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How to bake a change

How to bake a change

There is no one-size-fits-all recipe for transformation, but that doesn't mean consultants and methodology firms aren't lining up to sell you one. Be it the ubiquitous SAFe, the "Spotify model" (which Spotify quickly outgrew), or some other lovechild of Scrum and RUP with its own cutesy vocabulary, the kitchen has decided what you are having without even asking what you want.

The usual counter is that every organisation and context is different, so it needs its own unique recipe which you need to figure out from scratch.

I think the truth sits somewhere in between. Each situation needs its own contextual approach, but you don't have to start from nothing. I have spent the last decade exploring, applying, rejecting and adapting all kinds of principles and guidelines, tricks and techniques, and successful playbooks for specific contexts.

I won't try to sell you a recipe for transformation, but I will share some change cooking tips that might mean yours doesn't fall flat!

Daniel Terhorst-North

October 04, 2023

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  1. CC-BY Understand the goal Bake the cake right => Product

    management => Product development Bake the right cake
  2. CC-BY Understand the goal Baking the cake right Ship faster

    - without cutting corners Spend less - without hurting performance Improve quality - without adding overhead Baking the right cake Find the target - understand customer needs Hit the target - build products customers want Stay on target - adapt to a changing market
  3. CC-BY Understand the goal Meet lots of people “Listen like

    you don’t know the answer” What delights them? What frustrates them? Listen for the story behind the story Play back what you learned, with options
  4. CC-BY Decide where to start You cannot Use the Rule

    of 63*: Pick 3, suck up the other 60! * https://dannorth.net/go/63
  5. CC-BY Seek vertical alignment Establish buy-in from top to bottom

    - “What’s in it for me?” Start small and focused - choose one programme or initiative - 50-100 people Federate the goal through OKRs - tangible, measurable, exciting! - for both the cake and the method
  6. CC-BY Seek horizontal alignment Align measurement through common metrics -

    fl ow metrics: lead time, throughput, WIP - human metrics: robust surveys Align ways of working by connecting people - through formal practices and informal communities - harvest and amplify; make teams famous! Encourage collaboration on shared goals - shift from scarcity mindset to abundance mindset
  7. CC-BY Explore some of those options! Plan Do Adjust Check

    Deming cycles Experiments We are pretty rubbish at experiments!
  8. CC-BY Do: Visualise Value streams Wardley maps Likert surveys Flow

    metrics Purpose alignment Demand maps Capability maps C4 models
  9. CC-BY Do: Eliminate “The most dangerous phrase is ‘We’ve always

    done it that way.’” — Grace Hopper “There is nothing quite so useless, as doing with great e ff i ciency, something that should not be done at all.” — Peter Drucker
  10. CC-BY Do: Simplify The CXO Test for process bloat: Chief

    Security O ffi cer - we got hacked Chief Compliance O ffi cer - we got fi ned Chief Product O ffi cer - we got blindsided Chief People O ffi cer - we got sued
  11. CC-BY “Autonomation: automation with a human touch” — Taiichi Ohno

    Do: Automate Not the process! Automate the tasks
  12. CC-BY Then do it all again! Are we still baking

    the right cake? Are we still baking it the right way? Do we still have everyone with us?
  13. CC-BY Recap: rules of the kitchen Understand the problem -

    Don’t just rock up with a solution - Yes, I’m looking at you, SAFe, LeSS, Scrum@Scale, … Listen to the people - They know their context better than you Seek alignment - Connect people, and bring them on the journey Try small, iterative, evidence-based changes - science is hard, VESSA is your friend Be prepared to change the recipe!