This is the first of a series of blogs on how Agile and DevOps ways of working are scaling and making their way across the business functions: HR, Finance, Procurement, Technology, Marketing and Sales.
If you are working in technology and making progress with Agile and DevOps ways of working within your own function, you may be looking at ways to work more effectively with other functions across your organisation: HR, finance, procurement, marketing, sales. Here are some ideas and tips to help you:
1. Make Friends
Over many years of working in the area of inspiring collaboration between functions, I passionately believe that the focus has to be on what you have in common. Patrick Debois’ keynote talk at the recent DevOpsDays 10th Anniversary in Ghent, was SPOT ON. He is also passionate about the need to ‘make friends’. By this he means have proper conversations, get to know people as people, ask questions, understand what goes on in their function, learn their language, their needs, constraints, where they are heading. Watch the video here - (the longer version from AllDayDevOps) There are so many parallels in thinking and so much we in technology can learn from the other functions.
This approach builds trust, mutual respect and understanding, rather than the mind set of ‘breaking down barriers’, ‘educating’, ‘silo busting’ or ‘problem solving’. Words have an impact. Read both those sets of words above again and notice where your thoughts go, what emotions are triggered about the other party.
Those emotions and thoughts you are experiencing will influence your next steps and whether you will head towards great collaboration (door open) or just annoy people (door closed).
2. Focus on What You Have in Common
One very practical way to get to know people in other business functions is to take some time out to step back and look at one of the end-to-end value streams that you are all a part of. If you haven’t done this before, read this from Ranger4 on Value Stream Mapping.
Value Stream Mapping involves going up in the helicopter, to the level above individual processes, and talking through who is involved in each step, how long each step takes, what delays there may be in between each step, how many cross-team hand-offs and dependencies, what interconnected processes. Think also about financial and time investment from each function. Who owns what? Who is risking what? What controls, decisions made, by whom? What is the effect of all of these on the quality of the specific product or service and speed of delivery?
In a very short time, you will get a really good appreciation of each others’ work and of each other. This approach helps you to - jointly - identify where the blocks and complexities are. From here you can move to working together on removing those blocks in the jointly ‘owned’ value stream. This is a far more effective way of engaging than a presentation deck, listing the problems. You are doing real analytical and practical work, together. Thinking more strategically about your own function and learning more about the wider organisation.
3. Learn a New Language
Making the case for more agile ways of working, such as moving to a multifunctional team approach for example, capacity funding, or umbrella contracts take some explaining. There are risks perceived by all and many vested interests. We need to find the right words, tell a good story, to really illustrate how those risks are actually reduced and interests served better by the new ways of working. What do HR see as the risks and opportunities? Sales? Marketing? Finance? Procurement? Read just a few articles or blogs from each of these functions and you will see how they frame their hopes and frustrations around agile ways. Here are three links to get you started:
In HR for example, look at how HR equate being agile with a high level of maturity and what measures that matter to them. What do you have in common?
In Finance: conversations about agile transformation: in Finance Monthly, exploring how Finance can enable wider organisational agility. What thinking do you share?
In Procurement: likewise. An honest assessment by the CIPS of where procurement practices have hindered in the past and how procurement can actually help with organisational agility.
Notice the language used, the ambitions, the drivers and what you have in common. Now include those in your approach to making friends.
If you would like to learn the Ranger4 approach to Value Stream Mapping that includes your new friends in the other functions, join us for the 2-day DevOps Leader Course 4th & 5th December 2019 in London.