Going Agile

    April 26, 2016 11:47 AM by Dr. Scott M. Shemwell

    Volume 5 Number 8—April 25, 2016

    Prologue

    This is the first in a three-part series. The remaining two parts will be published in May. These three editions of the blog will address critical issues the energy sector must address in the current market environment—how to develop Organizational Agility, Resilience and Sustainability. At the conclusion of this series readers will have access to our online Economic Value Proposition Matrix® model to assess the impact Organizational Agility, Resilience and Sustainability (OARS) can have on their business.

    Part One

    The construct of organizational agility has been around for over a decade.[i] Enabled by Information Technology by now all organizations should have achieved substantial agility. So what happened on the way to achieving agility?

    Leadership! Leadership! Leadership!

    Organizations are seen as agile if they can respond to conditions and behaviors, make decisions and capitalize/respond to opportunities/incidents more rapidly than others. Demonstrating this ability is often the subject of IT enabled case studies and the focus of software sales initiatives.[ii]

    However, becoming agile is not a function of the software license a firm chooses. Rather, it is a function of the organizational mindset or its Culture.

    An organization cannot simply will itself to be agile, it must invest in the transformational process to change its culture. Before this investment is made, management must answer two questions. What is an agile organization? How will agility impact our bottom line and add stakeholder value?

    We have already partially answered the first question. Conditions, whether market, technology, regulatory or other can change very rapidly. As of this writing, the recent earthquake in Japan is affecting various automotive global supply chains.[iii]

    This incident was beyond control of that sector, or was it? Japan is a well-known earthquake prone geographic area. Preparation for the inevitable is critical.

    The Behaviors of the automotive companies affected can make difference not just in the short-term but sustained into the future.[iv] Supply chain disruptions are commonplace. How the firm responds is often a function of the Relationship it has with its vendors, government agencies and other sector constituents including customers and the public.

    The agileness of an organization is a function of its R B C model.[v] Strong linkages between the three elements indicate a high degree of agility. Conversely poor linkages or even broken linkages suggests poor or no communication amongst economic actors involved and lack of agility.

    No IT system can overcome the above problem. Rather the R B C processes must be identified, understood and documented before IT can become an enabling effort.

    Moreover, much of an organization’s agility is outside its so called IT Firewall. Information systems that do not tightly couple those third party linkages weaken responsiveness.

    The Agile Line

    The “what’s in it for me” question must also be adequately answered. Transforming to an agile organization is not without costs in time, opportunity and cash flow. The economic value must be understood beforehand as well as sustained going forward.

    Industry and non-sector “good practices” can be a good anecdotal starting point; however, each firm must undergo an in-depth analysis of its particular situation. Questions must be asked across all departments.

    How would your department benefit if …? The answers to these type questions must be codified in economic terms.

    Simply saying, “adopting this agile process will save you 20%” is not satisfactory and often not demonstrable; hence it is unbelievable. The impact on cash flow, missed opportunities, etc. needs to be documented in understandable terms.

    The financial numbers must speak to the decision-maker or Leader. There is only one decision-maker. It may be the CEO, or it may be a Board of Directors issue but only one entity is the economic buyer. Once Leadership internalizes the value of agility, the transformational process begins.

    What is the Value of Agility to Your Organization?

    About the Author

    Dr. Scott M. Shemwell has over 30 years technical and executive management experience primarily in the energy sector. He is the author of six books and has written extensively about the field of Operations Excellence. Shemwell is the Managing Director of The Rapid Response Institute, a firm that focuses on providing its customers with solutions enabling operations excellence and regulatory compliance management. He has studied cultural interactions for more than 30 years—his dissertation; Cross Cultural Negotiations Between Japanese and American Businessmen: A Systems Analysis (Exploratory Study) is an early peer reviewed manuscript addressing the systemic structure of social relationships.

    End Notes

    [i]  http://www.amazon.com/The-Agile-Enterprise-Reinventing-Organization/dp/0387243739

    [ii]  http://www-01.ibm.com/software/rational/agile/casestudies/

    [iii]  http://fortune.com/2016/04/17/toyota-earthquake-disruptions/

    [iv]  http://www.forbes.com/sites/ciocentral/2012/03/13/japan-one-year-later-the-long-view-on-tech-supply-chains/#1f6d2777751a

    [v]  Shemwell, Scott M. (1996). Cross Cultural Negotiations between Japanese and American Businessmen: A Systems Analysis, (Exploratory Study). Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Nova Southeastern University, Ft. Lauderdale.

    Sharing

    April 7, 2016 3:58 PM by Dr. Scott Shemwell

    Volume 5 Number 7—April 7, 2016

    Almost all online communities have a focus on Sharing. Software, service and other providers seek to increase their visibility and ultimately generate more subscribers and revenue.  Others see this as a marketing tool.

    Network Economics can generate exponential growth rapidly.[i] Organizations recognize this and seek to capitalize on it to growth stakeholder value.  Others may see this as another kind of opportunity.

    In the Wild West of the Internet, ownership laws are routinely violated. Copyright materials are frequently copied, incorporated into blogs et al and not cited or acknowledged in any way. Plagiarism is rampant and unashamed.[ii]

    Non-disclosure agreements, Insider trading regulations and other instruments designed to assure the confidentiality of organizational information and knowledge have proliferated in our Knowledge Economy. Perhaps unwittingly violating these agreements, individuals often do not think when Retweeting, Sharing, Liking or Favoring certain social content.

    For example, responding to a Tweet, individuals with sensitive information may leak it in his or her response to an emotional statement by others. Human nature is such that we respond to threats, attacks or other statements to which we emotionally disagree.[iii]  This phenomenon is very visible in the current U.S. Presidential election process.

    In an era of Big Data, if X number of individuals from a specific organization respond to a Post regarding a merger or acquisition on a social media site such as LinkedIn, from Analytics one might infer a certain stance or position on the subject. Perhaps innocent, this inadvertent leak may impact on the equity markets.

    If a social media based rumor turns out to be true (and there are often many rumors regarding impending actions) does the organization face any blowback or legal action? Perhaps not as there is usually a rumor mill about these types of issues.

    However, in the olden days rumors were usually not in writing. When they were, the results can be disastrous. Leaking written documents such as the Pentagon Papers in 1971 contributed to the doomed Presidency of Richard Nixon.[iv]

    WikiLeaks, Edward Snowden et al are more modern examples of catastrophic organizational information leaks.[v] Organizational damage can be huge, rapid and almost impossible to contain.

    Inadvertent disclosures are not limited to Insiders. During the first Iraq war one reporter sketched a map in the sand of future military operations on global television.[vi]

    In this modern era, disclosure that violates SEC and other regulatory requirements is easy. Malicious, inadvertent, or even stupid comments online can have lasting effects.

    Organizations may want to consider putting into place not just governance policies but technology enabled solutions that assure outgoing messages are not in violation of organizational policies. Precedent has been set as many organizations do not permit employees to visit certain websites from organizational networks, i.e., online shopping and so called adult entertainment.

    What is your organization’s Governance regarding Sharing in the Social Media?

    About the Author

    Dr. Scott M. Shemwell has over 30 years technical and executive management experience primarily in the energy sector.  He is the author of six books and has written extensively about the field of Operations Excellence.  Shemwell is the Managing Director of The Rapid Response Institute, a firm that focuses on providing its customers with solutions enabling operations excellence and regulatory compliance management.  He has studied cultural interactions for more than 30 years—his dissertation; Cross Cultural Negotiations Between Japanese and American Businessmen: A Systems Analysis (Exploratory Study) is an early peer reviewed manuscript addressing the systemic structure of social relationships.

    End Notes

     

     

    [i]  Shemwell, Scott M. (2011). The Lesson of the Chessboard. Essays on Business and Information II: Maximizing Business Performance. New York: Xlibris. p. 173.

     

     

    [ii]  http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/is-social-media-creating-a-plagiarism-problem-infographic/

     

     

    [iii]  http://psychology.about.com/od/findex/g/fight-or-flight-response.htm

     

     

    [iv]  http://www.history.com/topics/vietnam-war/pentagon-papers

     

     

    [v]  https://wikileaks.org/

     

     

    [vi]  http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/03/31/sprj.irq.geraldo/

     

     

    Determining Value

    March 31, 2016 8:41 AM by Dr. Scott M. Shemwell

     

    Volume 5 Number 6—March 21, 2016

    In our last blog posting we developed the dual construct of Cost Management and Productivity Enhancement.  These are the cornerstones of any value proposition put forth in challenging market environments.

    Unfortunately, those who often develop the highest organizational value are not the best adapt at communicating the value proposition of their solution.  For example, the television sitcom, The Big Bang Theory makes light of socially awkward Brainiacs.[i]  A similar plot to a movie series in a previous era, the Revenge of the Nerds movies spoke to a similar inability to communicate with the masses.[ii]

    In both spoofs, the awkward prevailed.  However, in real life this is often not the case.  The Cost—Productivity Matrix is a four-part template; Speed & Simplification, Operational Excellence, Innovation and Internet of Things (also referred to as the Industrial Internet of Things in a commercial environment).

    Each of these is a major paradigm in and of itself.  Altogether, addressing their value added can be a formidable task.  Yet, all must be addressed if the organization is to be prosperous today and in the future.

    To be successful, those with the knowledge of how a technological solution can add value must “Translate Technology to the Language of Business,” a tagline we have used for several years describing one of our software products (EVPM).[iii]  The characters in The Revenge of the Nerds movies demonstrated success at this, albeit in an unlikely way for most of us.

    Scientist, chemists, medical personnel, computer programmers and engineers et al speak in terms of mathematics.  This is the common denominator with those business executives who fund investments and projects.  These individuals work in mathematical terms as well, often called finance!

    Throughout this four plus year blog series and in other pieces as well, we have argued that organization culture adds demonstrable value to an organization.  It is a major element of competitive advantage or differentiator from others in non-commercial entities.

    We posit that mathematics is the fundamental idea.  Physicists and computer programmers have advanced this for generations.  So has the finance sector.

    For example, derivatives can be defined as a security whose value is dependent on another asset.[iv]  Mathematically, a derivative is a way “to represent rate of change.”[v]

    At the fundamental level, both are the same.  The underlying element is Structural Dynamics.[vi]  Those underlying latent currents that drive all change.<