Mission Director Log: Stardate 14/10 - ITSM, the Next Generation
Oct 26, 2021
‘….The MarsLander Mission Director sat listening to a presentation from BMW about their ‘agile transformation’. Why was he listening to this? What could his IT organization learn from a car company?
The board of directors of MarsLander, were calling out for ‘agility’. It seems to be their latest buzzword - alongside ‘Digital Transformation’. They don’t really know what it is but they want it. Now! Thought the Mission Director.
All of this ‘Digital disruption’ taking place and all of these ‘Emerging Technologies’ are threatening MarsLander’s position in the Market. ‘Either we become irrelevant and lose to our competitors, or we transform our capabilities, and we are NOT going to become irrelevant’insisted the chairman of the board glaring at the Mission Director and suggesting he attend this BMW presentation.
‘… A BMW high range car is made of millions of lines of software code. Over 1200 suppliers, more than 30.000 parts. A flawless car leaves the production line every 70 seconds. Next 100 year - vision: BMW expect more than half the staff to be software developers’.
The Mission director groaned. How was he going to transform his Mission control teams to be more ‘agile’? Bringing the business, development and operations teams together to ‘collaborate’, ensuring flawless, high velocity releases of software whilst maintaining safety and stability!
We had Agile, thought the mission director frowning, that didn’t work.
We added DevOps….which turned out to be more Dev than Ops. Now we are hearing about BizDevOps - having to get the business more engaged, AND Ops.
We now have to get Ops to transform from a ‘stability and control’ approach to an ‘agility with safety’ mindset, and collaborate with the rest of the organization. The frown deepened. The Mission director had read the latest State of DevOps report which, in its section on Ops, stated ‘…and now, in perhaps the biggest shift of all, the expectation is that we have people skills and can collaborate effectively with different functions’…. Groan.
End of Log:
Do you recognize these challenges in your organization?
Many IT organizations are faced with these demands for agility in this age of digital disruption. Many are struggling.
CTG brought a group senior IT leaders together in a MarsLander business simulation workshop to explore what all this ‘agile transformation’ is about. What will it mean to our workforce - to our people? What will it mean for our leadership skills and capabilities? How can we realize BizDevOps and transform the culture.
Simulating real life challenges:
In the simulation a team of delegates are immersed into the simulated environment of the Mission control center of the MarsLander mission. Playing the business, product owner, IT roles (Dev, Ops and Service management) and supplier roles, the team are faced with increasing demands for new innovative IT solutions, whilst at the same time needing to ensure availability and stability of existing (and new) products and services, AND at the same time apply new ‘agile ways of working’!
Two CTG Consultants, Eddy Peters and Jo Herroelen played the role of Mission Director, challenging the team transform, and Paul Wilkinson played the grumpy board director who kept insisting on shareholder value and who became increasingly frustrated at the inability to govern IT as there was no visibility to enable business decision making.
In the initial round the team had no end-to-end flow, business goals were mentioned but were forgotten, there were arguments about prioritization of work, about roles and responsibilities, about decision making and allocating resources. There was no visibility into the complete backlog of demands given to the team. It was unclear who was working on what and where the dependencies were. Products were being released without integrating into service management, and technical debt and SLAs were being ignored for features. The grumpy board director came in asking ‘What value are we going to realize, will we achieve our strategic goals for this round. I need to report to the shareholders?’
’Er…..we’re not sure, we’re still trying to find out where we are..!’
The System Engineer in the simulation was becoming disengaged. ‘I have had enough, everybody keeps giving me work and insisting it is the highest priority, it is unclear who does what…’, clearly showing what can happen in reality. Burn-out and disengaged people when the flow of work, priority and decision making is unclear.
Many recognized these challenges from reality! And the pressures being put on their people.
After the simulation round the team reflected on aspects relating to:
‘Connect’ (How well did we connect and collaborate?)
‘Focus’ (How well did we focus on value, and embed this end-to-end through the flow of work and decisions?) and
‘Velocity’ (Were we able to deliver flawless, fast time-to-value’?)
After Connecting (BizDevOps) and performing a retrospective, the team applied small end-to-end iterative improvements adopting concepts from agile, DevOps, Lean or ITIL4 to increase their ability to focus on delivering Value and improve the velocity and flawless flow of work.
At the end of the day we reflected with the team. ‘What was your biggest takeaway from this simulation exercise’?
Visibility is key. The need for situational awareness to enable fast, effective decision making.
Visibility into demands and types of demands (e,g. Value creating work (innovation, features), Value leakage work (issues, problems, technical debt, customer complaints) and Value improvement work (continual Improvement initiatives).
Visibility into goals and which work impacts goals
Visibility into impediments, blockers to flow and improvement needs
Visibility in resource capacity and utilization
The importance of visible business goals, what represents value? Which work contributes to value? When choices and decisions need to be about scarce resource utilization, which demands (value) are we prepared to give up, or delay? The needs business collaboration (BizDevOps).
The business needs to govern IT (ensuring boundaries and delegating decision making authorities. What are the boundaries ‘wiggle room’ in which teams can make their own decisions?).
Value Stream Mapping. This helps visualize flow and highlights differences in perception (assumptions), fosters dialogue and collaboration. VSM helps Identify areas of conflict and improvement. ‘Who really is authorized to make decisions?’, ‘How do escalations towards management layers influence delay?’, ‘How do priority mechanisms work across different teams?’, ‘How do different SILO KPI’s cause conflicts and negatively impact flow and decisions’ VSM helps create buy-in to change.
Collaboration is complex - the composition of the team and shared, agreed rules of engagement, team trust, coaching to embed new behaviors, collaboration between different teams with different values and KPI’s.
The simulation is a powerful way to demonstrate Collaboration and the need to orchestrate this (coaching, especially for immature or new teams).
All involved end-to-end teams need to be taken into account when costing (resource utilization, Service management demands, operational impact, fit with operational practices) when innovating, not just agile/DevOps and throw it into the ‘support organization’.
Agree upstream and downstream information needs. What do you NEED from me to be able to make decisions and do your work?
What was an eye opener for a number of delegates was that DevOps in their organizations is mostly Dev, and what happens at shared operational level is often out of sight and not taken into account when building new features and applications. Also the role division and conflicts between product owner and service owner were recognized challenges.
What did delegates think about the simulation experience and simulations as a way of learning?
“There’s so much to learn from this, I’m blown away. My brain is still not finished with this, and probably won’t be for days. It’s great."
“We know this stuff. And I’m in a room with people all of whom I know know this. But we just don’t apply it.”
"You’re sitting in a chair, and you can see the train wreck coming. And it comes closer. And you guys warn us it will go wrong. And still it comes closer. And again you warn and coach us. And again we ignore it. And it keeps coming. And then it hits you and things go wrong. And I wonder… Why didn’t we listen and take action?”
“Yes, it’s very much like my real job. Painful. And frustrating. But now I know I’m not alone.”
"This has given us a lot to think about and how we need to change the way we work."
"We need to get our business through this."
It was clear that Connecting the right stakeholders in this type of end-to-end intensive workshop, helps create a shared Focus on barriers to be removed, and a commitment to take away improvement actions aimed at increasing velocity and ensuring and end-to-end focus on value.
Not only was there organizational connectivity building during the game, also afterwards participants shared contact information to keep connected. Next generation ITSM is all about that. Sharing to increase value driven experiences. And this simulation triggers just that!
Interested to find out more about this topic after reading this blog? Contact us!