Monthly Archives: October 2009

How to transform an organization

To me, the big theme of this year’s Scan-Agile conference was that transforming individual teams to agile is not enough – the entire organization needs to change. Converting a team to, say, Scrum is a waste of time if the increased output and flexibility cannot be used by the organization. It can be even harmful if it puts more pressure on other places of the organization. (And of course, it may be impossible for the team to change if the organization doesn’t.)

Based on the teachings of the conference, if I had to transform an organization, how would I do it? Here’s how:

  1. Can you draw the value stream map? If not, simplify your product offerings until you can.
  2. Draw the value stream map. Find out where the bottlenecks are.
  3. Slow down the value stream to the speed of the bottleneck.
  4. Find ways to speed up the stream at the bottleneck.
  5. Go to 2.

Any process changes, e.g. the introduction of agile development practices or beyond-budgeting principles, should have the goal of improving the value stream. If the change cannot be justified by looking at the value stream, it should not be made.

I don’t know much about value stream mapping or theory of constraints, but I think I ought to. I hear The Goal is the book to read.

I have only tinkered with process changes on the team level. You with more experience, please tell me, did I understand things correctly?