Sustainable Practices

(also referred to as Organizational Habits)

Sustainability of a particular implementation of Lean and Agile is one of the common problems in the industry. What may appear as a great set of practices does not survive the test by time and 12-24 months later may lead to poorer outcomes that there were before the transformation itself started. This happens often as a result of immature approach to adoption and underlying problems like Semiconductor Organization, Second-Order Silos and others (also see Black Diamond anti-pattern). The outcome of such adoption can be described by the following graph:

After the initial phase of enthusiasm, as soon as the organization hits a first impediment or two, the practice is quickly deteriorating and the process becomes pretty much irreversible.

The actual goal however, is to build Organizational Habits – sustainable practices that continuously deliver value to the business:

For that to happen, the organization must be prepared to deal with the impediments on their way. In the following example, teams quickly regroup to address the “deterministic test dataset problem” that lies at the root cause of their biggest impediment (“false negatives” in the test-run).

Following are the tools that assist in the process of growing organizational habits:

  1. Benefit-Constraint
  2. Reinforcing Feedback Loops
  3. Practice Maps
  4. Embedded Mental Models
  5. Shared Cognition

Organizations have to exercise serious caution with regard to some popular organizational change management paradigms that over-emphasize early wins. Typical management mindset knows very little about sustainability and overall the Dynamics of Complex Organizations. This may put a high toll on a transformation effort and render very poor results (also see Misinterpretation of Case-Studies).