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Designing Agile Ecosystems with Org Topologies™

Summary (TL;DR)

The way Agile methods (like XP and Scrum) are understood creates artificial limitations when applied beyond single teams. This led to the rise of heavy-weight methods like SAFe, but there are questions about their true agility and long-term effectiveness here. Recently, framework-agnostic DIY (Do It Yourself) approaches like Team Topologies and unFix have emerged, providing flexibility in designing organizational structures. However, these approaches require a deep understanding of organizational design and systems thinking, which most of us need to get better at.

Org Topologies™ is a framework-agnostic approach to design and sustain large-scale agile ecosystems that move beyond the choice between frameworks and DIY methods. In this session, the creators of Org Topologies™ will explain how to design, assess, and improve your organizational ecosystem, using organizational archetypes as a guide. The goal is to provide clarity on the ecosystem you want and the behaviors you expect, enabling ongoing transformation toward agility.

Longer Story

The legacy of the original lightweight barely sufficient Agile ideas (namely XP and Scrum) has been impeded by the difficulties of applying them beyond a single team without losing the key principles and the promised gains.

Over the last decade, that challenge has led to a rose in heavy-weight methods, especially SAFe™, which has become a go-to place for "everything agile". It provides the user with a profound variety of specific tools and techniques for "scaling agile". Many enterprises are on the path of "rolling out" these ideas by the book with the help of trained coaches. But will we eventually get the promised gains of agility once we fulfill the requirements of the framework in our enterprise? Is such a prescriptive approach agile itself? And more importantly: will we own the change and know how to keep improving beyond the rule book?

In recent years, we have seen the emergence of other methods: framework-agnostic org design DIY toolboxes. In this family of modern ideas, Team Topologies™ and unFix™ stand out from the crowd. Their approach is to offer us a "lunch buffet" to pick structures and processes that suit our situation. It is a flexible approach with a lot of freedom of choice. It offers a fresh path for some of us trying to avoid the burden of frameworks. But the freedom of freely picking org elements implies that we possess a clear bigger picture and won't get lost in the night-gritty details of the puzzle pieces. As leaders, managers, and coaches, how fluent are we in org design, queuing theory, and systems thinking? How can we be confident that we won't lose the plot by trying to put together those puzzle pieces? And more importantly: will we get long-term gains, or will we inflict more unforeseen problems by focusing too much on the small building blocks rather than the whole system?

Difficult questions. Org Topologies™ doesn't have all of them answered for us. But being a framework-agnostic approach for designing agile ecosystems where business and technology would work as one, it can provide us with a solid basis on which all other decisions can be grounded. Essentially, Org Topologies™ moves us from the dualism of frameworks vs. DIY methods into the realm of ecosystems - a unity of interdependent organizational parts that together exhibit well-recognized behaviors. 

In this session, two co-creators of Org Topologies™, Alexey Krivitsky and Roland Flemm, will share a method to design, assess and improve your organizational ecosystem. They will do that by familiarizing you with a set of organizational archetypes that are easy to spot in any organization. Hopefully, by the end of the talk, you will have much better clarity on which organization ecosystem you want to build and which behaviors you expect it to exhibit. Eventually, you shall be able to take this tool home and use it with your leadership group as a map in your ongoing, never-ending transformation journey toward agility.


Session details

This session is presented by Alexey and Roland using slides and joyful stories. We will have multiple interactions with the audience where we will ask them questions and give the people the opportunity to discuss with their neighbors.


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