Adding value on 3 levels


Adding value on 3 levels

Companies nowadays are (or should be!) all about adding value. Value to the product, customer value, value to their profit or whatever kind of value you can think of. But it doesn't stop there, no! As we are all becoming more lean (not the physical kind, trust me) we also reduce the non-adding value activities. We even have a name for these time-consuming, non-adding value activities: Waste. Just to emphasize that we MUST add value. By the way I will not discuss the LEAN principle of reducing Waste here.

That's easy right? Adding value to a product or service? I know you can already think of three examples on the top of your head. Anything from putting beans in a can before selling it to replacing the entire car fleet by electric cars is about adding value in some form or another.

But that is not what I want to put out here. I would like to take a look into the 'how to' part. Of course I didn't come up with this but it is my view on the Scaling Agile Framework (SAFe) that we see emerging nowadays in many companies. Though of course many companies did and are doing fine without Scaling Agile, we see that the really successful companies are either already Agile in some form or are embracing the (Scaling) Agile paradigm.

Three levels

Basic economics thought us three levels of management, top to bottom: Strategic, Tactical and Operational management. That's how Scaling Agile in a way also fits in, but focused on adding value.

At strategic level the ideas, visions, the long term goals are already broken down into Epics. Solution descriptions related to/adding to the goal or vision set by the top management. Creating the portfolio by adding the Epics to the portfolio backlog. Dripping down to the Program backlog where Program management, breaks the epics even further down into backlog items and prioritize the list of items to do. That will eventually end up as backlog items (user stories for example) on the backlog of the Agile teams. And in short sprints they will deliver value in whatever form to the companies set goals, vision or long term ideas.

Sounds simple? It is, in theory. In real live situations it becomes more complex (and I am fully aware that I skip value streams, release trains, etc.) but sticking to the 'add value now' paradigm will work. Heck it works already in companies around the globe.

Is there more to it? You bet there is. It's all about people and organization changing. But this describes the bare bone of the Scaling Agile Framework. The simplest thing you can do. Stick to this principle and you will succeed into becoming successful in adding value and becoming the Agile organization that leads the market and is ready to adapt quickly to the future when needed.

Willem Aalderink

SAFe Agilist  JAWS-IT