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Agile Value:
Systems Thinking and
Balancing Autonomy at Scale
Agile Twin Cities 2019
Laura O’Brien | LLOBrien@Travelers.com | in/llobrien
Agile Transformation & Learning
The views expressed in this presentation are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The
Travelers Companies, Inc. or any of its subsidiaries. This presentation is for general informational purposes only.
What do you think of when you
see this image?
Weatherman! Counting chirps reveals
temperature (Dollbear’s law)
Be quiet! Annoyance
Yum! Delicacy, tasty treat
Great sport! Cricket fighting
Beautiful musicians
Good luck, wisdom and prosperity
Family pet
Sustainable food source
$$$$ - Sound financial investment
The Travelers Companies, Inc.
Founded in 1853
Approximately 30,000 employees; 13,500
independent agents and brokers
Generated revenues of approximately $30
billion in 2018
Locations across the United States, Canada, UK
and Ireland
Only property casualty company in the Dow
Jones Industrial Average
The largest writer of workers compensation
and commercial property insurance in the
United States
Title sponsor of the Travelers Championship,
which has generated nearly 20 million for
charity since Travelers became title sponsor in
2007
A History of Firsts
Tr a v e l e r s
1897
Issued the first automobile
insurance policy
1919
Offered aircraft liability insurance,
with a full aviation program
1968
Pioneered the “CAT Van”
mobile claim office
1969
Issued accident policies for space
flight and lunar exploration
2016
Created the first predictive model to
help inured employees avoid
chronic pain and opioid use
2018
Industry’s first digital
storefront on Amazon
2018
Provider of U.S. auto
insurance claim
management for Lyft
Creating Agility
A g i l e Tr a n s f o r m a t i o n & L e a r n i n g
Practices
Principles
Audit
Finance
Metrics
Standards & Policy
Reporting
HR
Sourcing
... New Ways of Working
Coaching
Communities of Practice
Training
New Ways of Working ...
Leadership
Teams
What is Value?
Customers
Have great experiences
Cool products
Great value and price
Respect the company
Speed
Shareholders
Make honest money
Compliance
Security
Reputation
Employees / Teams
Do cool stuff
Learn cool stuff
Make meaningful contribution
Be respected and appreciated
Be heard
Have fun
Mastery, autonomy, purpose
Business activities are any
events that are undertaken by
a corporation for the purpose
of earning a profit.
Operating activities relate directly to the business
providing its goods to the market, including manufacturing,
distributing, marketing, and selling.
Investing activities relate to the long-term use of cash,
such as gains and losses from investments in financial markets
and operating subsidiaries
Financing activities include sources of cash from investors
or banks, and the uses of cash paid to shareholders, such as
payment of dividends or stock repurchases, and the
repayment of loans
Systems thinking is
the process of
understanding how
things that may be
regarded as systems
influence one
another within a
complete entity or
larger system.
Micro Systems
Macro Systems
Balancing Autonomy and Consistency
SOX Example
Guidelines
Include methods for determining the population subject to the control,
selecting a judgmentally derived statistical sample and evidencing the
following control objectives:
q Establish a business case
q Obtain approval to initiate work
q Document acceptance of delivered product
Epic Owners must move Cards!
Standardized Portfolio Kanban States!
As we continue on our agile adoption journey, the way
we work is changing.
We can streamline how we certify SOX controls
governing Agile delivery.
Financial Process Example
As we continue on our agile adoption journey, the way we
work is changing.
This provides an opportunity to simplify our governance
and financial processes via Lean Agile Governance
Monitoring Point Relativity...
Normalized Story Points!?
Governance
Funding
Costing
Phase-based gating &
formal change controls
Continuous prioritization;
no formal phase gates of
change controls
Fund projects Fund teams
Based on time
reporting
Based on accepted
stories & team costs
Tools Example
...and Confidence
Speed, Flexibility...
As we continue on our agile adoption journey, the
way we work is changing.
Continuous delivery requires a greater emphasis on
orchestration...
Which requires new tools
Speed
Flexibility
Adaptability
Usability
Security
Maintainability
Auditability/Traceability
Backup/Recovery
Teams Enterprise
Summary
Frame of Reference is critical
Understanding value across all
business activities
Micro and macro systems
within the organization and
how to leverage them to
strike the right balance
between consistency and
autonomy
Questions?

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Agile Value: Systems Thinking and Balancing Autonomy at Scale

  • 1. Agile Value: Systems Thinking and Balancing Autonomy at Scale Agile Twin Cities 2019 Laura O’Brien | LLOBrien@Travelers.com | in/llobrien Agile Transformation & Learning The views expressed in this presentation are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Travelers Companies, Inc. or any of its subsidiaries. This presentation is for general informational purposes only.
  • 2. What do you think of when you see this image? Weatherman! Counting chirps reveals temperature (Dollbear’s law) Be quiet! Annoyance Yum! Delicacy, tasty treat Great sport! Cricket fighting Beautiful musicians Good luck, wisdom and prosperity Family pet Sustainable food source $$$$ - Sound financial investment
  • 3.
  • 4. The Travelers Companies, Inc. Founded in 1853 Approximately 30,000 employees; 13,500 independent agents and brokers Generated revenues of approximately $30 billion in 2018 Locations across the United States, Canada, UK and Ireland Only property casualty company in the Dow Jones Industrial Average The largest writer of workers compensation and commercial property insurance in the United States Title sponsor of the Travelers Championship, which has generated nearly 20 million for charity since Travelers became title sponsor in 2007
  • 5. A History of Firsts Tr a v e l e r s 1897 Issued the first automobile insurance policy 1919 Offered aircraft liability insurance, with a full aviation program 1968 Pioneered the “CAT Van” mobile claim office 1969 Issued accident policies for space flight and lunar exploration 2016 Created the first predictive model to help inured employees avoid chronic pain and opioid use 2018 Industry’s first digital storefront on Amazon 2018 Provider of U.S. auto insurance claim management for Lyft
  • 6. Creating Agility A g i l e Tr a n s f o r m a t i o n & L e a r n i n g Practices Principles Audit Finance Metrics Standards & Policy Reporting HR Sourcing ... New Ways of Working Coaching Communities of Practice Training New Ways of Working ... Leadership Teams
  • 7. What is Value? Customers Have great experiences Cool products Great value and price Respect the company Speed Shareholders Make honest money Compliance Security Reputation Employees / Teams Do cool stuff Learn cool stuff Make meaningful contribution Be respected and appreciated Be heard Have fun Mastery, autonomy, purpose
  • 8. Business activities are any events that are undertaken by a corporation for the purpose of earning a profit. Operating activities relate directly to the business providing its goods to the market, including manufacturing, distributing, marketing, and selling. Investing activities relate to the long-term use of cash, such as gains and losses from investments in financial markets and operating subsidiaries Financing activities include sources of cash from investors or banks, and the uses of cash paid to shareholders, such as payment of dividends or stock repurchases, and the repayment of loans
  • 9. Systems thinking is the process of understanding how things that may be regarded as systems influence one another within a complete entity or larger system. Micro Systems Macro Systems
  • 10. Balancing Autonomy and Consistency
  • 11. SOX Example Guidelines Include methods for determining the population subject to the control, selecting a judgmentally derived statistical sample and evidencing the following control objectives: q Establish a business case q Obtain approval to initiate work q Document acceptance of delivered product Epic Owners must move Cards! Standardized Portfolio Kanban States! As we continue on our agile adoption journey, the way we work is changing. We can streamline how we certify SOX controls governing Agile delivery.
  • 12. Financial Process Example As we continue on our agile adoption journey, the way we work is changing. This provides an opportunity to simplify our governance and financial processes via Lean Agile Governance Monitoring Point Relativity... Normalized Story Points!? Governance Funding Costing Phase-based gating & formal change controls Continuous prioritization; no formal phase gates of change controls Fund projects Fund teams Based on time reporting Based on accepted stories & team costs
  • 13. Tools Example ...and Confidence Speed, Flexibility... As we continue on our agile adoption journey, the way we work is changing. Continuous delivery requires a greater emphasis on orchestration... Which requires new tools Speed Flexibility Adaptability Usability Security Maintainability Auditability/Traceability Backup/Recovery Teams Enterprise
  • 14. Summary Frame of Reference is critical Understanding value across all business activities Micro and macro systems within the organization and how to leverage them to strike the right balance between consistency and autonomy Questions?