The performance of an organization results from the collaboration of the actors. Achieving Quality at Speed is directly influenced by their decisions, the features they prioritize, and the processes they define.
While organizational charts give the structure, they do not necessarily clarify the design of the actors’ collaboration. But like a city map, the value of architecture is to bring to life a set of buildings, houses and flows.
A large number of reorganizations fail, missing the point of interactions. The team name and visual boxes change, but the performance remains poor. Hence the need to focus on minimum viable collaboration when managing an organization.
This article shares the key reasons and essential elements to build an organization that can continuously deliver Quality at Speed with minimum viable collaboration:
- Large restructurations are risky as a roulette-russe
- We don’t need to involve everyone all the time
- Continuous improvement focuses on the limiting factors
- Collaboration can happen in various ways
- Look for high cohesion and loosely coupled flows
- Architecturing an organization for Quality at Speed
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Let’s start by covering the need for a lean approach.
Large restructurations are risky as a roulette-russe
A new CDO or CIO arrives. Everyone is expecting changes at the organizational level within the first three months. The organizational changes are shared during a company-wide presentation., announcing a “global restructuration”.
While the organigram is understandable, the impacts for each actor in their day-to-day action is less clear. They have a hard time answering the “What’s in it for me? What do I need to change to fit in this new model?”
Changing individual habits is already hard, requiring up to 28 days to change one. Now changing an entire organization requires a larger ecosystem to adapt their interactions.
The main issue of changing all parts at the same time is to test risky assumptions all at once. That approach leave few room for adaptations when the big boat is already en route.
We don’t need to involve everyone all the time
Thinking about these large reorganizations, why do they need to be so large in the first place? Profound and significant changes are usually the results of cumulative changes over time, not from a big-bang approach.
We could therefore challenge the company evaluation on short-term quarters. But the key message here is to decorrelate the implicit link between big results and big organizational changes.
The performance of any system is limited by a set of limiting factors. The chain-link concept illustrates that concept, where the maximum performance of an organizational chain is the one of its weakest points.
Evolving the organization for Quality at Speed therefore does not require involvingthe entire organization. Achieving transformation changes is an exercise of continuous prioritization.
Continuous improvement focuses on the limiting factors
An incremental approach focusing on the core problems brings more flexibility. A step-by-step approach forces us to prioritize based on value, an essential practice of the Lean paradigm.
Evolving an organization is not copying the model of successful companies. The limiting factors of each organization depend on its current state. Hence, the first priority is to identify the major blocking points in context.
You can’t identify limiting factors only by looking at an organizational chart. You need to assess the value creation of the different elements under which cycle-times. In fact, you are looking to assess the capability of Quality at Speed.
This exercise will let you identify the organizational areas that are limiting factors for Quality at Speed. From that point, you can locally design for minimum viable collaboration.
Collaboration can happen in various ways
Interactions take place at various levels within a system. At a macro level, we focus on the overall organizational structure, like Spotify or AWS models. We can then zoom into the actors’ collaboration model.
The first element to consider is the topology of the teams. Their structure clarifies the actors, functions and assets in scope of responsibility. We then need to choose their way to interact with other parts of the organization.
The Team Topologies model from Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais is an effective way to sum up the possibilities. Three interaction models combines with the topologies to optimize for Flow.
At that stage, we need to keep in mind the need for minimum viable interactions. In some cases, it means to isolate the complexity in a particular team. We can rely on a good architectural principle.
Look for high cohesion and loosely coupled flows
The high-cohesion and low-coupling principle is widely known in the software industry. We have more emphasis on the flow of activities to enable the delivery of Quality at Speed.
There are three core interaction modes in the Team Topologies model. The as-a-service enables to maximize the actors flow with self-service and automation. The facilitating and collaboration model help to materializes the need for specific interactions.
Looking at the scheme, our key focus is the top arrow of “Flow of change”. Whatever the organizational change we implement, it must contribute to increasing our Quality at Speed capability.
The Quality Engineering perspective enforces keeping the vision on the big picture. In the case of the organization, we must constantly look for linking the outputs with the outcomes.
Architecturing an organization for Quality at Speed
We don’t only aim for Speed, but for Quality at Speed. The survival of our organization depends on our capability to reach that point with minimum viable collaboration.
I truly believe that a performing organization is the cumulative effect of valuable and lasting changes. Thus, architecturing an organization is about integrating the need for Quality at Speed by design.
The mission of a Quality Engineering leader is to continuously drive organizational increments that increase the capability to deliver Quality at Speed. Lean, optimized and minimal efforts are what enable us to remain flexible and fast to adapt.
The most reactive and adaptive systems will survive, not the larger or slow ones. Start today to design minimum viable collaboration for being the Quality Engineering leaders of tomorrow.