Network organization in a nutshell

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Important

  1. Build multi-functional team.
  2. Pick up the problem/challenge/value.
  3. Define whom it’s important for.
  4. Define dependencies.
  5. Define success/failure criteria.
  6. Slice it.
  7. Prepare.
  8. Make.
  9. Give it to the world.
  10. Retrieve & analyze feedback.
  11. Keep #6, #7, #8, #9, #10 – cycle short.

Depends (not important)

  • Process you use – less is more. underestimated cost of spreading heavyweight process accross users.
  • Tools you use – bottom up standardization normally works much better. but would be interesting to make an investigation how/if tools standardization really helps.
  • Planning – as lots of work is invested into making a plan, people try to a void changing it to match the reality.
  • Various definition and templates – often do not match real work even before being issued.
  • Roles descriptions – typically defined for people below high level management.

p.s. Tayloristic organisation defines “not important” as highly important

Constraints On Effective Product Development

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Organising yourself as a network of multi-dependent teams helps to solve following constraints and increase effectiveness of product development

Functional Teams

People from different functional areas must be a part of the same team to eliminate all possible “cross departments” activities

Toyota have long eliminated this constraint through their Obeya concept, and unique matrix structure.

Capacity of Bottlenecks

Often certain teams in the company can become a bottleneck as lots of others start to depend on them. Providing options for teams in different stages of development gives needed flexibility and possibility to act according the situation.

Delayed Decision Making 

Building structure around function silos and skills forces you to increase additional layers of coordination or start more projects which automatically leads to more communication points and less efficiency. additionally temporary nature of projects breaks ownership mindset. Organising around value forces you to:

  • think long term as there is no end, but continuous value delivery
  • focus on relevant problems, especially if options are given to others and they can abandon your service
  • build in ownership and quality as things will not be passed to someone else

 

What other constraints you face? Do you find these common?

Resources

  • http://www.organizeforcomplexity.com
  • https://medium.com/@flowchainsensei/constraints-on-effective-product-development-3b2684f5d1e2#.puz0ysspx
  • http://agilemindstorm.com/2016/03/16/network-structure-it-works/

Network structure – it works

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It was a long journey of trying to understand what organisational structure is best for dynamic growth, experiments, agility and change.

Simple conclusion that i came up for myself – it works! And it is the best way to grow up to an organization to a scale of 600 people at least. Reasons behind are simple – it allows you to scale fast naturally and have built-in flexibility in the structure to a constant change. Obviously there are challenges which you have to overcome.

TOP 7 Challenges

  1. Flexible structure is not possible if you want to keep technical foundation monolithic. Devops and Service Oriented Architecture is a must use practices otherwise organization will not be able to adjust to changing business demand fast enough
  2. Easy to fallback to local optimizations and thinking that structure is something permanent
    • POD Leads and Keepers start to maintain status quo rather than to advocate the change as structure must be adjusted according new findings, growing number of people, speed of delivery and many other things that pop up during the journey
    • Extreme sense of ownership can lead to certain local optimizations instead of seeking global improvement
  3. It’s very important to define common artifacts for PODs as soon as possible so everybody knows what to expect and how to work. You can start from something simple first and grow it naturally according the needs
  4. Pod sponsor role is extremely critical in order to achieve alignment and solve challenges outside the scope of the POD or priority conflicts
    • Especially for service pods which are often understaffed and business value is indirect, but high expectations are formed by the community
    • Pod sponsor is an important contributor to network orchestration
  5. Transparency is key, especially regarding speed of delivery and commitments
  6. Behavior and mindset is much more important than experience as new structure depends a lot on readiness to change and constant learning
  7. Change and adoption core group must be full-time activity and include decision makers (often C-level)
    • Plays leading role in network orchestration
    • Solves operational challenges together with leaders

But what you get instead:

  • you know value creation chain of your company and make dependencies visible
  • people are committed and motivated as they are the owners of what they do and decision making is delegated to them
  • problems are transparent to everyone who is looking for information and you can act upon them

Updated document with our experience – POD framework v.03, comparing to previous version you will find:

  • Description of deliverables and artifacts that can be used as a starting point of your journey
  • Better description of roles to handle expectations
  • Description of how roles work should together
  • Challenges that you must prepare for

If you have experience organizing work as a network of autonomous teams, I would love to hear your insights, ideas and experience.