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Factors of Top Performing Businesses

In order of biggest influence (biggest first):

  1. Luck.
  2. Graft a.k.a. criminality.
  3. Unethical practices.
  4. Rape of the planet.
  5. Friends in high places.
  6. Effective shared assumptions and beliefs.

Luck

Most entrepreneurs admit that their success is largely down to luck. Being in the right place at the right time, and so on.

Graft

Criminal enterprises such as Enron or Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities are widely known. Graft on relatively smaller scales is widespread as a business strategy or tactic.

Unethical practices

Unethical practices such as stealing from employees, explotation of employees or customers, rape of pension funds, unethical marketing practices, and so on are so widespread as to be common practice.

Rape of the planet

Many businesses inflate their profits through appropriation of natural resources (water, forests, carbon deposits, minerals, etc.).

Friends In high places

Favourable treatment by e.g. regulators or legislators can lead to increased profits, revenues, etc., if you know the right people from whom or via whom to secure such favours.

Effective shared assumptions and beliefs

Way down at the bottom of my list is actually running the business effectively. Little wonder then that all the other options listed here seem much more common as strategies for “success”.

Most of the options listed here reside more or less outside the control of the businesses in question. Luck is rarely in the control of the protagonists. Graft risks prosecution and sanctions such as jail. Unethical practices risk alienating customers. Rape of the planet risks alienating society, more than ever nowadays. Friends in high places relies on having such friends, and avoiding scrutiny of such relationships.

Only the last option in the list confers some degree of integrity. But then when did integrity ever count for much in business?

– Bob

Almost everybody complains about the inanities and insanities of organisational life. The inanities and insanities of their organisation. And yet, nobody seems to want to do anything about it.

Where do these inanities and insanities come from? What are the causes? If we can understand the causes, perhaps we CAN do something about them?

This is an underlying premise of Organisational Psychotherapy. OP posits the cause to be the collective assumptions and beliefs of the organisation. And the remedy? Surfacing those assumptions and beliefs and providing everyone, collectively, with opportunites to reflect on them.

Are you piqued by your organisation’s inanities and insanities? How do they detract from your aims, ambitions and success? Would you be interesting in looking into a remedy?

The Future Of Software Delivery

Are you curious about how software will get written and delivered in the future? When all the Agile malarkey has faded away?

About your career and what skills and abilities will be in demand in a few years’ time?

Take a look at my book “Quintessence“ for a detailed road map of what the future of software delivery looks like.

My book “Memeology” describes in detail how organisations can make this future theirs, starting today.

And “Hearts Over DIamonds” sets out the foundations for Organisational Psychotherapy – the core principles for our Quintessential future.

Or read the whole series, and get a deep understanding of the role of Organisational Psychotherapy in businesses of the future.

– Bob

Further Reading

Marshall, R.W. (2021). Quintessence: An Acme for Software Development Organisations. [online] leanpub.com. Falling Blossoms (LeanPub). Available at: https://leanpub.com/quintessence/ [Accessed 12 Jun 2022].
Marshall, R.W. (2021). Memeology: Surfacing And Reflecting On The Organisation’s Collective Assumptions And Beliefs. [online] leanpub.com. Falling Blossoms (LeanPub). Available at: https://leanpub.com/memeology/ [Accessed 12 Jun 2022].
Marshall, R.W. (2018). Hearts over Diamonds: Serving Business and Society Through Organisational Psychotherapy. [online] leanpub.comFalling Blossoms (LeanPub). Available at: https://leanpub.com/heartsoverdiamonds/ [Accessed 12 Jun 2022].

The #NoSoftware Option

One of the many things that distinguishes The Quintessential Group from the Software Delivery also-rans is that our Quintessential Teams service provides our clients and prospective clients with a #NoSoftware option. John Seddon and his company, Vanguard Consulting, advise deferring software automation of new business processes and process steps at least until those steps have been trialed and proven through manual implementations – Post-its, paper-based processes, manual steps, etc. For those organisations that buy into this perspective, our #NoSoftware option means our teams will deliver these non-software solutions quickly and cheaply.

Also known as “software last”, a #NoSoftware solution is one that minimises the amount of software in a solution – in particular minimising the amount of custom-written software – ideally to the exclusion of software from the solution entirely.

As Steve Jobs famously said:

The way you get programmer productivity is not by increasing the lines of code per programmer per day. That doesn’t work. The way you get programmer productivity is by eliminating lines of code you have to write. The line of code that’s the fastest to write, that never breaks, that doesn’t need maintenance, is the line you never had to write.

~ Steve Jobs

The Benefits of #NoSoftware

  • Less maintenance overhead

The fewer lines of code in any given solution, the less needs to be spent on keeping that code up to date in line with e.g. changing requirements and discovered defects.

  • More flexibility

Did you know that the term “software” was first coined back in the 1950’s to reflect the idea that software could be changed more easily, quickly and at lower cost than the hardware solutions that then predominated? It was supposedly easier to change a line of code than to reroute traces on a PCB, or swap out soldered components. Nice wishful thinking, but it hasn’t turned out that way. Software is notoriously expensive, inflexible and difficult to change. Less software means increased flexibility and business agility.

  • Savings on up-front costs

Software costs money to write, even before it goes into service. Not only to pay for ever more expensive programmers and their friends, but also the opportunity costs of having to wait for the software to be ready to deploy. In most organisations this can mean months or even years of waiting.

  • Minimal automation

When a new business process or process step is implemented, it’s rare for the implementors to fully understand what’s needed, and to anticipated the unintended consequences of their choices. Premature automation can lock in inappropriate or suboptimal design choices. Once a process or process step has been up and running live in a manual form for some time, it’s generally easier to see where (limited) application of software-enabled automation may bring benefits. Hence “software last”.

  • Try before you buy

Use a #NoSoftware solution live in your business to prove your process or process steps to trial the solution before committing to implementing a software-based solution. You may actually find that a software-based solution is in fact unnecessary, or can be much more limited in scope – and cost – than originally imagined.

Attending To Folks’ Needs

Implicit in the idea of #NoSoftware is the imperativeb of attending to folks’ needs – the primary focus of The Quintessential Group. Generally speaking, folks have little need for software per se. As the old adage goes; folks don’t need a 1/4″ drill so much as they need a 1/4″ hole. When considering the means for attending to – and meeting – folks’ needs, software is often the default, but rarely the optimal means.

Chat More?

We’d be delighted to discuss the idea of our #NoSoftware solution option and how it will be suitable for your business or organisation. Curious? Please get in touch.

– Bob

Further Reading

Seddon, J. (2019). Beyond Command And Control. Vanguard Consulting.

Celebrate With Us And Receive A Free Copy Of Quintessence!

QuintessenceCover

To celebrate the launch of The Quintessential Group, our new software delivery startup, we’re making copies of my most recent book “Quintessence” – free for just one week <- coupon link. A $35.99 value! (And worth many more $$$ when applied).

If you’ve been curious about what’s the next big thing in the world of CKW (collaborative knowledge work) in general, and Software Delivery in particular, it’s all mapped out in detail in Quintessence. 

Whether you’re a developer looking for revolutionary ways of working (we choose rather to call it playing – and we’re inviting applications) or a business person looking to solve the software delivery crisis in your own organisation, there are many awesome things in the book for you.

Tell your friends, peers, teammates, co-workers and higher-ups. This is likely a one-time special offer!

– Bob

PS. I’ve just published a new version of the book (v1.5 – minor corrections and updates).

An Exec’s Guide To Achieving Mission-critical Software Delivery

Nowadays, every business is a software business. Your enterprise needs to prioritise software delivery, be that deploying off-the-shelf solutions, commissioning bespoke software development, or a mixture of both.

Digital transformation: The term has been bandied about since it was coined more than a decade ago. I think we can all agree, though, that the “use of technology to radically improve performance or reach of enterprises” really gained momentum when the COVID-19 pandemic set in.

As we remember all too well, the entire world went digital within a matter of weeks, and companies raced to fulfil the soaring consumer demand for digital products and services. In fact, according to McKinsey, global businesses accelerated the adoption of digital offerings by an average rate of seven years — in a matter of just seven months. Some companies describe how they had to enable tens of thousands of home workers in just a few days!

The same McKinsey report shows that most business leaders see society’s digital shift as permanent. JPMorgan Chase’s CEO certainly thinks the increased use of digital apps and services is here to stay. He recently announced a 26% increase to Chase’s technology budget, focusing the $12 billion investment on further growing Chase’s portfolio of digital apps and services.

Providing innovative technologies is just half the job, though. There’s a lurking problem for business leaders: They can’t afford to let the delivery and integration of software into their businesses suffer delays and poor quality.

Just one schedule slippage in a key system can cause a cascade of problems. And when one of these slippages delays the deployment or upgrade of a key app or service, companies risk disrupted revenue streams, disgruntled customers, interrupted supply chains, lost productivity and frustrated staff.

Maintaining flow of software into the business is imperative to business continuity, but ensuring a steady, reliable flow is difficult. As businesses digitally transform and move their key processes to the cloud, and consumers utilise more digital innovations, their software estate grows in scale, complexity and fragility.

Consequently, maintaining the necessary software quality and delivery schedules must be a primary business objective. While leaders traditionally farmed out these responsibilities solely to their IT departments, technology has become so critical to business success that quality and delivery schedules can no longer hide in the opaque IT silo. It must – and has – become a culture and leadership issue.

Here are five steps executives can take to start embracing software quality, predictable schedules and steady flow:

Elevate Quality To Priority #1

When considering an enterprise’s numerous priorities, executives should take stock of the critical importance of quality. Does the company employ a virtual or hybrid workforce? Does the company interact or transact with customers online? Is revenue generated from online transactions? The questions can continue based on your industry, but chances are that most modern enterprises would agree they rely on a suite of software apps and software-based services for desired business outcomes.

Given the critical nature of digital apps and services — and their ability to provide a seamless experience for customers — executives should consider creating a culture of quality as a key performance indicator. Practically speaking, executives can and should treat quality numbers similarly to sales figures or other revered business metrics. One senior leader should be held accountable to the quality metrics and deemed responsible for relentlessly scrutinising and reporting on these figures alongside the business’s other KPIs.

If executives really want to underscore the importance of quality, they can walk the talk for their workforces. Business leaders can make quality a compensation-affecting business objective, like profit or sales targets. And they can tie these quality metrics back to the bottom line.

Focus On The People

In the era of “every business is a software business,” enterprises can no longer tuck away tech talent out of sight, removed from customer interaction. In fact, they should do the exact opposite, moving software folks to the front line and making them part of the business’s core value proposition. Actively marketing a company’s tech and nerd credentials will drive confidence in the brand’s digital presence. And enhance employer branding at the same time.

Naturally, redeploying the software folks goes both ways. Executives must also show genuine trust and respect for these key people. Even without extensive technical knowledge, business leaders can provide the kind of environment, and culture, that makes teams’ lives easier by reducing the cognitive load imposed by traditional management approaches. And they can give them the freedom to use modern paradigms like DevOps and CI/CD pipelines. Software teams with respect, resources and support will have a foot up on delivering innovations and protecting the quality of their deliveries.

Treat Unceasing Innovation As Standard

As most executives know, today’s world of digital business demands continuous innovation as a minimum requirement for keeping pace with competitors. This unceasing innovation requires executives to drop risk-averse postures and embrace reinvention and the concomitant continuous change.

Of course, amidst digital innovation, reinvention and even failure, quality remains a top priority. Executives need a business culture that allows their organisation to experiment, and sometimes falter, with the least amount of negative impact. After all, stagnation is no longer an attractive option.

Open The Chequebook and Invest!

If an enterprise relies on various digital apps and services for business performance, executives should guarantee the entire software delivery pipeline is exemplary.

While only the lucky few have an extra $12 billion on hand to invest in software delivery and the associated spend, executives should advocate for a big piece of the pie to go toward technology investment. And technology investment shouldn’t stop at commissioning delivery projects. Forward-thinking enterprises invest in next-generation delivery methods like Quintessence, alongside talent, training and time to innovate.

Make Technical Know-how A Leadership Must-Have

Executives should ask themselves a simple question: does anyone on the most senior team have “SDLC” or software delivery experience in their past or even present core competencies? While leadership teams are usually stacked with impressive qualifications — CPAs, MBAs and JDs — few include software people with practical SDLC experience. But given the importance of technology, executives should surround themselves with true technology practitioners.

A chief digital officer (CDO) can become a business leader’s quality czar. With a depth of SDLC experience, this role can help executives understand and benchmark their companies’ digital performance and balance digital transformation efforts with operations management.

Following these steps sends a clear message both internally and externally: innovating is no longer enough — changing the culture to remove the shackles of outmoded assumptions and beliefs is also necessary. If executives want to maximize their digital investments and thrive in a digital-first world, they must embrace quality and the culture that enables it.

– Bob

As a manager, what’s more important to you? The nature of your present role, or the success of the company?

Put another way: If the ongoing success of the company required your role to change, would you support or resist that change? Can you even talk franklly about the issue?

 

Management, Net-Net

I’ve written some number of posts already describing the incompatibilities between traditonal, hierarchical, command-and-control management (THCM)  and collaborative knowledge work (CKW). I’ve written that we can have one or the other, but not both.

I note the absence of any signs that THCM is being scrutinised anew – excepting from a few quarters such as Prof Gary Hamel with Humanocracy, and Frederic Laloux with Reinventing Organisations. Even though effective CKW becomes ever more widespread. Not to mention essential to businesses and society both.

Let’s assume for the sake of this partticular post that THCM afforts organisations and societies some real benefits. I personally have my doubts. but lets go with it. Similarly, let’s also assume that CKW also affors some real benefits. For what it’s worth you can probably guess my personal take on that assumption.

The Economic Question

So here’s the (economic*) question: Which affords the greater benefits to organisations: THCM or CKW, net-net?

If we geared how organisationa are run in line with optimising for effective CKW – which would mean downplaying, replacing or abandoning THCM – would these organisations be better off, produce better (finanical, social, etc.) results?

Conversely, does THCM – with the inevitable negative consequences for effective CKW, result in higher profits, margins, and other measures of success (financial and otherwise)?

I’d love to hear your take on this question.

– Bob

*This question kinda assumes organisations are primarily economic entities with success measured in financial and economic terms. I suggest this is actually just a big lie.

We’re NOT Hiring!

At The Quintessential Group we’re NOT hiring. We have little interest in paying people for their labour or their personal services (fnarr).

We ARE inviting inquiries and applications to join our community of fellows, and participate in our software delivery teams.

Sure, we pay. And we pay top dollar (well British Pounds, mostly). But we pay our people so they can live (and fellows get to choose their own salaries and rates, amongst other things). We subscribe to Phil Crosby’s statement about the purpose of organisations:

The purpose of organizations is to help people have lives.

~ Phil Crosby

Fellowship

We’re breaking the transactional nature of the individual <-> organisation relationship in favour of something much more like fellowship.

So, we’re NOT hiring. But we ARE inviting applications to join our community of fellows. First off for our Quintessential Teams service. And then for our other services, which will be coming on stream soon.

Invitation

We cordially invite you to apply to join our community of fellows. In the first instance, we’re looking for folks with software delivery skills, who will be forming delivery teams rented by our clients (a variety of medium to large UK organisations) to deliver software at their behest. Early on, you’ll be playing and learning directly with myself and / or Ian.

Just drop Ian or myself a message expressing your curiosity or interest, and we’ll get back to you.

You may already have some questions, so please include them if you’re after some clarification or further information. There’s much already available on my Think Different blog. And a brief but growing collection of more focussed introductory and informational posts on the Quintessential Blog, too.

Benefits

What you may not have yet read is some of the other benefits of becoming a fellow of The Quintessential Group:

Having Your Needs Met

Central to our business and community is the idea of attending to folks’ needs. Each of our fellows will have his or her own needs, and The Quintessential Group will do its utmost to see those needs met. 

These may include career development, learning, autonomy to capitalise on your abilities, mastery of skills, sharing in a common purpose, playing with technology, work-life balance, choosing your own package, and so on. We’d love to hear just what your needs are. And we as a business have needs too. This mutuality offers a crucible for productive dialogue.

The Opportunity To Do Great Things

We focus on excellence, and carefully select clients with and for whom our fellows can achieve truly great things. Humdrum things bore us, and we’d not ask any of our fellows to suffer that either.

The Opportunity To Participate in Self-Managing Teams

Our Teams manage themselves, with the active support of the rest of the company. Learn and experience what participating in truly self-managing teams feels like. The true meaning of esprit de corps. The experience of excellence and real fellowship.

Other Key Benefits

Unlimited World-class Personal Mentoring

Bob and Ian each have more than twenty years’ experience in coaching and mentoring developers and delivery teams. We happily share this experience with all Quintessential Fellows, on a one to one basis (mentoring, individual coaching) and one-to-many basis (i.e. teams).

Unlimited Expert Coaching

We define mentoring as providing sage advice when asked. Coaching to us implies a more structure relationship. See e.g. “Coaching for Performance” by Sir Jon Whitmore and his G.R.O.W. model. Mentoring also implies, to us, a shared agenda. Coaching, an agenda entirely driven by the coachees.

Unlimited Awesome Career Development, Including Job Search Help & Career Advice

We try to attend to the needs of all our fellows, on a continual basis. If being a part of the Quintessential community is not meeting your needs, we’re delighted when we can help folks get their needs met, even when that means leaving us for pastures new. We’re delighted to actively support folks in this.

Free Books And Subscriptions

Continuous learning is at the core of the Quintessential Group and its community of fellows. We support these needs in any and all ways possible, including paying for all books and subscriptions of our fellows. If you have other learning needs, we’re happy to support those, too.

Paid Time Off For Conferencing (Plus Entry Fees, Expenses Paid)

We don’t believe our fellows should suffer a financial disincentive to pursue their learning and socialising needs, so we pay for time taken to attend conferences, as well as for the entry fees and associated expenses (travel, hotels, etc.).

Paid Time Off For Learning, Studying

Many folks learn for the joy of it, but we don’t see why learning has to be on the learner’s dime So we invite our fellows to invoice us or otherwise claim financial recompense for time spent learning. Effective learning benefits everyone, not least the company.

Development Hardware, Tools

Many new fellows will already have their own equipment, software tools, etc. But when they need other stuff to be quintessentially effective, we have no issue with providing such things, as the fellow(s) see fit.

Note: A Quintessential fellow is anyone (irrespective of gender) who has complete the one-week orientation and chosen to join the Quintessential community.

Note: When we say “paid for” we mean The Quintessential Group will reimburse fellows in the course of invoicing in respect of client gigs. In other words, and using the one week’s paid-for orientation as an example, we will pay fellows for attending the orientation week, over the course of several weeks’ payments for participating in services to a client.

Accepting Inquiries and Applications

We are now accepting inquiries and applications for the first “orientation” cohort of Quintessential Teams

Orientation

Simply put, we pay our candidate fellows to join together for a week (five days) of orientation. This week prepares fellows for Quintessential Team client engagements, in particular is afford the opportunity to get to know each other, build relationships, and thrash out a shared way of playing together.

Would you like to know more?

– Bob

First Step Towards Quintessence

Taking a look at the idea of Quintessence can seem overwhelmingly daunting. Changing the culture of a whole organisation? Shifting assumptions and beliefs of an entire workforce, managers and executives included? Wow. Some herculean task?

Formidable Challenge

The challenge can seem truly formidable. Yet the benefits look appealing. 

How to take that first step? What is the most useful and reassuring first step?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

~ Lao Tzu

Surfacing And Reflecting

The clue is on the cover of my second book, “Memeology“. The subtitle reads

Surfacing and reflecting on the organisation’s collective assumptions and beliefs.

I find a useful first step is talking with peers. And listening to what they have to say. Discovering if there’s an appetite for such surfacing and reflecting. Uncovering their challenges of the moment, and sounding out potential allies. Persuasion comes later, if at all.

The status quo has a powerful grip on busy people. It’s easy to dismiss calls for change in the midst of daily stressors such as fire-fighting and chasing targets.

Timbre

What’s the timbre of dialogue in your organisation? Progressive or regressive? Inviting or dismissive? What timbre might best suit the kinds of dialogue implied by Quintessence? How might y’all affect that timbre? And could you use some help with that?

Chatting Is The First Step

To recap – simple chatting with friends, neighbours, peers and colleagues can be the vital first step. And “Alien Tech” can sometimes serve as an icebreaker, if you feel you need one.

– Bob

 

Alien Tech: What Is It?

powertech

Alien tech power at one’s fingertips

At The Quintessential Group, our motto is “Alien Tech for Human Beings”.

What do we mean by “Alien Tech”?

Dictionary Definitions

Let’s take a look at the dictionary:

Technology noun
\ tech·​nol·​o·​gy | \ tek-ˈnä-lə-jē \

Definition of technology

  1. a: The practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area
    // medical technology
    b: A capability given by the practical application of knowledge
    // a car’s fuel-saving technology
  2. A manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge
    // new technologies for information storage
  3. The specialised aspects of a particular field of endeavour
    // educational technology

Alien adjective
\ ˈā-lē-ən, ˈāl-yən \

Definition of alien

  1. a: Belonging or relating to another person, place, or thing: Strange
    // an alien environment
    b:Relating, belonging, or owing allegiance to another country or government: Foreign
    // alien residents
    c: [Exotic sense]
    // alien plants
    d: Coming from another world: Extraterrestrial
    // alien beings
    // an alien spaceship
    // When it comes to knowing what alien life forms might be like, we don’t have any idea
    ~ Kate Shuster
  2. Differing in nature or character typically to the point of incompatibility
    // ideas alien to democracy

Our Definitions

So, by the above dictionary definitions, we can define “Alien Tech” (Alien Technology) as:

capability given by the practical application of knowledge, where that knowledge is strange, or seeming as if coming from another world.

Put another way, and closer to our quintessential usage:

An approach to running collaborative knowledge work businesses that differs in nature or character from the norm, typically to the point of incompatibility.

When it comes to relating to alien ideas, most folks just don’t know where to start.

~ FlowChainSensei

In Practice

What does “Alien Tech” mean in practice?

It means running a business, in our caseThe Quintessential Group, based on assumptions and beliefs incompatible with typical businesses. Assumptions and beliefs which lead to levels of software delivery excellence unobtainable by other means. We attend to folks’s needs in ways totally alien to those immersed in traditonal management mythos. For those clients that judge by results, this is little more than a curiousity, until the question of “how do they do that?” comes up.

– Bob

Further Reading

Marshall, R. W. (2015). Aliens. [online] Think Different. Available at: https://flowchainsensei.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/aliens/ [Accessed 8 May 2022].
Marshall, R. W. (2018). Alien Tech Alien Tropes. [online] Think Different. Available at: https://flowchainsensei.wordpress.com/2018/08/28/alien-tech-alien-tropes/ [Accessed 8 May 2022].
Marshall, R. W. (2018). Some Alien Tropes. [online] Think Different. Available at: https://flowchainsensei.wordpress.com/2018/09/04/some-alien-tropes/ [Accessed 8 May 2022].

Why Value Streams?

Just Another Way of Dividing A Whole Into Parts?

Are value streams just one more way of dividing a whole organisation into parts? Isn’t “division into parts” a hallmark and defining characteristic of the Analytic mindset? And something we’re trying to avoid in pursuit of the Synergistic ideals presented in Quintessence? 

As the inimitable Russell L. Ackoff says:

A system is more than the sum of its parts; it is an indivisible whole. It loses its essential properties when it is taken apart. The elements of a system may themselves be systems, and every system may be part of a larger system.

~ Russell L. Ackoff

The Structure Of The Moment

At The Quintessential Group, we’ve chosen value streams as the structure of the moment. Not as a mean to subdivide the Group into parts, but as an experiment, as a way to encourage synergies within the whole. Our hypothesis is that by divorcing hierarchy from structure, we create an environment better suited to serving the needs of the Folks That Matter™.

We are concerned with total systems performance, and the relationships between the parts (value streams) much more than managing each part, each value stream, separately. In fact, the “management” of each part is pretty much irrelevant and not something we’ll be spending time on.

Even The Quintessential Group as a whole is part of larger, or containing, systems. We may choose to see the Group, and its value streams, as holons, as holarchies. As stable intermediate forms. See: The Parable of the Two Watchmakers.

Borrowing from the language of Arthur Koestler, a value stream serves as a subsystem within the larger system: We can regard it as an evolving, self-organizing structure while simultaneously a part of a greater system composed of other value streams i.e The Quintessential Group.

Enough With The Philosophy Already

So, what practical benefits do we foresee from the value stream approach?

  • More coherent (less fragmented) experience for clients.
  • Improved flow of value.
  • Increased synergies resulting in a more effective organisation and thus affording an improved customer experience.
  • Reduction in delays, wastes, and non-value-adding activities.
  • Improvements in takt time and smoothness of value flow.

How do you feel about value streams as e.g. a structuring approach for organisations?

– Bob

 

Implementing Prod•gnosis

One pleasing aspect of our new startup – The Quintessential Group, is the opportunity to implement Prod•gnosis.

We’re intent on building an organisation (the Group) along value stream lines. With a separate value stream for each market we serve. In mooted order of instantiation:

    • Quintessential Teams (rent a gelled team by e.g. the fortnight)
    • Quintessential Recruiting (we source Quintessential people)
    • Quintessential Worx / Works (commission us to build the solutions you need)
    • Quintessential Culture Shift (Digital Transformations, Culture Change, etc.)
    • Quintessential Memes (meme exploration and installation services)
    • Quintessential People (serving clients’ HR function)
    • Quintessential Academy (training in all things Organisational Psychotherapy and Quintessential)
    • Quintessential Coaches (organisational coaches for rent)
    • Quintessential Mentors (personal mentors for rent)
    • Quintessential Tutors (personal tutors for rent)

PDVS

So, naturally – naturally for a value-stream based organisation anyways – we’re building the “product development value stream” first, albeit incrementally and in parallel with the first operational value stream i.e. Quintessential Teams. Eating our own dog food, you might say.

We’ll keep you posted on progress.

You can :

– Bob

Further Reading

Marshall, R. (2014). Product Development 101. [online] Think Different. Available at: https://flowchainsensei.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/product-development-101/ [Accessed 1 May 2022].

How To Run A Collaborative Knowledge Work Business

Collaborative knowledge work (CKW) is not like other kinds of work. And few realise this. Even fewer realise that CKW necessitates a kind of “management” entirely different from traditional management. So different as to be unrecognisable as “management”. 

As the world transitions to CKW as its predominant style of work, this realisation is spreading. And the ensuing confusion and distress spreads also. We see this already.

The Priorities for CKW

  1. Avoiding Cognitive Impairment

CKW involves, primarily, the use of folks’ brains. A.k.a. Cognition or cognitive function. Organisations that cultivate an environment conducive to CKW and “brain-work” are, however, few and far between. Much more often, environment-induced cognitive impairment is the order of the day, every day.

  1. Interpersonal Relationships

The second key aspect of CKW is the collaborative nature of the work. CKW involves folks working together to achieve shared goals.Thus, interpersonal relationships become paramount.

  1. Play

So, how to cultivate an environment conducive to cognitive function and relationship-building? I have found that play best enables and supported these things. Whereas in the above paragraphs I have used the word “work”, we’re better off when we substitute the idea of “play”. Can you see the connection between improved cognitive function and relationship-building, and play?

Aside: We can take some of the sharp edges off the unconscionable idea of encouraging “workers” to play on the company dime by using the term “serious play”. By justifying it as a key to innovation. And by further obfuscating the idea of free play by calling it “simulation” or “gamification”. But that’s only candy-coating.

At The Quintessential Group we’re putting this all into practice, as we did with great success decades ago at Familiar. We’d be delighted to share our insights, approaches, learnings and experiences with you, should you be interested.

– Bob

Further Reading

Schrage, M. (2008). Serious Play: How The World’s Best Companies Simulate To Innovate. Harvard Business School Press.

Five Whys

Not Five Whys as in the approach to root cause(s) analysis as attributed to e.g. Toyota.

But Five Whys which illuminate the issues within the world’s typical approach to running businesses, and in particular collaborative knowledge work businesses:

  1. Why is the Software Crisis still with us?  
  2. Why is business so locked-in to centuries-old management practices?
  3. Why does the Agile community not want to move on, to progress?
  4. Why are prevailing collective assumptions and beliefs about the way work should work so ineffective and yet so hard to overturn?
  5. Why don’t people engage with these questions?

Contrary to my usual approach – providing answers – I’ll just let these questions stew for a while. I have answers. But I suggest you’re not interested in answers, nor even the questions.

– Bob

Afterword

Personally, I prefer analysing e.g. root cause(s) vie cause-effect trees such as Goldratt’s TOC tool – the Current Reality Tree (CRT). YMMV.

Specific organisational structures are irrelevant. It’s an organisation’s fluidity – the capabiliuty to morph and flow from one structure to another over time, and invent new and intermediate structures, as needs require, that’s the thing. Cf. Donella Meadows:

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