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By Mike Richardson, Team Agility Practice Leader
In the last month we have heard two expressions from Ford which get the heart of Agility:
  • "Clock-Speed":  "We need to speed up our decision making ... the clock-speed of our competitors requires us to make decisions at a faster pace. If we're going to win in this new world, we need to break down the hierarchy, and we have to empower the team. We have to move fast, and we have to trust our people to move fast" (Bill Ford ... at the video press conference in which he announced the departure of Mark Fields as CEO of Ford and introduced the new CEO, Jim Hackett - Read More: Agile Firing - Bill Ford Explains the Why Behind Mark Fields Departure as CEO of Ford)
  • "Shot-Clock":  "Ford Co.'s new chief executive is enforcing a "shot clock" on lingering decisions at the auto maker to implement plans faster and regain competitive footing in vital segments of the car business.  CEO Jim Hackett, speaking to analysts this week, rolled out the shot-clock idea-borrowing from a rule employed in basketball to quicken the pace of the game-as part of his agenda for the first 100 days in his new job.  Mr. Hackett, who succeeded Mark Fields at the helm in May, spoke Thursday with Wall Street analysts, the first such meeting for Ford's new chief as he confronts an underperforming stock price.  The company has been widely criticized for appearing indecisive on important technology bets, including self-driving cars or electric vehicles. (Wall Street Journal: Ford CEO: Decision-Making "Shot Clock"™ Needed to Accelerate Plans)
These two associated expressions are at the heart of an mindset for revving up the tempo of agile decision-making. They are embedded in the Agile mantra that Time is Fixed, Task is Variable (take the best shot you can in the time available),  embedded in Agile methodologies with Sprints and Scrums.  These assert a clock-speed/shot-clock tempo on decision-making and goal achievement (make the best decision you can and achieve the best goal you can in the time available).  Contrast that with the traditional mindset of Task is Fixed, Time is Variable (take as much time as you need to take the perfect shot).  Read more at Waterfall vs Agile/Sprints/Scrum - Pivoting to the future of Agile-Teamwork 

How do we embed the ideas of clock-speed and shot-clock into a business?  Agile Meetings.  Read More:  Agile Meetings ... are at the heart of your Enterprise Agility!

by Nick Horney, Ph.D., Leadership Agility Practice Leader

The OODA Loop

The OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) is a model that was created by USAF Col. John Boyd. It was originally designed for Korean-era fighter pilots as a way to understand conflict and provide military leaders with a model or method for making decisions and assessing their impact.

The execution of the decision making process may be viewed as cycling through the four distinctive but interdependent stages: 1) OBSERVATION, or absorbing information from the environment by all possible means; 2) ORIENTATION, or placing this information into a matrix of human understanding and experience; 3) DECISION, or selecting a subsequent course of action based upon the likelihood of either offensive achievement or defensive nullification; and 4) ACTION, or attempting to operationalize or carry out the previously conceived decision. Collectively, these stages have come to be known as an OODA loop.

The OODA loop depends on tactical and strategic agility.  We must not only move faster than our competitors; we must also think faster than them. A streamlined view of leadership, team or organizational agility in the information age is the combination of being focused, fast and flexible .  To adapt and thrive with all of the VUCA disruptions in the marketplace (e.g., robotics, globalization, artificial intelligence, the Gig Economy, etc.) change readiness requires mental and physical agility in both planning and execution. In any competitive environment, the leader, team or organization that can consistently and effectively cycle through the OODA process faster - that is, can maintain a higher tempo of focused and flexible actions than others, gains an ever-increasing advantage with each cycle. With each iteration, the slower competitor falls further behind and becomes increasingly unable to cope with the continuously deteriorating situation.

By Tom O'Shea, CMC, Organizational Agility Practice Leader

Whew!  The past seven months has been a pretty chaotic time in Washington  and across the globe with almost more dramatic episodes of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) than we can count.  I am pretty sure that the Hollywood screenplay writers and reality TV show producers have more material than they can use for several seasons.  If the potential consequences and implications of this global VUCA vortex were not so daunting with somewhat impetuous leaders in North Korea, Russia and beyond - one might imagine a surreal, Sci-Fi-tinged spy thriller coming to theaters in early 2018.  Let's hope it does not continue to play out with that kind of drama.

VUCA is that term coined at the US Army War College in the late 1990's  and is precisely descriptive of the global operating context.  The reality is that there are "layers" of VUCA operating all the time. For example, the Global VUCA layer has its dynamics, consequences, influences and implications - so does your Regional and Local VUCA spheres.  This is intrinsically part of the VUCA vortex and adds to the total complexity factor that leaders and organizations must encounter and navigate.
There is another very impactful dimension to the VUCA equation - your "INTERNAL" VUCA! As we work with clients around the world, we often see significant amounts of VUCA created INSIDE the organization that compounds and exasperates the EXTERNAL VUCA factors - creating a HYPER-VUCA condition ... CHAOS indeed.  Sometimes these internal VUCA factors are deep-seeded in the organization's culture and can range from hard-riveted silos, steadfast holding onto "the way we have always done it" stubbornness, inadequate and often inaccurate information platforms or aberrant leadership behavior demeaning organizational spirit and values.  

By Ben Baran, Ph.D. , Agility Analytics Practice Leader

I worry about many companies that are starting to use scrum for project management or product development. 

Note: You may already know this, but scrum is a team-based methodology for solving complex problems. It's based upon a highly transparent and visible workflow, and it relies heavily upon the candid use of evidence to experiment and iterate. A full discussion of scrum is beyond the scope of this post; click here for an overview. 

I worry not because scrum doesn't work. It surely can, and when done right, it can be a highly invigorating and effective process for all involved. 

I worry about companies that are starting to use scrum for two reasons:

First, some companies try to introduce scrum without guidance from someone who has been there and done that.  Regardless of the intelligence of the team members, it's exceedingly difficult to "do scrum" void of firsthand experience. It's simply too different from the status quo for the vast majority of people to really "get" from only reading about it. Great companies with great leaders-like a current manufacturing client working with me and my world-class partners   Mike Richardson  and   Chris Everett -understand this and get the coaching and support necessary to make the transition to scrum. Everett puts it this way, "You can read a ton about boxing, but that's not going to help you a whole lot in the ring." 

Second, and perhaps even more commonly, many companies introduce scrum without sufficient understanding among top management about how their own behavior must change to support scrum and overall organizational agility.  This is the top of what Richardson calls the "T-shaped" approach to agility. The horizontal part of the "T" is all about executive processes and behaviors, with the verticals (there can and should be more than one) being core business processes. Those executive processes and behaviors at the top of the "T"-either intentional or unintentional-can become a "Death Star" aimed at the verdant, energized world created by the new scrum team. 

Agility Consulting Affiliate Corner

We are proud to announce that   TidalShift  has become a new Global Agility Consulting Affiliate with headquarters in Toronto, Canada.  TidalShift is one of the largest learning and development firms in Canada since its origins in 1991.  We are currently exploring how best to offer the products and services of Agility Consulting as public seminars (e.g., Leadership Agility Seminars) and custom solutions for current clients in the TidalShift portfolio in Canada as well as in the U.S.  The whitepaper, found in the link below, provides a good overview of how Agility Consulting products and services can add value to the services offered by TidalShift.   

Creating Agility in a VUCA World!


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