Row Together, Row in the Right Direction, Row Faster


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Using the metaphor of rowing boats to describe the key aspects of improving organisations

Presented at YOW! 2010 in Melbourne and Brisbane

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Row Together, Row in the Right Direction, Row Faster

  1. 1. Row togetherRow in the right direction Row faster Jason Yip @jchyip
  2. 2. What’s going on here?Why didn’t it work?
  3. 3. Was this a completely different situation or isthere a pattern forming?
  4. 4. Hmmm... new problems popped up
  5. 5. Different problems, different tactics... but is there anunderlying common model?
  6. 6. Let’s talk about row boats
  7. 7. You don’t win boatraces by only focusing on one aspect
  8. 8. Rowing together Alignment / CoordinationRowing in the right Direction / Shared vision direction Rowing faster Productivity / Skill
  9. 9. What is “rowing together”?
  10. 10. U-boats sunkBefore creation of Tenth Fleet 36 in 1.5 years (May 1943)After creation of Tenth Fleet 75 in 6 months
  11. 11. Rowing together isabout systems, not “talent”
  12. 12. What is “rowing in the right direction”?
  13. 13. NOT so much “we’ll invest more in space” BUT more“man on the moon at the end of the decade”
  14. 14. “Simplify enterprise Java” ringS ource Sp
  15. 15. What is “rowing faster”?
  16. 16. ans hip Mas teryCra ftsm Rowing faster is about high performance individual behaviour 10 000 hours
  17. 17. Rowing faster is alsoabout high performanceorganisational behaviour
  18. 18. Low performer High performer Understood or not Pass or fail understood Looking for results, even if Looking for knowledge caused by random luck that produces results Make predictions in order Set passing thresholds to validate current model of realityDerived from The High Velocity Edge by Steven J. Spear
  19. 19. Don’t be willing to acceptignorance about the contract of a component you rely on High p erforman ce min dset
  20. 20. A question for Takeshi Kawabe g” ea n Thinkin ing Wh o? See “L Manufactur a chapte r on Show“ What would you suggest should bedone with a software developmentteam where there is a significantdifference in skill levels, lets say up to10x difference?”
  21. 21. rmer” nd worst perfo not “seco“Set the best performers as the standard.Pair people with the masters in a master-apprentice model. Find other suitable jobsfor those without aptitude. Like professionalbaseball players, you need to practice every day to be aprofessional. Software development is a team activityand teams are only as strong as theirweakest link.”
  22. 22. How well does thismodel fit with my experiences?
  23. 23. Rowing together Alignment / CoordinationRowing in the right Direction / Shared vision direction Rowing faster Productivity / Skill
  24. 24. What problems existed atthe defense contractor?• Rowing together? Despite all the “Hoshin goals”, no. It’s like a portion of the boat just stopped rowing because their part was done.• Rowing in the right direction? Probably• Rowing fast enough? No. Typical problem with defense contracts. Way too slow to respond to events.
  25. 25. What problems existed inthe operations support role? • Rowing together? Seemed to be. • Rowing in the right direction? No. Wishful thinking about the effectiveness of middleware and no intention to validate. • Rowing fast enough? No. Did not even have basic knowledge about “rowing” (e.g., using a shared network drive rather than a VCS). Code-and-fix approach.
  26. 26. What problems typically exist onAgile delivery and transformation projects?• Rowing together? Typically have problems with local optimisation for subset teams• Rowing in the right direction? Sometimes unclear on the ground what the direction is. Typically direction is not validated.• Rowing fast enough? Typically not as fast as they could be. Most places do not deliberately focus on developing skills.
  27. 27. Shallow root cau se? su pport? itative Quant Observation bias?I’m just putting this out there e useful... but are also risky Met aphors may b Conveni ent fictio n?
  28. 28. Photographs• Underpants: •• Elephant parts: • • • •• U-boat: •• Hippo: •• Dice: •
  29. 29. Thanks for listening Jason Yip @jchyip