Tag Archives: Agile

Updates from McKinsey

An on-demand revolution in customer-experience operations?
Whether relying mainly on in-house or external talent, gig-style staffing models—when managed carefully—could give customer care the horsepower and flexibility it needs for today’s increasingly volatile markets.
By Vinay Gupta, Raelyn Jacobson, Paul Kline, Manu Mehndiratta, and Julian Raabe – When businesses across the globe were forced to shutter in 2020, the leaders at one regional North American bank shifted to virtual mode. Anticipating that customer-call volumes would remain elevated through the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, bank leaders created a streamlined training module to cross-train sidelined branch workers. The extra support from branch colleagues helped the bank to manage the high volume of calls. Better still, because the supporting workers were branch personnel, their knowledge of the bank’s processes, products, and culture helped maintain the high level of customer satisfaction that the bank had worked so hard to achieve. Leaders learned that this internal “gig worker” approach could be a solution for managing future spikes in demand, whether from unforeseen events or seasonally based capacity increases. And, during a time of great uncertainty, it gave employees new opportunities—to work flexibly, learn new skills, and even find new career paths. That flexibility may give companies an edge now that many are fighting a “Great Attrition.” 

The COVID-19 lockdowns sparked a major scramble to move business to online and phone-based channels. Not every company, however, was prepared to handle the ensuing digital deluge; at this point, there are little data on how effectively companies coped. But the experiences of companies to date show that many organizations are now rethinking how they staff customer-care operations.

Flexible staffing—the use of external talent from outsourcing providers or independent freelancers—has been a staple of customer service for decades. But the pandemic may well be the first time that the redeployment of in-house talent from other departments has occurred on a relatively large scale.

Both approaches, externally and internally sourced, constitute the core of what we call “gig customer-experience operations,” or Gig CX. And it behooves companies from across the industry spectrum to consider making this strategy a part of their regular operations. In this article, we explore the pros and cons of Gig CX and identify four essential elements that must be in place to make it work. more>

Updates from McKinsey

Moving beyond agile to become a software innovator
Companies need to borrow a page from the tech industry’s playbook to understand how to use agile to build better products and experiences.
By Santiago Comella-Dorda, Martin Harrysson, and Shivam Srivastava – t the end of the movie The Candidate, Robert Redford is sitting in a hotel room surrounded by cheering staffers after his character has won the election for the US Senate. Looking a little perplexed and forlorn, he turns to his advisor and asks, “What do we do now?”

Many executives who have led their businesses through successful agile programs can probably relate to Redford’s character. They have overseen sizable improvements in software product development thanks to agile; our Developer Velocity research shows that adoption of agile practices at the team level can be one of the most critical dimensions for companies that are in the early part of their journey.

But many of these businesses have run into a ceiling where incremental gains are minimal. The same Developer Velocity research, for example, showed that while third-quartile companies in terms of overall software-development performance scored 41 percent higher on agile practices than fourth-quartile companies, the differences between companies in the first and second quartiles dropped to less than 20 percent. In other words, once a business hits a certain level of excellence, improvements to how teams work in agile alone drive diminishing returns.

For companies that have realized many of the initial gains from adopting agile, there are valuable lessons to be learned from how tech companies develop products. The industry’s intense competition and pace of change have forced tech companies to develop a set of capabilities that take the fullest advantage of agile, of which the following are the most important:

  • grounding every decision on customer value through world-class product management and experience design and adopting an operating model built on products and platforms
  • creating a software-engineering culture that nurtures and celebrates technical craftmanship, empowers teams, and provides them with high levels of psychological safety in addition to supporting developers with automation and world-class tools
  • embedding data and analytics at every level of product development

more>

Updates from McKinsey

Building a cloud-ready operating model for agility and resiliency
Four operating-model changes can help companies accelerate the journey to cloud.
By Santiago Comella-Dorda, Mishal Desai, Arun Gundurao, Krish Krishnakanthan, and Selim Sulos – With customer expectations and technology evolving at an unprecedented clip, moving to cloud is increasingly becoming a strategic priority for businesses. Capturing the $1 trillion value up for grabs in the cloud, however, has proven frustratingly difficult for many companies. One of the main reasons for this difficulty is that IT’s operating model remains stuck in a quagmire of legacy processes, methodologies, and technologies.

Overcoming this problem requires business and IT to take a step back and think holistically about their cloud operating model. And they need to move now. IT has become integral to driving value and a crucial enabler in meeting business and customer expectations of speed, flexibility, cost, and reliability. At the same time, the risk of failure is increasing because of the growth in complexities and demands around new architectures, agile application development, on-demand access to infrastructure through self-service, cloud migration, and distributed computing, to name a few.

While most organizations will need to adopt a hybrid-cloud approach for the foreseeable future, it will be hard to capture much of cloud’s value without reimagining the IT infrastructure that is ground zero of the cloud operating model. Set up correctly, infrastructure can quickly expand access to new services and products, accelerate time to market for application teams, and cut operating costs at the same time—all of which unleash businesses’ innovation potential.

To capture these benefits, companies must undertake a holistic transformation of infrastructure grounded on four mutually reinforcing shifts: adopt a site-reliability-engineer (SRE) model, 1 design infrastructure services as products, manage outcomes versus activities, and build an engineering-focused talent model. The benefits of these shifts can accrue to infrastructure and operations (I&O) even if they remain completely on-premises. more>

What Is Strategic Agility?

By Steve Denning – As I suggested here and here, the subject of Strategic Agility is important because it’s central to the key business issue: how to make money from Agile? If the Agile movement is only about creating great workplaces for software developers (also important!) but doesn’t generate better business outcomes, its life expectancy won’t be long. Since I continue to get questions about the meaning of the term, “Strategic Agility,” a few more words about it are in order.

To begin with, it’s useful to recognize that “strategy” in management is contested territory. The term is used in different senses by different practitioners and writers. I am not suggesting that one sense of “strategy” is right and all the others are necessarily wrong. So long as we make clear how we are using the term, we can go on having a useful discussion.

Much of what I see in the world of Agile software development is, by my definition, operational Agility. i.e. making the existing products better, faster, cheaper and so on for existing customers.

Operational Agility is a good thing, and even essential, but it has a drawback. It usually doesn’t make much money.

That’s because in the 21st Century marketplace where competitors are often quick to match improvements to existing products and services, and where power in the marketplace has decisively shifted to customers, it can be difficult for firms to monetize those improvements. more>

Is Agile The Antidote To Your Horrible Boss?

BOOK REVIEW

The Castle, Author: Franz Kafka.
Accelerate, Author: John Kotter.
Age of Heretics, Author: Art Kleiner.

By Steve Denning – If you’ve toiled in a big organization for any time, you’re familiar with the whips and scorns of an insolent supervisor and the sneer of cold command. In the midst of multiple put-downs and slights of your best efforts, it’s little consolation that your horrible boss is just as unhappy as you are.

We now know that the cost of bureaucracy is high. Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini suggest that in the USA it’s $3 trillion annually.

Is this the best that the human race can manage? Is there no antidote to soul-destroying bureaucracy?

One possibility that has recently emerged is Agile–a way of running organizations that has become a vast global movement. In principle at least, it sounds attractively anti-bureaucratic, as explained here.

In Agile, people and interactions are emphasized ahead of process and tools. Customers and staff constantly interact with each other. Finished work is delivered frequently so that the people can see the impact of their work in days or weeks rather than years.

Communications take the form of conversations, not top-down commands. There is close daily cooperation between business people, developers and designers.

Continuous attention is paid to technical excellence and good design and regular adaptation to changing circumstances. Teams routinely achieve high-performance and operate in the state of “flow” identified by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, where those doing the work enjoy energized focus, full involvement, and deep satisfaction in the process of the activity. more> https://goo.gl/BHarqN

What Is Agile?

By Steve Denning – As software itself becomes a critical driver in almost all businesses, Agile is now spreading to every kind of organization and every aspect of work, as recognized in 2016 by the citadel of general management—Harvard Business Review—with its article, “Embracing Agile,” by Darrell K. Rigby, Jeff Sutherland and Hirakata Takeuchi.

“Now agile methodologies—which involve new values, principles, practices, and benefits and are a radical alternative to command-and-control-style management—are spreading across a broad range of industries and functions and even into the C-suite. National Public Radio employs agile methods to create new programming. John Deere uses them to develop new machines, and Saab to produce new fighter jets. Intronis, a leader in cloud backup services, uses them in marketing. C.H. Robinson, a global third-party logistics provider, applies them in human resources. Mission Bell Winery uses them for everything from wine production to warehousing to running its senior leadership group.” more> http://goo.gl/HoyaL8

Updates from GE

3 Keys To Building an Agile Society for the 4th Industrial Revolution

By Mike Gregoire – In 19th-century England, bus companies, dependent on horses to pull their carriages, were furious with the advent of new “horseless carriages.”

Travel was becoming mechanized — faster and more convenient. The government defended horse bus companies and introduced Red Flag Laws that set automobile speed limits to how fast a man could walk with a red flag in front of them.

Governance is not the only system being challenged by technological progress. Consider societal constructs, like education. The 4th Industrial Revolution means that the world is getting more automated — McKinsey estimates that 45 percent of paid activities have the potential to be fully automated using technology that exists in the world today.

There is a clear need to rethink the kinds of skills and ways of learning to create a world where work is still meaningful and profitable, both for the organization and the worker.

The common thread here is that to fully realize all of the benefits of the 4th Industrial Revolution, the foundational pillars of society need to catch up. That’s where “agile” comes in. more> http://goo.gl/Sa5Ya8

Can The 21st Century Corporation Operate Without Agile?

By Steve Denning – In traditional management, “Strategy gets set at the top,” as Gary Hamel often explains.

“Power trickles down. Big leaders appoint little leaders. Individuals compete for promotion. Compensation correlates with rank. Tasks are assigned. Managers assess performance. Rules tightly circumscribe discretion.”

The purpose of this world is self-evident: to make money for the shareholders, including the top executives. Its communications are top-down. Its values are efficiency and predictability.

The key to succeeding in this world is tight control.

Its dynamic is conservative: to preserve the gains of the past.

Its workforce is dispirited. more> http://tinyurl.com/pc2dc8y