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Agile Special Forces

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  • 1. Lightweight teams in heavyweight organizations Agile Special Forces Sergey Prokhorenko Luxoft Agile Practice 21 March 2014
  • 2. 2 Clients’ Perception of Agile 21 March 2014 Fixing issues • Doing right things • Doing things right • Clear progress • Change for free Traditional restrictions • Cost reduction • Budget commitments • Zero tolerance for failures • Shareholders’ pressure
  • 3. 3 Clash of Management Theories
  • 4. 4 Traditional Hierarchy Commander- in-Chief US Army 10 active divisions 4 regiments and BCTs Special Operations Command USMC USN USAF USCG SecDef CJCS
  • 5. 5 US Army Special Operations Command Special Forces (“green berets”) CAG aka Delta Force (classified anti- terrorist unit) 75th Rangers Regiment (elite strike force) Various support and logistics units “Operations conducted by, with, or through irregular forces in support of a resistance movement, an insurgency, or conventional military operations.” FM 3-05.201, (S/NF) Special Forces Unconventional Warfare (U) 28 September 2007
  • 6. 6 Challenges UW ConceptUSAF OEF-A Context (2001)  Abandoned since 1991  Almost no presence of CIA  Landlocked country  No up-to-date invasion plan  Six months estimate for planning phase  Massive bombing of key targets  Engaging targets from high altitude due to AA emplacements  Flying from Oman or Indian ocean  No real results  “True Believers”  Deploy to Uzbekistan as CSAR teams  Infiltrate Afghanistan  Help USAF with air control  Train local forces and prepare for full-scale invasion
  • 7. 7 Cross-Functional Teams Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) structure FM 3-21.20 (7-20), The Infantry Battalion 13 December 2006
  • 8. 8 Case Study: ODA 574 Challenge for US SF: – Support Hamid Karzai (future president of Afghanistan) in heading anti-Taliban movement in southeastern Afghanistan (Oct-Dec 2001)
  • 9. 9 Case Study: ODA 574 Responding to change
  • 10. 10 Case Study: ODA 574 – Analysis Mission Accomplished Motivation Autonomy Mastery Purpose Resources USAF bombers Supply drops Money Infrastructure CCT Satellite links Equipment
  • 11. 11 More Peaceful – Marshmallow Challenge  18 minutes  Teams of four  Tallest freestanding structure  Marshmallow has to be on top
  • 12. 12 Lessons Learned  Kindergarten graduates perform better than business school graduates  Prototyping matters  Diverse skills matter  Incentives + low skills = failure  Incentives + skills = success Does Agile approach fit any activity?
  • 13. 13 Back to ODA Structure  “Truck number” ≥ 2  “Split team” concept  Fully cross-component  Able to operate independently in a hostile environment  Highly skilled professionals (rank is SSG and higher)  No novices – at all  Typical career path: regular Army or Rangers, then SF  Often teamed up with USAF combat controllers
  • 14. 14 Big Question Marks  Which projects can leverage junior team members in self- organized teams?  Is Agile really a silver bullet?  How to train juniors for large business-critical Agile projects?
  • 15. 15 Case Study: Battle of Tora Bora Challenge for CAG (aka Delta Force): – Kill or capture Osama bin Laden in Tora Bora cave complex (Dec 2001)
  • 16. 16 Case Study: Battle of Tora Bora Failure to kill or capture OBL Victory • Tora Bora complex captured • Taliban presence eliminated
  • 17. 17 Case Study: Battle of Tora Bora – Analysis Mission Failed Motivation Autonomy Mastery Purpose Resources USAF bombers Area blocking Money Infrastructure CCT Satellite links Equipment
  • 18. 18 Lessons to Learn  One of the best operators in the world  Best equipment  All might of the US Air Force vs  Allies not seeing clear purpose  Risk-averse approach  Political issues  Lack of support from SF and Rangers Would conventional (non-Agile) approach fit better?
  • 19. 1921 March 2014 Cynefin Framework
  • 20. 20 Agile Principle #5 Success Autonomy Mastery PurposeEnvironment Support
  • 21. 21 Team Development 21 March 2014 Forming Storming Norming Performing Shu Ha Ri Successful Agile teams are as valuable outcome of the project as the product itself
  • 22. 22 Easy Scaling?
  • 23. 23 Organizational Culture Theory X • Thorough planning • Resource-based organization • Strict hierarchy • Easy scaling • Good for keeping up Theory Y • Responding to change • Team-based organization • Steep learning curve • Good for rapid engagements
  • 24. 24 What’s Next?  Unconventional Development? – Means for Agile teams to find a place in large enterprise organizations – Leading the way in challenging projects – Opportunity for most skilled people – “Bootcamps” and qualification courses for the rest of organization  Clear grading system to identify missing skills  Quantity to quality – Organizational transformation – Education and coaching at senior levels
  • 25. 25 Personal Development Opportunities 21 March 2014
  • 26. 26 Further Reading
  • 27. Your QR Code Thank you! 14 March 2014 Sergey Prokhorenko Luxoft sprokhorenko@luxoft.com ua.linkedin.com/in/sergeyprokhorenko

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