Move Faster, in the Right Direction with Valu-ocity™

One of the consistent challenges that business leaders face is the pressure that comes from customers, stakeholders and competitors – more, faster, better. Most recently I have seen this with a CTO working hard to keep the lights on and lay out a three year vision and roadmap for technology, all while other teams within the organization are making significant technology decisions that may or may not be aligned to that direction. If your organization is anything like the scenario I just described, I suspect you too are feeling pressure from shareholders, from the board, your boss and even your peers, to work faster and to deliver more within a shorter period of time.

But, what they’re really asking is to deliver more value faster, not just to deliver faster. This is where our “Valu-ocity” framework comes into play. Valu-ocity positions business leaders to increase the speed of value delivery for their companies and organizations.

There are four immediate things you can do to quickly drive more value with your team:

1.     Work on the right things

Working on the right things starts by having a clear plan and an understanding of the priorities within that plan. Then you can review the work that’s going on up against the plan and priorities which are laid out.

One of the most interesting ways of thinking about whether you’re working on the right things is to use the Konmari method that Marie Kondo outlined in “The life-changing magic of tidying-up”. The Konmari method teaches you how to let go of unneeded things to make room for the things that matter, or in our case, the things that deliver the most value.

If, for example, you look at your project list the question to ask is not “What work can we stop” or “What work can we get rid of?”

Instead, the question you should ask is “Which deliverables are generating / going to generate high value outcomes against my plan?” Once you know the answer, then you can remove everything else. It’s similar to Marie Kondo asking you place your hands on a thing and if it sparks joy you keep it. Work on the right things and eliminate the things which are not driving high value against the priorities within your plan.

2. Drive simplicity

There are many things that you can do to drive simplicity, ranging from internal processes to clear communication. Although often unintentional, it is likely that your actions have the tendency to complicate the day to day operations your team. Like me, I am sure you have seen and even participated in, the cascading impact one question from the CEO can have on hundreds of people in an organization.

Do you understand how work moves through your organization, from the idea generation to funding to staffing and into execution? Is governance and decision making in place which stops the wrong things from being implemented, but speeds through the right things when people are behaving the right way?

This is an opportunity to take a critical eye to how the “water moves through the pipes” and whether there are any blockages. Roles and responsibilities, decision rights and governance mechanisms can all be reviewed to provide more clarity and speed.

3. Measure

Velocity is a measure of how quickly something moves in a particular direction. But how do you know if you’re getting velocity through your organization? Some organizations will size their deliverables to understand throughput. Others will measure performance against an agreed roadmap.

While both are acceptable, it is important to understand which metrics you select are less important than whether the metrics accurately measures speed through the organization. Associated metrics can also be added. For example, velocity is also tied to delivering outcomes, so there is also likely a need to measure quality and predictability so that your stakeholders can quickly consume your team’s outputs. These metrics will then enable you to assess how each of your teams is improving and accelerating.

4. Communicate

There is often a gap between the work which is coming out of your team, and what others believe is being achieved. This typically happens as a result of minimal communication on what is being delivered, or there is communication, but it is described as a set of technical sounding actions rather than a set of business improvements.

A client I recently worked with significantly improved their communication by both providing more frequent executive team updates and instituting a team newsletter that highlighted their wins. This had a twofold impact – key stakeholders had a clearer view of what was being delivered and it triggered more thoughtful executive team discussions on what work was a priority, gaining additional organizational alignment.

How frequently do you communicate what is being delivered and is it easily consumable by your stakeholders?

Improving “Valu-ocity” is not about perfection. It is challenging to go from where you are today to a world class, best practices organization in a very compressed period of time. So, evaluate how the team is progressing – celebrate incremental improvements and continually assess what else you can do to accelerate value.

By shifting your team from velocity to Valu-ocity, you will bring your team along with you, and together you will gather momentum.

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