US Army is dead-set to be more agile in IT

“One of the problems that we’ve got — it’s not the problem but it’s a problem — you develop a piece of technology, we don’t have the resourcing flexibility to buy it.”

That means the Army is forced to buy a technology available today it thinks it will need in 2025, when what it truly needs hasn’t been developed yet.

“[Say] you came up with something new that I really need on the battlefield based on a threat, I have no ability to integrate that into my platform. So whether it’s buy, try, decide or adapt and buy, this allows us to test technology, put it in a demonstrative, experimental environment .… Maybe I want to give it to this unit that’s going to this particular place and get feedback, and then I iterate the whole Army.”

Source: Army hopes to get past ‘treating symptoms’ with streamlined adapt-and-buy approach

Small experiments to solve big problems

Try to go beyond hand waving and opinions and find out what really is happening. A good way to start is to ask people to picture what their scenario would look like if everything was perfect. This puts them into a positive frame and helps focus on great outcomes. Once you’re sure you’re working on an improvement opportunity that’s worth your time, try small time-bound experiments that you actually follow through on. Use what you learn to come up with the next step. I’ve found that the combination of being bold with the vision but taking small steps to get there is a good combination.

Source: The Spotify Model is No “Agile Nirvana”

Sprinkling Internet on NGO’s don’t work

At first, you’re like, “oh, another piece where someone makes fun of us nerds and misunderstands our damagingly sarcastic way of saying everything that belies the privilege we all live under.” Then you’re like, “oh, this is actually a good piece.” E.g.:

Human rights work attempts to prevent the abusive deployment of power against those who have little of it. While technology might disrupt some power structures, it might also reinforce them, and it is rarely designed to empower the most vulnerable populations. Human rights defenders are innovative, and they have used software to do work it wasn’t designed to do, such as live-streaming police violence against civilian populations to press for government accountability. But perpetrators of mass violence are innovative too. Software alone is unlikely to provide clear human rights victories.

And, especially:

Assuming that adopting the tool is feasible, do the benefits this tool provides outweigh the cost of disrupting your existing workflow?

People rarely consider that, in all walks of life.

Source: Tech folk: ‘Move fast and break things’ doesn’t work when lives are at stake

To be effective, strategy needs living context

[T]he art of strategy based upon situational awareness remains one of those topics which are barely covered in business literature. The overwhelming majority depends upon alchemist tools such a story telling, meme copying and magic frameworks like SWOTs. It is slowly changing though and every day I come across encouraging signs.

Other than the “why don’t you tell me how you really think” tone there at the end (hey, I clearly have nothing wrong with that kind of dismissive style), that fits my experience working on strategy.

Your strategy team is forced to freeze time at the launch of the process, looking at their industry as an unchanging process (value chain diagrams, anyone?). As most strategy work takes 3-6 months at best (if not a year to year and half to fit into the corporate budget cycle and then get through The New Years hang over: no one really starts working again until February, then the business units have to plan, allocate budget, and execute), you’re behind: you’re looking at an understanding of the world that’s around a year out of date.

Worse than this, strategy teams are rarely given the tools (time, money, authority, and staff) to actually test out any theories, let alone learn from adapt the results of those tests. There’s no room for OODA/PDCA/lean startup, small batch thinking20.

Centralized strategy in a large company is weird in how unhelpful it can be for industries that are constantly changing or threatened by competitors. Like so many other corporate functions, the fix looks to be shortening the cycle time and getting as close to the actual work and customers as possible.

That’s a long way from the drab cubes of strategy drones and the luxurious double cubes with round tables of their bosses.

Source: What makes a map?