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XBA: an XSCALE Pattern Language.

 

XSCALE Business Agility ("XBA") generates self-directing portfolios of self-managing value streams of self-organizing teams. These rapidly accelerate top-line business throughput by continuously prioritizing bottlenecks in value-flow, work-flow, and the flow of learning across the organization. XBA focuses entirely on the practical aspects of business agility, generating working capabilities, not wishful thinking and text-book learning.

XBA combines de-scaling, self-propagating transformation and throughput accounting practice patterns to solve the game-theoretic "Tragedy of the PMO". It forms one of three core practice-pattern languages that, together, cover all the needs of an agile organization. The others are XSCALE Product Management (XPM) and XDevOps (XDO).

Treating these as pattern languages rather than a framework serves the fundamental agile principle of YAGNI.This post outlines the purpose and benefits of the XBA pattern language – its Why, Who, How and What.

Why: "The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a team is face-to-face conversation." – Agile Manifesto Principle 6. Big meetings, long loops, slow learning, tight coupling, prisoners dilemmas and deep hierarchies are bottlenecks no matter how agile the teams in your organization may be. The XPM patterns enable self-organizing teams to manage their own value streams, but that doesn't generate a self-directing portfolio. XBA does this by forming a rotating council of chapter representatives to align stream missions to each other, and to individual competencies and team OKRs, to maximize business throughput across the portfolio as a whole.

Who: Without a command and control hierarchy, value streams must coordinate by direct representation of teams per stream and streams per portfolio. To short-circuit hierarchy, cross-cutting chapter meetings, rather than teams, nominate representatives to participate in council meetings. The council of a stream is called its "Product Squad" after the Lean-UX "Product Team', and likewise cross-stream concerns are coordinated in a "Portfolio Squad". The repeating structure of chapters and councils is made efficient by simple numeric limits on three key de-scaling metrics.

How: XBA combines the Spotify model with practice patterns drawn from the Iroquois Confederacy, the most successful and longest-lived holarchy in history. In particular, Leadership as a Service enables squads and councils to achieve consensus decision-making in a timely way. Governance treaties proposed by chapters are ratified at squad retros without mediation by central authorities, and chapter leaders rotate to prevent the formation of power hierarchies. These patterns can be extended through the fractal "longhouse pattern" to resolve larger cross-cutting concerns.

What: 

  • Throughput Accounting is the TOC alternative to cost accounting that optimizes the contribution of each business function to top line throughput rather than blindly attempting to minimize operating expense. While commonplace, cost accounting makes an irrational basis for value stream management because it fails to account for the stream's market and system constraints, and also for the interdependencies of value streams across a portfolio. Throughput accounting continuously identifies and prioritizes the bottleneck that dominates throughput per stream and per portfolio.

  • Mission-Command is a leadership style initially developed by the Prussian Field Marshall Von Moltke as aufragstaktik, later known as blitzkrieg. Google embeds it in their "OKRs" – Objectives & Key Results – and Apple in "DRIs" – Directly Responsible Individuals. Instead of tasking people with steps of a solution, Mission Command distributes responsibility for problems along with the authority to solve them and metrics to track them. XBA attaches responsibilities as BDD acceptance criteria per feature to ensure they are cleanly coordinated across capabilities, systems, and streams even in decentralized, distributed or hybrid portfolios.

  • Self-Propagating Transformation avoids pushing change into pre-existing teams, programs or silos, but generates agile capability by grafting the kernel of a new culture onto the trunk of the old. Adapting Gandhi's patterns, this generates uncompromised agile capability by iteratively converting change recipients into change agents, iteratively doubling by splitting and back-filling, emphasizing learning by immersion, and eliminating risks of value stream disruption.

  • Open Book Management gamifies benefits-realization, rewarding value stream participants proportionately to the stream's achievement of benefits to the business top line. Instead of individual KPIs, incentive pools and targets are defined by the Portfolio Squad per stream and per release. All teams and streams openly share business information and draw from a single P&L.

  • De-Scaling Metrics establish structural limits that assure efficient flow of value to markets, work to production, and learnings across the organization. XBA applies three simple structural metrics by which any team, stream, portfolio or organization may be measured: maximum ceremony size, feedback frequency, and collaboration loop length.

  • Hybrid Models recognize that while the best performing value streams apply uncompromised Agile principles to Design, Delivery and DevOps, the world is far from perfect. XBA supports friction-free interoperation with traditional PMOs and distributed, waterfall, hierarchical or “flaccid Agile” cultures. The key to making these hybrids work is clear delineation of methods, responsibilities and acceptance criteria per value stream; streams that attempt hybrid models internally are notoriously inefficient and risk- and error-prone.

  • Throughput Diagrams chart financials to prioritize work on ecosystem growth. Throughput diagrams combine analytic “Pirate Metric” curves with Lean's Cumulative Flow diagrams, lifting the XPM Stream Kanban to generate an unambiguous Business-Agile dashboard that makes it easy to identify bottlenecks and vary stream priorities to open them, enabling all stakeholders to read their portfolio’s current state and business priorities at a glance.

  • Treaty Governance employs a repeating cycle of ceremonies – chapter meetings, squad retrospectives, and representative councils – to align teams and streams peer to peer without intermediary managers. Nor is there need for an alignment to be ratified by all teams - only those that participate in it. In the Iroquois Confederacy such a decentralized form of governance maintained several hundred thousand participants in a peaceful society for over five hundred years

XBA Certification $1,250

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