What do you do when you have a wicked problem to solve? When the current organisational structures do not fit the problem? When the current enterprise architecture does not fit the problem? When these aspects are preventing you from reaching or even conceiving a solution?
Your people can find a solution if you bring them together and give them the freedom, resources and authority to do whatever needs to be done — if you unleash a Tiger Team.
We describe our experience forming a Tiger Team to solve complex organisational and technical problems, and lessons we learned.
Presented at the P3X 2019 conference by Julie Camosseto & Nat Pryce .
Taking the tiger by the tail
"A wicked problem is a social or cultural problem that
is difﬁcult or impossible to solve for as many as four
reasons: incomplete or contradictory knowledge, the
number of people and opinions involved, the large
economic burden, and the interconnected nature of
these problems with other problems."
Wicked Problems: Problems Worth Solving by Jon Kolko
The business of science publishing
Submit Review Accept Typeset Publish Read
Funding bodies, individual institutions or
consortia usually cover the publishing and
They strike deals with publishers to cover the
costs in bulk:
● Better author experience
● Simpler administration
● Predictable cash ﬂow
● Better reporting to funders
Springer Nature was formed by merger
Springer Nature wants to make "cross-entity" deals
Funders and Springer Nature want to make deals
that cover all content of all the merged
companies, not each one individually.
But our systems and business processes:
● are not integrated
● are old and hard to change
So a programme began to create an integrated
system for payment and ﬁnancial reporting
For two years, the programme made little progress
The whole programme landed (back) in our laps
Postmortem: where were the hold-ups?
We started to plan the programme
NASA: "a team of undomesticated and uninhibited technical
specialists, selected for their experience, energy, and imagination"
We formed a Tiger Team
We established a Situation Room
We used Event Storming to see the big picture
People were not busy
all the time
We transitioned to implementing the solution
We worked with Conway's Law
● Changed the team structures to
match the required architecture
● Merged teams in different
● Invested in tools and training to
assist distributed collaboration
"Organizations which design systems ...
are constrained to produce designs
which are copies of the communication
structures of these organizations."
Conway, Melvin E. How do Committees
Invent?, Datamation, 14 (5): 28–31,
We focused on getting IT off the critical path
"Organise your stuff into two piles: stuff that needs to be done and
stuff that improves the stuff that needs to be done.
Do you need to estimate the stuff that needs to be done? No! It all
needs to be done.
Do you need to estimate the stuff that improves the stuff that needs
to be done? No! Focus on the stuff that needs to be done."
We used the Mikado Method to plan & track progress
We abstracted the Mikado Method in reports to the board
We met the deadline... and got some new ones!
We now have a way forwards...
Your current organisation, process &
architecture may not ﬁt the problem
They may be stopping you reaching or even
conceiving a solution
But the people have the solution: bring them
together and let magic happen
"Never let a good crisis go to waste!"