Intermezzo to incubate the story

Published on Thursday, January 2nd 2020


It's time to wrap up at the beginning of 2020 and incubate the story before we continue and achieve a turnaround of the 75% average failure into 75% worldwide succeeded digital initiatives.

Chapter 1. Digital Transformation is a never-ending story

When starting to think about Digital Transformation we often forget that we have already been in it since we started using the first hand calculator. Today many old organisations seem stuck in old structures, old methods and outdated IT systems. Digital transformation is urgently needed and requires a new management style that leaves no room for plans that are etched in stone. Innovation is done by cycling, step by step while learning from small mistakes and adjusting whenever necessary. Ongoing successful Digital Transformation is more about a state of mind than about the state of digital technology. Without the right attitude and intention we will unfortunately be faced with many limitations and poor success rates. The problem of gaining success lies in the choice of building up a culture within an organization that supports this never-ending story.

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Chapter 2. Let’s stop playing ‘billiards’ when planning for the future

When three or more particles interact, in any system, the outcome is intrinsically unpredictable. But we are reluctant to accept that, most of all in boardrooms. This is an important law of physics, more unshakeable than the Constitution, and that same law applies to making brilliant plans about digitizing within our organisations. You simply cannot predict what the ball will do when it gets to its final mission, because you have created so much movement on the green baize. You have too many uncertainties. In IT we say high dependencies or moving targets.

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Chapter 3 Look ahead and adjust, the need to start ‘cycling’!

As history taught us: revolutions “playing billiards with high dependencies” rarely last and in the long run have less impact than evolutions “cycling with low dependencies”. When we think about new initiatives, first we should start ‘cycling’ and learn to stay upright to make our organisation stronger. This means doing it intrinsically based on tacit knowledge and while being in a state of flow. At the same time we should ensure that transience is managed, so you don’t experience ‘old’ problems in the foreseeable future. It means that you are willing to constantly make steps forward in bringing together technology, people and organization in all its dimensions. Also you want the digital transformation process to perform at a pace that keeps up with the developments in the market, so that you are at least as successful as your competitors, or even the best.

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Chapter 4 Working SAFe means working in a non-existing ‘controlled environment’

For an organization only one aspect is important and that is to have a High Performance when going from A to B. Unpredictability when going from A to B is practically unacceptable for everyone. Especially in business. We refuse to think of it, and for managers in particular the automatic response is to reject it completely. We think we live in a fully causal world and we just need to create the appropriate circumstances. To debunk causality, science came up with a so-called ‘controlled environment’, presuming it is possible to overcome the effects of the three (or more) moving particles. It seems that there is no system that shows predictable behaviour.

Agile means making small steps with predictable outcome, but still it is not enough because this does not make us a high performer. But Agile tells us how to create flow by decreasing wait states (known as impediments). When we talk about the chain of activities to turn around business ideas into IT, then that’s where we really can find performance increase. Again, we need a baseline to measure it and this lies in the craft and knowledge of the sum of all production activities. We are talking about the sum of many small details all together delivering substantive output. This is what we call Theory of Constraints (ToC), which turns out to be a great success factor within Agile

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Chapter 5 Why being Agile can not be achieved without starting to Cycle

What we do know is that the cycling system --cyclist plus bicycle -- becomes better at it by doing it. The system seems to be antifragile because it learns from little mistakes and becomes more accurate and stronger over time, and therefore performance increases. Tacit knowledge is built up implicitly during cycling and it grows when you tackle bigger challenges. The funny thing is that a human does not need to think about how to get better at it because it just happens while doing it. As a result an experienced cyclist can jump on a bike and ride off immediately. When cycling, you can look ahead far enough to have overview and at the same time gain new insights in how to deliver a better or even high performance. And while looking ahead you are just fast enough to adapt to small variations and learn without cycling into a deep pothole. Being Agile can therefore only be done by behaving like a cyclist and producing IT through knowledge-based production with freedom of making many small mistakes to support evolution in the production chain. We all know that knowledge and craft is developed when performing production activities. When producing IT together with a great team under great circumstances without too much waiting, we achieve the ultimate state of flow resulting in a high performance.

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Chapter 6 Solve incubated negativity about past performance to assure results in the future

Digital transformation starts with social innovation, where all the pain within the organization is first brought to light. We apologize to each other for the mistakes made in the past, make a deep bow, and close that chapter.

After a long period of disappointment or without positive change, all digital oxygen within an organization has vanished. Luckily a rising star looms on the horizon. The door of the boardroom opens and a manager walks in with neatly shaved and oiled legs and a race bike on his shoulder. From today, my dearest colleagues, we will leave the past behind us and start cycling. Before we can start cycling we need to leave our past behind us and also the fear of falling. Suffering from our past is disastrous for the chance of a better result in the future.

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Chapter 7 Without great positioning as a prerequisite we will not achieve a high performance

Organizational positioning points to focus on before we start with continuous Digital Transformation.

  • Collaboration principles, as this is a start for the necessary social innovation to be able to transform.
  • Your governance: this should support creating flow in organizing work within the organization.
  • An IT production process ‘From Idea to IT’, based on architectural thinking throughout the complete life cycle of your IT landscape, should be in place to continuously deliver business impact.
  • Your technology should be able to adapt to changing requirements and transience should be managed.
  • Your Infrastructure should support operational excellence.

These five points need to be designed in such a way that they facilitate the fastest way to bring an Idea (input) to IT (output) within the organization. In terms of cycling, it means cycling from A to B via the shortest route. This while it meets the highest possible performance, with technical depth and at the highest quality requirements. In the next five chapters is explaiend how these positioning points need to be designed to have a great start and how we adjust them while continuing to cycle

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Chapter 8 Eleven collaboration principles for greater success when entering your digital transformation

In order to become a high performer in conducting a digital transformation you should start investing in social innovation. This means working based on collaboration principles to evolutionary implement agile behaviour throughout the whole organisation.

A digital transformation is a complex matter. It means working together on a common cause that is very complex for most people. To raise the odds of actually achieving this cause, ‘Cycle to Accelerate’ constituted eleven collaboration principles. When we uphold these principles when working on the transformation, we might actually reach our destination –cycling of course -- without nose diving into a canyon.

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Chapter 9 A Digital Transformation needs flow through organisational and substantive governance

Managers who decide to start cycling and build up this capability, will find out this is also a knowledgeable sport but with the big difference that gaining knowledge happens by starting and keeping on cycling. It is an antifragile system in which you learn automatically about little errors while conducting the sport. Talent helps, and great preparation and the right bike fit for purpose do too.

To ensure success in becoming a high performer, all managers in our boardrooms should start managing their enterprises in a cycling way. But without knowing what they should focus on they might feel lost.

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Chapter 10 A Digital Transformation needs flow through substantive governance

Digital Transformation is all about understanding each other in what the expected and perceived value of an organized household is.Understanding how we achieve this state and how to maintain it means that we are collaborating based on a mutual (sometimes unconscious) agreed structure and way of work. When we achieve this organized state in which we can perform with ease, it will give an enlightening feeling which we call flow.

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Chapter 11 A Digital Transformation needs flow through organisational governance

The biggest performance increase within an organisation can be made in the way we organise our work and the way we make decisions. Both are invoked by great leadership. Over the years we found out the organisational model we choose has no impact if the right example is not set by our top-level managers

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Up next:

Chapter 12 about an IT production process ‘From Idea to IT’, based on architectural thinking throughout the complete life cycle of your IT landscape, should be in place to continuously deliver business impact.