Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dangerous conversations with Nigel Green

Every couple of weeks, Nigel and I talk about "stuff". This week it was more on his Agile Business Change Design (ABCD) style (details here).

There's still a bit that is causing us both to scratch our heads - and that is how to transition from actor based behaviors to role based thinking. Value networks do a fantastic job of showing what happens by role, but current state organizations are not necessarily organized that way.

In the current state we often see the same role being performed by different people/organizations, or an organization taing on many roles or usually a combination of both. That's likely to be inefficient, but efficiency isn't really the goal.

The beauty of the ABCD style is that it is lightweight, simple, effective, narrative based (as opposed to technique and methodology based). However there are some points at which technique rears its ugly head. That can potentially be a slippery slope - leading to large, methodology bounded, consultant driven, expensive approaches. A favorite technique, applied by MBAs especially,  is "cluster analysis". grouping "things" by common properties in order to look for some thread on which to hang a thesis. However, just because it can be long winded and overblown doesn't mean it has to be. The property that we need to cluster around here is the property of "like". When I am checking someone in, I may have to change a reservation, so I am acting "like" a reservation agent.
The ABCD Change Agent (ugh, I hate that term) should  quickly in the synthesis step be able to discern the essential roles from the "Commander's Imperative". The actual organizational structures (silos or "cyclinders of excellence") will come out of the operational reality narratives. The skill comes in allowing those in the operational reality to see the roles in a non-threatening way. To recognize that the process isn't an attempt to sabotage their work and working lives, but to more clearly delineate what the organization plans to have done.
Help desks/support centers are often quite confusing in this kind of analysis because the agent at the desk is by definition some kind of generalist. The agent will often have to behave in a variety of different roles - and overlap with people applying the same role in other parts of the organization.
Help desk staff are extremely valuable to have in these sessions because of their breadth - and because of what they see at the Demand end of the operation - they are in touch with what is actually happening, as opposed to what "management" thinks should be happening.
So for the ABCD CA, a goal is to make sure that people on the demand side of the organization - where the money is made, where the contacts with the market the company serves are established and reinforced are fully and properly represented. After all we want to hear how it is, not how some manager's or director's fantasy of how it should be.

No comments:

Post a Comment