Start With Why

Intro

Let’s start with why (1).  I would like to share with the reader what I learned in twenty years of custom software development and management in the United States.  I am not as much driven by commercial interests but rather by the desire to help management and employees avoid costly and stressful mistakes and create value for end-users and customers.  I want to inspire innovation, creativity, and thoughtful risk-taking.  We will all benefit from that.

What problem are we trying to solve?

Many mature companies are struggling with these issues:

  • How to create sustainable engines of growth and innovation?

  • How to innovate consistently, organically, sustainably and at scale?  

  • How to transform from a traditional enterprise into a technology-driven company?

  • How to attract, train, engage, and retain talent?  

  • How to demonstrate the value of a software product (2)?

  • How to make the right decisions in software product management? When to “kill” products, when to pivot, and when to scale teams? 

  • What are the necessary support structures, practices?

  • How to create the right culture?

  • Where do we start?

 

In addition to many of the above issues, growing companies need to find answers to these questions:

  • How to grow while preserving their culture?

  • How to replicate their initial success consistently with more products?  

  • How to reach profitability without sacrificing growth and innovation?

Who are the customers?

  • Executives and middle management who want to transform their legacy enterprise into a modern technology-driven company capable of organic and consistent innovation.  

  • Founders of startups experiencing growth. 

  • Founders of lifestyle businesses looking for higher profitability and relevance.

What are the alternatives?

  • Agile (3) /scum (4) /SAFe (5

  • Extreme programming (6)

  • The startup way (7

  • Lean enterprise (8)

What is the solution?

A detailed and comprehensive operating model (aka a system of work) around software product development life cycle (sPDLC) to enable organic innovation, sustainable growth, and consistent profitability.  Let’s call it “your lean company” for now.

How to measure progress?

Best outcomes will be achieved obliquely (9) and won’t be measured against your competition but rather as an improvement over your own mission statement with infinite goals (10).  Enterprise-level KPIs would include:

  • innovation contribution and conversion, 

  • agile/lean adoption, 

  • teams' health, 

  • employee retention and referrals, company reputation

  • net promoter score from customers and employees, 

  • revenue and profitability growth.  

 

I will add more details in a separate article to this important question.

What is the unique value proposition?

In my opinion, the existing operating models are either comprehensive but not detailed enough or detailed but not comprehensive enough.  I will bridge that gap, borrow some ideas, and will provide a lot of additional references to those who are interested in adopting and evolving my proposal.  

 

I am eternally grateful to the founders of the existing methodologies and frameworks for thought leadership and creativity.  I would like to leverage and evolve their ideas in an operating model using my practical experience of digital transformations in corporate America.

What is an unfair advantage?

I have the first-hand experience in the adoption of many of the existing solutions in mature enterprises and startups and learned the advantages and disadvantages of each.  It is sad that some of these companies have not lived up to their potential and essentially have let their employees, customers, and shareholders down. They tried to address chronic complex problems and either turned their transformations into an agile theater or slowly reverted to legacy command and control management practices. However, there were successes as well.  I will share the lessons I learned with the reader.

Stay tuned...

This is my first attempt at filling a lean canvas (11) for an operating model of a modern technology-driven company.  I am planning to release a couple of articles per week in a lean, iterative fashion. The quality and precision of this work will evolve as I spend more time on it and receive feedback from potential users.  Please stay tuned and contribute.

References

  1.  Simon Sinek “Start with why

  2. A software product creates value by solving a real customer problem (usability) with software technology (feasibility) in a sustainable way (business viability).  Product = Customer x Business x Technology. Marty Cagan.

  3. Agile manifesto

  4. Scrum

  5. Scaled agile framework for enterprise (SAFe)

  6. Extreme programming explained” by Kent Beck

  7. The startup way” by Eric Ries

  8. Lean Enterprise” by Barry O’Reilly

  9. John Kay (obliquity)

  10. Simon Sinek (finite and infinite games)

  11. Running Lean” by Ash Maurya, lean canvas