Kumar Dattatreyan (00:09):
Hi everyone. This is Kumar with Agile Meridian, and we are up to, I believe, episode 56 on our Agile shorts. Wow. we last came, our last episode was maybe a month ago, and since then we've had some recordings or some episodes on Safe, the Scale Agile framework and X Scale. Today we're gonna be getting back to our, our Agile shorts, which is really a short discussion about something that we find pertinent to to hopefully to you. And so with that last week we we were at a, a client site and we conducted a value stream mapping session. And, you know, I've, I've been personally been part of many value stream mapping sessions, but mostly using the safe, the scale agile frameworks model for value stream mapping. And, and this one was a little different, and it was one that, that we, the Azure Meridian folks we developed and, and mainly really Mike, Mike Jer who's on the call today. And so I thought we could kind of delve into that the technique that we used and the results and the outcomes that it produced. So I'm gonna turn it to Mike. Mike, tell us a little bit about what we did at a high level.
Michael Jebber (01:26):
Gotcha. So we do this as part of our accelerator programs as part of our the disruptor method signature model. it's really meant to be a, a, a part of a group of activities or exercise that allows a company or a group of people in this case to really hone in on current state. And the reason we're doing that is we're trying to get a lot of ahas, we talk about in, in a lot of these as we did this week, but we talked about change and, and what change is like, and how different humans interact differently with change, and how do you help folks move forward with change. This is one of those, one of those pieces of the puzzle that we do to really help a group understand current state, get the space to empty the glass as we talk about in the change management material that we have.
and to get some ahas. It's also a chance for us to get ahas as well for us to learn about the group that we're with to get an understanding of current state. And, and again, we've talked for example, last week we talked with this group for several weeks prior to our, our kickoff session that we had together with them. But when we get into the activity it's really interesting to watch everybody get involved and to, to exercise this, this activity because this isn't something we sit down in the traditional sense and have someone do either a value stream map. Some people will recognize it as process mapping, looking at an idea or looking at the flow of a portion of a, of an organization operating model from the inception of an idea to the delivery of value somewhere.
Right? And when you look at those traditional models, a lot of times it's interviews. it's time spent spent talking to different people while they're going through their work on their regular days. it's not really dedicated time where everybody gets to get together and do this as an activity. I think that's one of the key differences that, that, that I like that we do, is we have these value stream maps. this idea of a segment of their business from idea all the way to value delivery gets generated from the source from groups of people that have a, have a very broad reach over the organization can see that that segment that we're looking at, they all can participate in that segment in some way. So we usually pick a topic or something that they can all inject in.
So there's not somebody just sitting back and kind of doing this. Although there is a lot of learning. 'cause a lot of folks only see in, you know, organizations that are siloed. They only see their silo or they only see things to the right or the left of them. They don't see the whole it's part of that aha. A lot of frustrations come out in a lot of ways about cur current struggles and impediments and issues and stuff like that. but, but it's really this group getting together and generating this information on their own. and, and we'll talk a little bit about some of the outcomes and things that they get, but that's, that's kind of the differences in, in what it is versus some of the more traditional ways to generate a process map, a process flow diagram or a value stream map.
Kumar Dattatreyan (04:39):
Yeah. So Chris, you weren't there. So just to give you a little context and, and I'd love to hear your, your questions on this. this, this was sort of a, a, a little deeper dive into, you know, so it was more of a lean implementation of the value stream map rather than an agile implementation of the value stream map. So we were, we were looking at not just the, the steps and the flow of value as it traversed across this plan of business but also the, the the blocks or impediments along the way, and we mark those along the way. And it, it was, it was very illuminating. Not, not only for us, of course, being the outsiders, but but also for them. so having said that, and what, what comes to mind for you, Chris, as, as a question, you know, sort of to get into how we did it or how what they got out of it?
Chris Daily (05:31):
Well, who was in the room, Mike, for start?
Michael Jebber (05:35):
Well, for this, for this particular for this particular exercise, this is a, a catalyst team. So this group was brought together at this accelerator to be a catalyst team for continuous improvement within the organization. So what we did is we selected a segment of one of their value streams that everyone in that room had enough experience and knowledge around that they could participate in. Again, we're not trying to solve all the problems of an organization in, in a, in a day and a half which is how much time we've spent on this. but what we're trying to do is to get them into a pattern of activity together in terms of collaborating, bringing up ideas, and getting big and visual with what they do. 'cause we did this all on the walls, right? We did this in a visual big and visual way.
You can do it remote, but it doesn't have the same impact. This group was kind of a, a layer, I would say middle, upper layer of the organization. There were engineers, there were line managers, there were product owners, there were folks that were responsible for operations and all of the services for all of these groups. Mm-hmm. , there was testing and automation. There was some senior leadership, a couple of folks that report directly to the C T O and another group, another person that reports the C O O. So you had operations and technology in there. So it was a, it was a smattering of folks across the, the group who, who, who is, is going to be, they're, they're, they're going to be that initial cha catalyst team for, for continuous improvement for the entire organization. And this is an organization that has multiple products.
This products grew a lot through acquisition, so there's a lot of natural kind of siloing that happens when you apply or, or add companies to other companies. but it's, it, it, it was interesting to see because they're already there. You can see like, when we do this, you can see the type of cultural strengths that an organization has just in the way that they kind of rally around and actually operate in, in mm-hmm. during this activity. or some of the challenges they may have some of the gaps they may have in terms of their collaboration maturity around their organizational knowledge and breadth and depth across their, the entire value stream versus just their segments. so it was it was, it was a good group and they jumped right in. You know, we were very fortunate with this group, their culture, very strong culture, very collaborative culture. Some folks were as new as a couple of years, other folks had been there over 19 or 20 years. So it was a big smattering of knowledge and, and different expertise in the group.
Chris Daily (08:12):
Did they, as you were taking 'em through it, how resistant to, to doing the activity were they,
Michael Jebber (08:18):
I don't think that they were in this case. we've had groups that have gone in before and they've like, we've done this before. We, we've value stream map, we do process flow maps here. Here's all of our process flow maps. We're like, great. That's, that's wonderful. part of this really isn't intended as an exercise to, to generate a value stream map or a process flow map to show everybody where we are, current state, we use that as an activity to, to generate all these other things. One of our intents in doing this, and the, the reason it's structured the way that it is, is we're looking at the end of about a day and a half closer, maybe day and a half to two days, to be able to take a group of people from nothing up on the wall to all of these early some low hanging, some very large, but early ideas around opportunities for mm-hmm.
continuous improvement. So there's a, there's a specific goal to get out of it to find some things that they can work on right away. When we look at this in terms of the accelerators the signature offer that we do for the disruptor method, you know, we're trying to help folks initially populate some, some Kanban style visibility elements in work that we can educate them on how to build a practice and a capability, but we wanna do it on real work. We don't wanna do it theoretically. We want to take their real issues today or the things they wanna work on and start doing that. So we come out of this session in fact, this group had 35 potential improvement ideas,
Kumar Dattatreyan (09:49):
Michael Jebber (09:50):
Potential improvement ideas which is great, you know, that's fantastic. We've seen anywhere from, you know, in the, in the low twenties to over 40 in, in about a day and a half activity over a portion of their business. And what this does is gives people a pattern of activity to collaborate with together on, to quickly generate and align around current state and say, okay, now we have one version that all the people in this room agree on. Because what we see when you do the exercises is a lot of times everybody in there doesn't agree that this segment operates this way. It doesn't for them, they see it differently or it impacts them differently. Mm-hmm. . So there's a lot of learning that goes on, a lot of mind share, a lot of, but, but we actually have actionable things that we can go after right out of the gate when we finish our kickoffs. We can go right into our cadence, our weekly cadence with this group, and we can start working on things. We can, we can set up a kanban, we can start showing them how to use the Kanban and what good Kanban etiquette is on real work and real improvement items that they can actually start getting lift on while they're learning the techniques early on to become this collaborative catalyst team for continuous improvement. I'm
Kumar Dattatreyan (11:06):
Sorry, go ahead, Kumar. Just, just real quick. I was, I was really struck by the the reverse flows and some of the sort of like the the you call 'em
Michael Jebber (11:15):
Kumar Dattatreyan (11:15):
In the process where things got stuck mm-hmm. , right? And the debate and the conversation that ensued from that, right? It's like, well, that's right. You know, this happens and then this happens, and then that happens. And this wasn't a huge company. It was interesting to me that as companies grow and scale, these processes become sort of obscure and it's hard to know what really happens unless you do something like this. And so it was, it, it uncovered a lot of ahas for the group. I think, and, and I know, I, I don't think I, I know because that's, that's what they said, . Yeah, it was, I think it was really, it was really great exercise.
Michael Jebber (11:55):
It, it's amazing too. You can do it in, we do typically three passes. So we go from a blank slate typ like in this case four foot butcher board or butcher paper up on the walls, right. With nothing on it. Show them the technique, which is very, very easy. Just a couple of simple things. And we do a couple of passes by the third pass, we are pulling actionable data out of that out of that value stream across the entire thing. We're not highly detailing everything in the beginning and not getting to the stuff at the end. Everybody gets an opportunity to play and there's a lot of opportunity for the group to pair and group on segments of that. And I, I, I was interested to see Kumar your thinking on when you saw that happening. we went from everybody kind of working together on the first pass to get kind of alignment around here's our core, and then taking each section and just jumping in and breaking it out. What, what did you think about that when you saw it?
Kumar Dattatreyan (12:57):
Yeah, I, I thought it was really a, a good opportunity for people to learn from each other. and, and the smaller group, the smaller parents allowed more intimate conversation around that area. And, and in some cases, the people that were paired together, one of them had quite a bit of knowledge in the area and the other didn't, right. Have, have as much experience. And so it was a good way to share flow, information flow between people that don't typically work together all the time, you know, or maybe have different perspectives around, around how the work progresses. So I thought that was really good and they brought it up as being, you know, great that they were able to pair with different people throughout the day and a half or so. And even though this was a really collaborative group, they've, they worked well together already. I think this workshop brought them even closer together, not just around the camaraderie that they built in the session, but also just around the work and understanding the work. So it was, it was really good. Yeah.
Michael Jebber (13:54):
Really. And wow, is that, is that, tell me more about that. And, you know, these, these discovery points, at least two dozen discovery points that that generated more conversation as we went through, especially the, the second pass when things got a little more detailed, which then led to some pretty interesting current state models where they had, you know, this is kumar's section of it, and then when it hits me, this is how it changes, or when it gets to this point, the two of us do two completely different things. Right? Yeah,
Kumar Dattatreyan (14:23):
It was interesting.
Michael Jebber (14:24):
It was very, very educational for us. Answer that. He's
Kumar Dattatreyan (14:27):
Asking some questions. I, I think he's been waiting to voice patiently. Yeah.
Chris Daily (14:32):
patiently between you two. Yeah. So first observation I think is that, and I don't, I, I want point this out. You guys have kind of put it out there and it's kind of buried in what you said, but it sounds like that you, you got great, it was a great if, if you didn't get anything out of it, it was a great opportunity for team building, right? Because you had these people that yeah, they collaborate, but do they work together as a team? It sounds like that's what came out. It also sounds like that you honed in on what the company actually does in terms of that particular segment, right? And then you came, you got outcomes out of it, right? You got your next, if you will, your, your continuous improvement items. And I guess my question would be, so doing all that, are you gonna take it and how do you then capture it and visualize it going forward? Because when you, as you were talking, Mike, you said you had a person who works with the C I O and a person who works with the C T O and there are gonna be other people that are gonna hear the rumblings of this, right? And wanna see what was done. For many of 'em, they haven't, they may not have ever seen this, right? It's all kind of tribal knowledge in people's heads. What, how are you gonna take this and make it a, some sort of artifact, some sort of living artifact that goes forward?
Michael Jebber (16:01):
Well, it's actually interesting because we, we talked to a couple of the, the stakeholders after the engagement. And one of the things that they brought up unprompted was actually two, a couple of things of how they were going, how they envisioned they could utilize this moving forward. obviously it was a paper version 'cause we're all collaborating very simple and easy to, to move things around. They're gonna digitize this and make a digital version so that it's captured and shareable across an organization that spans the globe, right? So they wanna be able to share that and make it visible. But they were very specific in noticing that it's a living document that this will change over time. So it's not something that's just gonna get stored away in a folder with a bunch of suggestions and, and may not get, not get back to they're gonna have that, we're gonna pull those items out and leverage them.
But the, the actual B s m or, or the, the flow diagram itself will not only continue to live on and grow in a digital format. It's gonna be made public and visible to different levels of the organization. They plan on having conversations to show them, here's, here's an example of a slice of our company right now and some of the things we're dealing with and some of the challenges we're dealing with. And oh, the way we know that exists in these other slices too. We just haven't done the actual V S M 'cause we had conversations around it. Mm-hmm. , they're also looking at it from a standpoint of hiring. hey, when we go to hire new people or we onboard new people we, we, we can show them this is how we operate today, and by the way, this is the improvements we're planning to make to that and how we're gonna operate in the future.
They also since they're a company that grows through acquisition, they plan to use this with their current their, their current VCs and, and any funding sources that they get. if there's anybody that they're looking to acquire, they're gonna align this up with the way that they operate currently today to see where those matches of strengths are and where there may be potential impediments or, or, or some grinding gears. they, they, they came up with all of this on their own at the end of the engagement. And that was, we didn't even suggest these items to, they could just visit after seeing it. Like there's so many more uses for this than just us sitting around the room and understanding what happens today. We, we can see a lot of applications for this. And that, that was really encouraging to us. 'cause some groups we work with, we have to kind of, we kind of feed that to them, Hey, you can use this way, you can use it that way. They immediately saw 3, 4, 5 different uses for this thing with the idea that it's going to be a living document for them moving forward.
Kumar Dattatreyan (18:39):
I, I agree. I, I think this group was just jazzed by the end of our session. And granted, we just, we didn't just do V s M with them. We did a lot of other things that you mentioned, Mike, but at the end of this session, they were really jazzed up with the potential that the visibility, and not only provided them, but also can provide, will provide their leaders, right. And their counterparts or peers. of course not everyone in the company was represented and that, that, that could be a next step for them. They mentioned it, it would be great to do this with sales and marketing and with, you know, other parts of the organization, right?
Michael Jebber (19:16):
Kumar Dattatreyan (19:18):
It was, it was
Michael Jebber (19:18):
Something, even a detailed one with operations, I think they were talking about within service.
Kumar Dattatreyan (19:21):
Yeah. Chris, do you have any other questions for us?
Chris Daily (19:24):
I do. So when am I gonna be able to take the class, Mike, to tell me
Michael Jebber (19:29):
? Well, it is a part of all of our accelerators that we do. so we, we go through and do this even if someone has done value stream mapping in the past again, the, a lot of times the intent of that was for someone to kinda lay out what their prescriptive suggestions were going to be and try to use their existing map to, to as, as a basis we're, we're coming from the other angle on this. So I, we haven't, we haven't done this as a, like a, a course or a workshop yet. we've certainly done it with all of our accelerators and our signature offer when we're going to help organizations transform I'll say that it would be wise for us to, even just for us internal coaches that use this and the partners that we have that we, that will support us in and, and our clients that we, it creates some sort of a short class or workshop or something that shows people how to use these, this, the, the, our, our techniques. I mean, it's not, it's not so unique but it is different from ones I've done in the past. And so the three passes, the callers that we use for the different post-it notes and things like that, just something more specific as to how to run a value stream mapping session the way we do it. And I, and I think, yeah, we're really we're, we're really bear out the success of the method itself. Right. I'm looking forward to that class. That's all it does. Alright. Sounds good. Absolutely. Well, we're, we're treading into longish territory, so if there aren't any other questions, I'll, we'll include information in the show notes as to the disruptor method and other things that we mentioned. Alright, so thanks for watching everyone, and we'll catch you next time. Bye-bye. Thank you. Bye.