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October 13, 2022

9 Outcomes to Focus On for Business Agility

By IT Revolution

Sooner Safer Happier by Jonathan Smart, with Zsolt Berent, Myles Ogilvie, and Simon Rohrer is far more than a simple framework or methodology. Instead, this book presents a series of antipatterns and patterns that organizations can use to improve business agility attuned to their unique situation. As such, the book is organized to be dippable—that is, readers can pick it up and tune to the chapter that addresses the particular antipattern or challenge they are currently experiencing.

We have found that this “choose your own business agility adventure” is hugely successful. To help you as you navigate the future of business, use this handy guide. We’ve organized it based on the outcome you’re looking for. With each outcome, we recommend three chapters to review to help you get on the right path and link to the chapter summary video from Jonathan Smart himself. 

Outcome 1: I want more efficient delivery of value.

“We’re too expensive and inefficient. It’s too hard to get anything done, and organizational inertia is holding us back. Doing nothing is like going backward. The cost of change is high and it take ages. We have to be more efficient!”

If you’re struggling to find more efficient ways to deliver value to your customers, check out these three chapters:

Outcome 2: I want to optimize for highest value.

“We need to get better at benefits management. We don’t really know what value our change investments are adding, it’s just opinion. We have to get smarter at articulating, measuring, and prioritizing highest value.”

Sometimes its easy to just throw out a new feature without really knowing if it will provide the highest value for your customer. If you feel like your team is swimming in opinions and lacks clear data, try reading these three chapters:

Outcome 3: I want to decrease time to value.

“Things take too long. If we don’t change, we will not exist. We are not keeping up with the competition. Doing nothing means we are going backward quickly. We have to accelerate.”

Everyone wants to move faster. And in today’s competitive marketplace, moving faster can be the difference between winning and failing. But as the authors emphasize, fast for fast’s sake won’t bring you the value you actually need. If you’re looking to deliver value to market sooner but don’t want to fall into an antipattern, check out these three chapters: 

Outcome 4: I want to have both speed and control.

“When our delivery teams hit the risk and control gates, it doesn’t matter whether they are agile or not, they all slow to the same speed. It can feel like we have governance gridlock, yet we are highly regulated and must manage risk and maintain regulatory trust.”

Speed is great. But speed without control can steer your organization into risky waters. If you’re looking to find a find to get to market faster without losing control, check out these three chapters:

Outcome 5: I want a more engaged workforce.

“Our best people keep leaving. The talent market is so competitive. Our staff turnover is really wasteful. We lose knowledge and reputation. We have to get better at attracting and retaining the best talent.”

With the “Great Resignation” and the rise of “quiet quitting” and more, holding onto and attracting a talented workforce that is the right fit for your organization is a huge challenge. If you looking to improve your organization’s ability to retain and attract talent, check out these three chapters:

Outcome 6: I want to know why ways of working matter.

“We waste a lot of time talking about it. We have some pockets of improvement, but there is no shared understanding. Everyone has such entrenched beliefs. The arguments can get heated. Our energy needs to be focused on making real improvement.”

It’s easy to fall into the trap of buzzword bingo when it comes to adopting new ways of working. And it can be even more challenging to help your talent adjust to new initiatives and experiments. If you’re looking to find more clarity around ways of working for your organization, check out these chapters:

Outcome 7: I want to nurture culture change.

“We have talked about transformation for a long time and made a start. We’re making some progress in IT, but the wider organization is not yet feeling the benefit. As a leadership team, we want to improve outcomes and we want lasting change.”

You’ve heard it before, tools and processes will only get you so far. If you truly want to change as an organization, then you have to focus on culture. But how do you change culture? Check out these three chapters to help get you started on a cultural transformation: 

Outcome 8: I want to know where to (re)start.

“For our organization to survive and thrive, we know we have to adapt quickly. The scale of change is daunting, and we are not sure where to begin making these changes.”

Does this sound familiar to you? Sometimes figuring out where to start, or where to start again, can be the most difficult task in transforming ways of working. If there is where you’re stuck, check out these three chapters to help get yourself unstuck:

Outcome 9: I want to know how to fund agility.

“Our investment funding is tied to detailed, upfront business cases and annual project cycles. It’s hard to understand what a different funding model might look like in new ways of working.”

Okay, let’s face it. We can talk all day about new ways or working and business agility, but sometimes it all comes down to money. How are you going to fund this change. If this is the outcome you’re focused on, check out these three chapters:

By focusing on the outcome you seek instead of your outputs, you can achieve true business agility. You can achieve Better Value Sooner Safer Happier. #BVSSH


Sooner Safer Happier: Antipatterns and Patterns for Business Agility is now available in paperback at most major retailers.

- About The Authors
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IT Revolution

Trusted by technology leaders worldwide. Since publishing The Phoenix Project in 2013, and launching DevOps Enterprise Summit in 2014, we’ve been assembling guidance from industry experts and top practitioners.

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