that isn’t moving you” - Wisdom from my 15 year old Daughter on Rowing

I was returning from a rowing session with my daughter the other day, she rows for Marlow Rowing Club, and we were talking about the boat’s performance on the Thames during this recent session. She piped up “Daddy, I don’t understand why rowers don’t get the principle of ‘Don’t move water that isn’t moving you’”.

I thought this was a remarkable insight for a 15 year old especially when I started thinking about my work. Fundamentally she was talking about effort expended and whether the team is rowing together in the boat. This generates frustrations when the team ‘is not a team’ in the boat and the coach, who is a key part of the team not in the boat.  And is not being listened to. Rowing, as Tim Foster Sydney Olympic Gold Medalist put it, is simple “… effort not in the horizontal plane is wasted effort”. So if you are not working as a team to ensure all the physical transfer of energy is put into the same horizontal water plane then you are moving water that isn’t moving you. Simples!!

How does this relate to business?  Well it is around understanding the role of the team and the continual communication of the objective and how it is going to be achieved.  To create the value. As Tim also went on to say in ‘Rowing Faster’ edited by Volker Nolte, “The psychology and team dynamics have to bring out the best of all elements within the crew. It is important that every member feels able to contribute not just physically but also mentally.” He then also goes on to discuss the importance of coaching and analysis to support the prioritization of improvement.

There are many principles of agile that could be aligned here and this is the one I have chosen “Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.”

 If the vertical slice of feature teams is not enacted, and aligned with the business value objective, then wasted effort will occur and you will start to focus on the ‘what’ and be in danger of losing focus on the ‘why’ or purpose and value of the work. In other words without end to end feature teams dynamically interacting with the business you will end up with waste – “don’t move water that isn’t moving you” – thanks Katarina, you’re a star!

Michael Short

Radtac COO

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Method Utopia – Evolution over Revolution

Radtac has a broad church approach on agile and methods which is built on cultural understanding of the client need. We believe at a time of change the need is to provide the clients with straight forward simple messages and support those that are achievable. This has the added advantage of showing as early as possible what #goodlookslike. It’s not about what’s perfect, if such a thing exists, it is what’s right for now to effect change, where your team and company and its #culture are able to go.

After many years of delivering enterprise agile we are now providing the SAFe agile exam and SAFe Consultants. #Radtacltd has been doing scaled enterprise agile programmes from the company’s very inception, which is now 16 years, and we worked extensively on the global #nokia roll out with #deanleffingwell in the mid noughties. So #Enterpriseagile is in our DNA. #Radtacltd also provide 30% of the UK’s Scrum Alliance training, a large part of the UK’s APMG and Kanban training as well as providing courses in lean start-up, and last but not least we wrote and provided the #BCS with their #agile Foundation Certificate. We are truly method agnostic and focus on what is #rightfortheclient. So having a broad church means that we enter client discussions with an open mind, we feel that this is critical to producing wins for our customers.

We know our onions, and there are many varieties, we know most (all) of them. Our pragmatic approach to Consulting, Cultural Change, Delivery and then the Training, is what Radtac is known for and also goes to the heart of one of our values “Evolution over Revolution”. We don’t seek to sell a panacea, we aim to support clients to move to more effective and efficient working with a toolbox of approaches. Encourage the use of the right tool for the job in hand, not ’the tool’ that you predetermined was needed before client interaction i.e. If the only tool is a hammer, every job is a nail.

Clients may become concerned if they hear lots of different strong opinions on one approach over another. Change is a disturbing and lonely place. People need to be shown that the courage they have used to make change happen will be rewarded and that they trust that the approaches you are going to use best suit them. They need to have the fear removed and not increased. They need to have confidence in your approach being led by you thinking about them and their problems first.

Clients are in business to make money / be more efficient. They are not concerned so much as to which ‘method’ they use, they care that it can be introduced simply, economically and most importantly it produces lasting results of improvement and produces #ROI. How many CEOs, CFOs, CMOs do we hear eulogising on any agile method. Sometimes but no where near the number whose companies have used agile approaches. Does that send a message about what the client thinks? We believe that it does, and it isn’t about methods, it’s about – did we achieve a lasting goal fulfilment around our purpose that delighted our consumers and gave them more than they expected.

What does this mean in practice.

  • We go into prospective and existing clients and work with them on where they are today and then seek to offer them a number of methods, approaches, analysis tools, organisational development, training and special delivery catalysts to help them to get from where they are to where they want to be. Then we help them chose based on that informed debate.
  • We position this all the time as an evolution. That is taking the innate ability of the organisation to inspect, adapt and to change, freeing people to achieve their potential, removing the constraints
  • We work closely with the client to understand what is their next “achievable” step, not what is the “#MethodUtopia“ we can sell you to adopt
  • Being a successful business (our turnover went up 100% during a recession year) is about doing what’s right, success and profitability flow from that because clients see and feel the value

So doing things right is fine but doing the right things is what #Radtacltd focus on, and for clients there is no “one size fits all”. So Radtac will be listening to the client, asking them to tell us #why they want to change and then opening the #agiletoolbox and sharing approaches, using our skills and knowledge to select tools that could fit with that client’s #culture, innate abilities and need.

We add to that organisation development to ensure cultural change – and I have blogged on that before, here are some references

Michael Short

Radtac COO

You may also be interested in a blog written by Darren Wilmshurst One Size Does Not Fit All 

SAFe Program Checklist

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is a template for scaling agile principles and tools to large organisations. View a brief SAFe Overview Here

Radtac was involved in one of the early scaled enterprises at Nokia Symbian covering 1500 technical staff across 150 teams in 3 continents.

We continue to implement agile at scale in many organisations and through our work with clients we have developed a resource that  we have found useful.

The Program Level is the heart of SAFe and whilst many organisations will be familiar with implementing agile at a Team Level, the same cannot be said at the Program Level even though it is built of exactly the same elements of the Team Level, just scaled up!

To help we have created a Program Level Checklist – thanks to Chris Berridge.

It is a subjective summary of the key points at the Program Level to help create alignment about where your organisation is in terms of SAFe adoption and to guide next steps.

Do you need to tick all the boxes – absolutely NOT. As with all adoptions it needs to be context sensitive; adopt the bits that make sense and add value in your situation! Remember the Framework is only a Framework i.e. a ‘basic structure underlying a system or concept’. Despite the various opinions that have been posted it is not a prescriptive ‘do this, do that’; as such you can either implement with your brain switched on OR brain switched off. I would suggest the former!

Please let me have feedback with any suggestions for improvement

Hope it helps.

Darren Wilmshurst

Head of Consultancy and SAFe Program Consultant

Visit the Radtac Website for further information on our upcoming SAFe Courses

Organisation Structure for Effective Innovation

The organization must develop effective leadership. Leadership that always does what it always did will not produce an advancing and innovating business; it will always be more of the same.

Once the Vision  behind the ‘Change Wave’ is communicated what does this mean in terms of:

  • structure for change
  • how does the leadership of the organisation develop risk taking
  • how do we develop effective innovation.

The Vertical Slice

Why a slice, and why vertical?

Effective change starts from good leadership. Direction and support must run through the organization. It is not however about ‘restructuring’. This big myth has been well exposed for what it is - moving the deckchairs on the Titanic while it sinks.

By slice I mean just that, top to bottom, and it needs to be as thin as enables an effective start. The purpose of the change should have senior sponsorship and the ‘owner’ of the change should be, or report to, the CEO. The senior owner must have this as part of their Key Performance Indicators (KPI), and if not the CEO then the CEO must have a direct and tangible link to the change KPI.

Vertical Slice and Horizontal Stripe

  • Leadership creates a top to bottom small evolutionary programme of change, ‘a vertical slice’, this is led from the top reporting to the Senior Team
  • At each layer in the organisation a smallteam is tasked to deliver the innovation
  • Where a full team is required in the layer (certainly layer 3) then they form a horizontal ‘Stripe’
  • Creates an organisation with self motivated, autonomous, highly skilled ‘T Shaped’ people (see later section of this document)

Diagram 5: The Radtac Change Wave with Horizontal Striping

This project must then have a direct line of sight to the team enabling the programme at layer 3 and only those people with direct responsibility (clear KPI) should have any control over the programme and the people. Interference should not be tolerated but the team within the vertical slice should be seeking ideas and opinion from others, the team not doing this is not usually a good sign either. However the responsibility for success rests purely with the vertical slice team.

All transformation needs to be funded to a business value that is measurable and clearly linked to a ‘why’ from the business Vision. Funding is a key part of transformation and also a key part to why you start with a ‘thin slice’ mode. This allows protection of Business As Usual (BAU) while developing new effective ways of delivering.

This paper focuses on transformation for Effectiveness, it is also true that within a business you need to deliver efficiency gains. Business As Usual will benefit from applying better management and methods to delivery. It is important to draw a distinction between returns that will result from making you more efficient versus those that will make you more effective. Running a successful business is always a blend of both.

The reason for the leadership is because this slice is doing the really hard yards, they are not just doing what you have always done but are thinking and often behaving differently to produce improvements in outcomes measureable in multiples of effective improvement not in small percentage gains.

The other reason for needing the Leadership support is so that failure, it will happen when doing new things, has Senior Executive tolerance and understanding as to where the evolutionary journey is going. Failure needs to be understood in context and not ‘a surprise’.

‘T’ Shaped People  - the horizontal stripe

Some of the thinking behind Radtac’s approach draws from Peter Senge[1], Patrick Lencioni[2] and Daniel Pink[3] amongst others. What experts are able to do is draw all on all the most appropriate approaches for a situation rather than ‘mandate’ or ‘template’ a solution that was preconceived. The reality of implementation is that these approaches need to be supported with a toolbox.

‘T’ shaped people have specialized knowledge / skills combined with generalised skills. The generalised skills are required so that they can interact and communicate effectively with their colleagues. If people are only specialized they find working in multi-disciplinary teams that deliver across a business value chain in short time to market and fast cycle times challenging.

Such multi-disciplinary teams are essential for creating a business that has the ability to deliver features that customers want in the shortest feasible time with the most effective cycle times. The ability to deliver value to customers in short time to market and excellent cycle times is at the core of Agile, Lean and Kanban thinking and the frameworks that deliver them (eg. Scrum).

Radtac combine these frameworks together and enable them to create businesses that are at their heart evolutionary and have the ability to react to the changing business environment quickly. RADTAC’s approach has evolved those tools so they can be implemented in nearly all situations, tools cannot be applied as rote panaceas, they need to be a part of an assessment that introduces the right approaches in small steps that arre ‘time and culture’ appropriate.

Employees need to be developed as ‘T’ shaped people in the modern evolving company. This change to the employee profile is probably most aptly summarized by the loss of a ‘job for life’. This has happened because the thought of doing the same skill for a 50 year working career just doesn’t work anymore. Therefore we must have a flexible and learning workforce that achieve motivation and personal goals through their ever changing roles and ways of working. This can only be achieved through constant and valued learning.

The way to achieve ‘T shaped’ people is to put them in teams that have the ability to deliver across the value chain and that have ownership of problem solving and delivery of services. It is a structure that both supports efficiency and innovation. It allows people to generate both specialist knowledge and achieve a broader understanding of the other skills required to complete a piece of work and it also enables fast time to market and effective cycle time

The ‘T Shaped’ approach is valued because all companies now depend upon re-skilling and ensuring that their employees are learning, particularly in the area of Information Technology and its business applications. Therefore improving IT and making IT more effective with innovative solutions is what drives goods and services delivery, with quality, to clients. Marc Andreessen is oft quoted ‘software is eating the world’[4], so if we want to innovate and become more effective we had better make sure that software is core to the strategic and tactical implementation of our business. It is therefore essential that ‘how’ we deliver change be aligned with best software practices, because software has an important role in the ‘what’ that will deliver the vision.

About Radtac

Radtac Ltd has been established for over 15 years and has delivered programmes for clients such as British Airways, Nokia, Rolls Royce, Hiscox, William Hill.

 Radtac’s vision and values are ……..

Vision :

Radtac believe in challenging the status quo and in the innate ability of people to rise to the challenges of their organisation.

 Values :

Radtac do this by helping our clients achieve sustainable continuous improvement and by unlocking their human potential using our great people and unparalleled practical industry experience.

By doing this we have come to value….

  • Evolution over revolution
  • Collaborative partnerships over supplier relationships
  • Pragmatic transformation over fundamentalist dogma
  • Transformational leadership over transactional management
  • Realising innate potential over hiring new staff
  • Simplicity over complexity

 Michael Short

Radtac COO


[1] Peter M Senge (1990), The Fifth Discipline

[2] Patrick Lencioni (2002) The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

[3] Daniel H. Pink (2011) Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us  

Evolutionary Change over Revolutionary Chaos Part III

Transformation through Evolution – A Pathway to Success

Evolution is defined by the OED as “the gradual development of something”. This is the approach that is outlined in the diagram below and is the approach that Radtac use when addressing transformations.

Evolutionary Change: The Epigenetics of Organisation Transformation

This approach allows the development of what ‘good looks like’ and also allows the adaption and environment to have influence over change as it proceeds.

Cultural evolution needs to be supported with a framework and implementation approach. An approach that can be used is called ‘vertical slicing’ with ‘horizontal striping’. This has the advantage of being simple to understand, immediately visual and straightforward to implement.

This model has been proven to work across multiple geographies of significant cultural diversity as well as diverse industries and public bodies.

It is predicated on the understanding and use of the Radtac Change Wave. Radtac uses the term Change Wave and the simple graphic to give a clear and unambiguous communication, again emphasizing the visual and simple. Most senior teams find the use of simple graphics to both capture their views, as well as present them to others, a powerful communication tool that is difficult to distort. This is based on the whole process that people understand what they can draw and articulate simply, and is not easily open to verbal misinterpretation. 

The Shallow Wave

  • Individual teams adopt their way of working
  • This way of working fits within existing structures and processes
  • Not a sustainable change outside of the team, when members depart the way of working is likely to collapse
  • Has little Enterprise benefit, in fact is unlikely to deliver any benefit as it sits in isolation surrounded by Constraints

The ‘Tsunami’ or Breaking Wave

  • Senior team on Board, ‘flavour’ of the month
  • It is a managed and ‘driven’ or 100% ‘pushed’ adoption.
  • Small project teams at layer 3 embrace ideas
  • Layer 2, ‘The Frozen Middle’ not engaged, wave crests, breaks and collapses, senior team ‘walk away’
  • Layer 2 beat up layer 3 for being so ‘stupid’ – don’t do it again

The Sustainable Wave

  • Change in all layers as a ‘vertical slice’ through the organisation
  • The change is ‘Led’ through ‘walking the talk’
  • Company starts small and acts fast to expand
  • Scalable growth by expanding horizontal stripe width ways
  • Pull’ demonstrates what good looks like

The Radtac Change Wave

The uses of simple tools to both put previous failure in context and understand the route to success is essential for buy-in through the organization, starting at the executive. The key to a good transformation in any organization is an effective communication plan; diagrams and pictures are excellent mediums for explaining complex issues.

And a good communication plan is key to success. For people to be led they need to understand ‘why’ they are doing something, then ‘how’ that is going to be achieved and finally ‘what’ needs to be done to make the ‘how’ happen. We have adopted this approach in Radtac’s Information technology Transformation Approach (RITA)[1], others such as Simon Sinek refers to this simple order as the ‘Golden Circles’[2].

The use of the Why, How and What, follows the logic of the evolution of our limbic brain (biology in successful change). This “inside to out” approach is what makes messages appealing and is more readily understood by both internal, third party and customer audiences.

Organisation Structure for Effective Innovation

The organization must develop effective leadership. Leadership that always does what it always did will not produce an advancing and innovating business; it will always be more of the same.

Once our  concept  behind the ‘Change Wave’ is communicated what does this mean in terms of structure for change. How does the leadership of the organisation develop risk taking and effective innovation.

About Radtac

Radtac Ltd has been established for over 15 years and has delivered programmes for clients such as British Airways, Nokia, Rolls Royce, Hiscox, William Hill.

Radtac’s vision and values are ……..

Vision :

Radtac believe in challenging the status quo and in the innate ability of people to rise to the challenges of their organisation.

Values :

Radtac do this by helping our clients achieve sustainable continuous improvement and by unlocking their human potential using our great people and unparalleled practical industry experience.

By doing this we have come to value….

  • Evolution over revolution
  • Collaborative partnerships over supplier relationships
  • Pragmatic transformation over fundamentalist dogma
  • Transformational leadership over transactional management
  • Realising innate potential over hiring new staff
  • Simplicity over complexity
Michael Short
Radtac COO

[1] RITA – Radtac Information Transformation Approach is the company’s consulting approach to change and    transformation that combines all the leading methods and approaches into a deliverable 

Innovation and Change – The Challenge for Enterprises Part 2

Changing the way you do things is a massive challenge for humans. We are creatures of habit and from a young age our biology teaches us to do those things that work and we get rewarded for. Referred to as reinforcement learning, we learn what to do and how to do it by receiving positive feedback.

Why is such natural human behaviour a blocker to change, this illustration goes to why.

Led vs. Managed; different activities need different approaches

These two diagrams, which can be laid over each other, go to the route cause. You need to foster good management because this makes you efficient. Management focuses as a group on a process of making what you currently do more efficient rather than thinking ‘is what we currently do still providing best value to our customers’. When you have a formula that is commercially successful then you need to provide a programme of efficiency gains e.g. zero defects, total quality management etc. These are valuable and we have provided many such programmes. However it will not create a business that will survive. Just delivering the same thing cheaper and faster may not be the answer, especially in a globalized economy where delivering something 10% cheaper from one economic area still can’t compete with one that can inherently deliver something 50% cheaper.

You also need to provide develop a service that is more effective (answering current customer needs) than you currently provide. 

Effective business must evolve in tandem with the changing customer environment, delivering value to changing needs. That means innovation, because “doing what you have always done just gives you what you always got”. The bias of the organisation is that it is designed to “do what you’ve always done”, that is why innovation needs to be led. 

Effectiveness comes from innovation.

The leadership challenge is to lead an evolution to more effective working without destabilizing what is already established. This is challenging because:

  • Status quo is safe, it is how we got here
  • Our business is profitable and successful, why change what isn’t broken
  • If we change this will disrupt the company and is unfamiliar ground for the Executive
  • Innovation and new visions are hard, risky and do not play to strengths
  • True innovation is challenging because innovation is a ‘led’ not a ‘managed’ process

The answer to change lies in the development of a culture that supports innovation. Here are three fundamental aspects of cultural change;

  • Push and Pull – To create pull companies need to create small increments of success based around innovation and new approaches (what good looks like). They then need to provide a wider ‘toolbox’ of approaches, the ‘Pull’, training and corporate learning, that encourages and provides approaches which others can adopt when seeking to emulate these successes.
  • Accepting failure as a pathway to success – In achieving the ‘pull’ illustrated above there will be failure. When you are doing something new companies and CxOs must accept that this does not follow the ‘normal’ budgeted approach. Doing what you have always done is easy; doing something that is different (innovation) is hard. Measuring success by applauding loudly those who have always done what you always did will positively reinforce NOT changing anything, therefore reinforces stagnation and reducing company performance.
  • Leading by doing rather than talking – One of the keys aspects of success, the leadership, must constantly communicate the vision of innovation and why the company must do it. The Executive must walk the talk by making their success significantly dependent upon innovation. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) must be attached in a clear and meaningful way to risk taking. Leaders must adopt an approach of incremental inspect and adapt. Leaders must understand, rather than monstrous programmes of grand design and cost, change succeeds by starting small and evolving success. These approaches inspect and adapt to feedback or value delivered to client / customer

About Radtac

Radtac Ltd has been established for over 15 years and has delivered programmes for clients such as British Airways, Nokia, Rolls Royce, Hiscox, William Hill.

Radtac’s vision and values are ……..

Vision :

Radtac believe in challenging the status quo and in the innate ability of people to rise to the challenges of their organisation.

Values :

Radtac do this by helping our clients achieve sustainable continuous improvement and by unlocking their human potential using our great people and unparalleled practical industry experience.

By doing this we have come to value….

  • Evolution over revolution
  • Collaborative partnerships over supplier relationships
  • Pragmatic transformation over fundamentalist dogma
  • Transformational leadership over transactional management
  • Realising innate potential over hiring new staff
  • Simplicity over complexity

Michael Short

Radtac COO


The infamous ‘selfie’ that Ellen DeGeneres took at the Oscars has, at the time of writing, been re-tweeted over 3 million times.

So, always up for a challenge, I thought I would take my own ‘shelfie’ and see if I can get it to go viral! What do you think?

So what is on my ‘Agile Shelf’? Quite an eclectic assortment of books that I have either read, part read or been given (I have no plans to read any of those)!

So from left to right, tallest to smallest, let’s have a quick whistle stop tour of my ‘shelfie’.

Ring Binders x3

Course hand-outs from my CSM Course and the SAFe Program Consultant course, the former with Pete Measey and the latter with Dean Leffingwell; both ‘legends’ in the their own right!

Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2

And yes it is on my Agile shelf! Anyone that believes that Project Governance cannot happily co-exist with Agile Software Development is misguided.  Read the following:

Agile and the Best Management Practice framework within the public sector” Peter Measey, RADTAC Limited

 This book dates back to when I became a PRINCE 2 Practitioner back in 2004 which means I have lapsed in terms of my certification because I have not re-registered in the 3-5 years window.  And that’s not because I don’t value the accreditation, it’s more to do with whether re-registering would aid my understanding any more.

Scaling Software Agility and Agile Software Requirements

So I wanted to read about Scaling Agile before I went on the SAFe Program Consultant course and I thought Scaling Software Agility by Dean would be the book to read. Nope! It’s another good introduction to Agile. If you want to read about Scaled Agile then you need to read Agile Software Requirements. Doh – obvious really! In here is a very early incarnation of the big picture! It has evolved many times since!

Lean Analytics

This book was won by my colleague Dragan Jojic at Agile Yorkshire for tweeting at 8.55pm!! Have I read it? No!

Software Testing

A book published by BCS as an example of a course reference book. So why have I got it? Well, BCS have commissioned Radtac to write a supporting text for the Agile Foundation Certification. Exciting stuff – I plan to contribute to the book and become a co-author!!

Succeeding with Agile

In my personal opinion, this book by Mike Cohn is one of the best introductions to Agile and Scrum. Enough said!


The Blue book! The new kid on the block. Is it Agile or not? I don’t care. A must read for considering ‘flow’. However, I always have a small issue with books like these:

  1. They are always blue books!
  2. Why write 262 pages when 182 is probably enough – I never end up finishing these books.
  3. They tend to be extended Case Studies! In this case Microsoft XIT!

Balancing Agility and Discipline

Probably one of the first Agile books that I bought! It was early days in my first Agile adoption and, being in a corporate environment, I needed a disciplined approach because ‘back in the day’ Agile was considered to be ‘fly by the seat of your pants’!!! Actually that’s just FrAgile!

The Lean Start-up

Another blue book and another extended Case Study for Imvo! Also, I have borrowed this from another colleague (Alex Gray) and not given it back!

SPIN- Selling

This is a legacy from my days at a Senior Bank Manager with Lloyds TSB – don’t ask!


For me this is great for Agile Coaches, ScrumMasters and Project Managers alike, with superb tools for the tool box. At some stage, I really hope that I will be able to offer the Facilitation Course as part of the Radtac training catalogue. It’s on my backlog!

So here’s the challenge, re-tweet over 3 million times OR just tweet a picture of your shelfie!

Darren Wilmshurst

Head of Radtac: Consulting 

It’s about People and Culture, On-Line Betting & Gaming Technology – that’s the easy bit

CAT-terick, 2:40, a £5’er each way on the fav

“… it’s more a problem of people, processes and culture. If I had to do it again, I would spend 90% more time worrying about people and processes, and 90% less time worrying about the technology.” 

So who said this, a CEO ……. a Director of HR ……. Chief Business Officer …….. Chief Marketing Officer……Director of Sales….Head of Customer Service

If you thought it was one of these you’d be wrong it was the Chief Information Officer for Betfair and I wholeheartedly agree, read the whole article here from CIO magazine on-line. 

Michael Bischoff went on to say

“Our development and test shops are where … we’re supporting the ability …. to be asefficient and effective and Agile as possible …another way of thinking about that is more like an API-accessible set of capabilities, and here we’ve come a long way down that route.” Bischoff said he wants to see a broader deployment. ”Eventually we want to get it through to production as well, since there’s no reason that if we can orchestrate it with test and development it won’t work in production as well. The ability to deploy new features to our customers at speed is where we get our competitive advantage.” 

“The only sustainable competitive advantage is an organisation’s ability to learn faster than the competition.” Michael Bischoff? No a quote on the wall of a “Three Wall Workshop” run for our Radtac client workshop last week for a client. 

We regularly help clients become Efficient and Effective, we recently published this white paper “Evolutionary Change over Revolutionary Chaos” where we discussed our approach and why this is important to how you go about transformation and change, way before you look at what you were going to do.

So if you fancy a discussion on this subject and cannot get hold of Michael Bischoff why not talk to #Radtac, We have worked with clients in the #Media and #Television space as well as the #gaming and #betting arena on just these issues.  Help is at hand and it is easier to get than you may have thought.

Michael Short

Radtac COO

0203 638 5040

Agile is not about Cost Reduction!

Many times an organisation will embark on an Agile transformation because they have been told, and maybe believe, that it will make their software development projects cheaper (Oh, and they will deliver faster and have better quality as well, but that is a discussion for another time!). This is a false goal that will more than likely not be attained and I will attempt to explain why.

The goal of implementing Agile should NOT be about cost reduction. A statement from Donald Reinertsen sums it up nicely:

“Armed with the wrong definition of economic success, we would naturally measure—and optimize—the wrong things”

Agile principles

Starting from the absolute basics of Agile, none of the principles, whether it is those in the Agile Manifesto, or those of any of the main methods says anything about cost saving being a primary, or even secondary, aim. It is all about delivering Value, as quickly as possible. Lean might hint at it with waste elimination, but even there it does not directly relate that to cost.

Putting focus on the wrong thing

There is a phrase used in a number of reference sources on Lean and Agile which states that we should:

“Watch the baton, not the runner”

This is at the heart of the Agile approach where we need to keep our eyes on the work flowing through the system, not the people carrying it out. It is the process we model in a Value Stream, the pieces of work flowing through the system. The danger of using cost, which is primarily incurred due to the people, is that the focus turns to the runners. The temptation is to start looking for cost saving in the resources we use, whether that be in a project by slimming down the team, or obviously outsourcing and offshoring, and it is more than likely that this has a damaging effect on the outcome. Sure, costs have been saved, but the project will fail, and then Agile gets the blame.

Cost Reduction has Negative Overtones

When cost is touted as the main reason for implementing change it is not generally well received. It would appear to be a serious de-motivator to the teams who are required to carry out the change. Cost saving initiatives, in my experience, are always a signal to start looking for another job, as my salary is in jeopardy! “The company is in trouble and it is all the employees fault” would be the perception.

Wouldn’t it be better to motivate them with a positive target, one that inspires and calls upon their corporate spirit, wanting to do a good job to keep the company going and to bring them benefit?

In Conclusion

So when you are confronted by your boss who states that he needs to reduce costs and that is why he is implementing Agile, it would be in both your interests to attempt to disabuse him of that notion and encourage a dialogue on what are the real reasons behind the organisations problems, how Agile might help address them, and to make sure that the goal is not about cost reduction, but improving the flow of high value to the business.

Randal Cooper

Director Product Development & QA

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