Stink Eye On Steroids (Las Vegas 2020)

We were “those” people. We were one of the internal governance teams in a Fortune 50 company impeding the ability to fully move to product, agile and devops. It was so painful that our governance product was voted to the top 3 list of the most painful internal processes in all of technology. Join me through comic relief as I tell our story about the approach we took to change it and became the trailblazing product for other governance teams to follow.


Jill Mead

Group Product Manager - Project to Product Coach, US Bank



Hi, my name's Jill and five years ago, this was me. This was my mugshot. Yeah, me despite what you probably are thinking, I promise you I wasn't in jail. No, I didn't get booked for too many speeding tickets, nor was I arrested for road rage, but I was in an interesting situation. You could say I was in a bit of a jam. Okay. Okay. My customers had it out for me. They were extremely unhappy. The amount of stink I received was enormous. See, I had one of the most disliked governance processes in a fortune 50 technology organization. You might be wondering, what does this have to do with my presentation? Well, here's the thing. I was living proof that my governance process could easily align with the future of dev ops product and agile. Yeah, you got that right later in this presentation, I will let you in on five proven factors that can be applied to any governance, product transformation without these pieces in place.


I believe that we wouldn't have been as successful as we were so stay tuned. And if I have anything to do with it, you are going to go from this to this. My name is Jill Mead, and I'm an organizational change strategists and project to product coach. This is stink-eye and steroids, and I hope you enjoy it. Best place to start is here at the beginning. So here's the thing. I worked for a fortune 50 retailer for about seven years. And I was so thankful to be part of every phase of their transformation to dev ops product and agile. As you can see here, there's three phases that I would consider part of this transformation pre transformation. So that's where a lot of the grassroots pieces happen. Changes are happening in various pockets of the organization, but true momentum hasn't necessarily started yet or significant change.


The middle section is the transformation period. So in our case, it was two years long, roughly give or take. And this is where a lot of change happened within that two year window. And you have the post transformation period, and this is where changes are still happening. They're just much smaller in nature and they're more iterative. And also, if you look at this, you'll see those mile markers and these mile markers were critical points throughout that transformation that made it what it was. So a few challenges among many that organizations have, and the fortune 50 retailer that I was at was not immune to where some of these lack of support support from executive leadership Project minded organization. This is where we were more focused on deadlines and tasks than we were on value delivered to the customer and frumpy processes and procedures. Yeah, I'm sure many of us see this today or in the past. And that's my focus of today. I want to talk about those frumpy processes and procedures. So here's where the story really heats up. There is a deep, fundamental problem when your processes take longer than it takes to actually engineer the solution, right? Here's a visual that illustrates that


Here's the value stream. So you have an idea to customer hands and many organizations. It takes some one, two, even three years to be able to deliver value to the customer. And that's the first time the customer seen this. So as you can see the actual engineering work, isn't very significant, but you know, what is significant all of the extra stuff around it and those stuff that stuff is in, in the form of lead times, approval gates, approvals, hopscotch activities, wild escapades, you name it. Our organization was plagued with a significant amount of process fatigue, sound familiar. This is traditional governance processes. So some of the characteristics that I would describe traditional processes are bloated, lethargic, dictating, costly, strict, and manual. And this is where the story gets a bit interesting. I want to introduce you to the painful process campaign. So this is where our organization recognized that all of these processes and procedures were impeding their ability to be able to move in the direction of dev ops product and agile. And so something needed to be done about that. So part of this campaign was introduced primarily for the technology organization, but I'm sure it evolved business as well in some aspects.


And this is where they voted the community of technologists voted for the most painful processes and procedures. And really what this has meant to do is provide visibility, awareness, and pressure to those teams to change. So the top five, you're probably wondering, well, of all the processes and procedures, what were the ones that bubble to the top? Well, here they are. But before we start, I just want you to think about your organization maybe now or in the past, and think about all those processes, procedures That have really sucked. Let me give you a moment here. All right. Are you ready? All right. These were our top five. So the most painful it's probably no surprise. I till change management, I feel like that's on everybody's list. Technology, access requests, sound familiar, Hardware, laptop, procurement security processes, and risk processes. Yeah, that was our top five. And guess what? One of those was mine. Yeah. You heard that, right. It was mine. I believe that this campaign was a pivotal point, particularly for governance teams. If you remember that prior graphic that I shared with you around the different phases of the transformation, you can see those mile markers. This was definitely a mile marker that I believed that helped transform governance, processes and teams. All right. So what's worse than having a product in a fortune 50 technology organization that everybody hates got any ideas.


You guessed it being the product owner of a product that everybody hates in a fortune 50 technology organization. And guess who that was. That was me. That was me five years ago. So what they don't tell you about being a product owner of a product that everybody hates is just how interesting your life gets. So here's some insight into the day of the life of a product owner of a product that everybody really dislikes customers randomly walk out of your meetings. A few minutes after they start flying chairs, become a business as usual activity. Honestly, it got to a point where I didn't even flinch. When I saw chair come through the air and the engineering customers created an emoji for me, How creative and wait for it, the guy, Yeah, you guessed it. The stink-eye plagued me not only during the day, but at night. It's not like I could run away from my customers. I mean, my customers were everywhere. I was when I was in the office, not to mention in my dreams. So how bad was my bad process? It could be that bad, right? No, it was really bad. So here's some of the stats


Per one change record. I required 75 plus required data fields. Yeah. 75 plus data fields, a hundred plus business rules were built into the particular tool. And to end, There was a 14 day lead time to get into the enterprise cab. $1.1 million was spent per year on enterprise cab. And just so that, you know, In a full year, we only counted one change that was rejected by that board. A hundred plus kick clicks. And to end zero API is available for all our automation customers 200, our average change duration, meaning we really didn't know when changes were happening because it was within 200 hours of each other And two to four approvals. Yeah. Two to four approvals on one change record. Yikes. So here's some honorable mention. I mentioned B prior that the cab rarely rejected a change. We required a meeting before the cap meeting. So we had like five of our team members that were involved in manually checkbox scene and making sure that people were ready before the actual cab meeting And customers would create one change for many changes and the window would be outrageously long. So here's an example. They would create one change that would be seven days long and they would have 30 changes embedded in there. So you're probably wondering how did it get so bad? All right. I like to break down something for you. All right. And I like to call it death by a million band-aids created by me


Here it is. Processes usually start out pretty lean, right? It's kind of like dating, But then over time, what happens is year by year goes by, and these band-aids continually be added to that process. Every single time, something bad happens. A band-aid gets put on top of it. Another lead time, another data field, another business rule. And before you know it, you have this big fat lethargic process. See the activity of adding and never taking away debilitates your customers. So here's the truth bomb for you. More manual process, doesn't equal a reduction in risk and I'll show you why. See what often happens is data quality process quality takes. Think about it. The more you add to people's plate, the less quality you get Next people will find the path to least resistance. I like to call this cow paths.


They will find ways around it or ways to lessen the burden. And lastly, manual actions lead to lack of consistency and increased chance of errors and impact, right? The more manual work you do, the less consistent things get, make sense, right? So now I want to introduce you to modern processes in the digital age. So here they are, here are the characteristics simple, lean and powering flexible, automated, creative, experienced centric, decentralized and embedded. Now just by those characteristics, doesn't that sound better? It does. Every sports season has a comeback story, right? Well, this was our wild card moment. We started with our team mindset. So we no longer thought of ourselves as a governance team.


Did you know that the way that you think of yourself often ref often impacts your behaviors? Well, we wanted to change that. So our new mindset as a team was that we were customer centric. We were enabling, we were empowering, empathetic, collaborative, and we were guiders. We were extremely Bizible involved and transparent with our customers to understand the customers. We became the customers. An example of this was we took a sabbatical in the dojo for three months to truly understand our engineering customers. So we got into their tools. We tried to understand, get hub, those things matter, and those things can build major credibility with your customers. We, through our current process, out the door and we started fresh. See the past has ways of debilitating the future. And at that point we had so much processed fat that we needed to just focus on building the new, and that's what we did.


I'm all for incremental improvement, but this was not the case. Our goal was to create a great customer experience for all customers, not just the automation customers, but for the manual customers who use normal change for the, the customers, the manual customers that use standard change. That was our goal. Next, we identified the key people with the right attitude and ability to help drive the change. I cannot focus on this enough of how important it is to really understand and utilize your player's strengths. So let's face it. A lot of these governance teams, they have people that are part of building that existing process or product. And so there's, there's a lot of emotion there and we have to be sensitive to that, right? And so it often leads to resistance. We had major internal organizational resistance and the way that we approached it was we understood the individuals on the team and what they brought to the table.


And in some cases we had influencers that could influence some of those resistant individuals. And in some cases, some of those resistant individuals there, weren't going to make it to where we needed to go. And so some tough decisions had to be made at that point, but I cannot stress enough understand and utilize your player's strengths. You're not going to be able to hire a full new governance team with a totally new mindset. So you're going to have to play with what you have next. We executed a creative organizational change strategy, and I'll tell you that this was a critical piece To our success. We developed relevant, provocative, consistent communication and engagement. And that was a top priority for us. We did product marketing and branding at its finest. An example of this is As part of the change. We created various events where customers could come in, we called it a workout day and we made it super fun. We had treats there. Anybody can walk in the door and we had little tables set up. So if there's a question about a particular piece of the process that they were confused about, we would direct them to that particular table and they would get their aunts, their question answered, and they talk about various aspects of, of that subject.


But the key message here is that they were, we were visible. We were there, they knew change was happening. We communicated consistently. So the results. So you want to hear what happened in our story? All right, here it is. I'll share with you the two different user experiences. So we had the manual user experience Where we were able to take our bloated nasty change process from those totals, as you can see, and we brought them to the totals on the right. So look at this manual data fields, we went from 75 chain, 75 plus Data fields to 12 Business rules built into the change tool we needed to simplify. We went from hundred plus to 26, A centralized enterprise cab. We decentralized the cab Average change duration. We moved that down to eight hours. So our support staff helped us staff could be able to see, Hey, if impact was occurring on the front lines, there was a better chance to be able to peg that to a particular change that may have caused it, and hopefully be able to back it out. Approvals went from two to four to, we had one approval on that manual change record clicks was 120 plus to 22 clicks. And to end on a given change and our net promoter score obviously was bottom of the barrel because we were voted as the worst and technology. And now our net promoter score was 60, which is pretty darn good.


Now for the automation user experience, very, very exciting for all you dev ops peeps out there. So from an automation user experience, the numbers speak for themselves. I'm not going to go through them, but you can see that it was impactful. So we were able to create a change API and expose that to our customers. And initially it took a bit, bit of time to get adoption on it, but over time it's spoke for itself. And here's some honorable mention for you. So there was no rise in incident counts, and that was the biggest fear. Initially, when we decided, Hey, we're not going to do an enterprise cavity more and we're going to decentralize it. Our engineering customers made the decision to remove the flaming dumpster fire emoji. This is huge. It's not like we were the ones that said they had to remove it. They decided to do it themselves. Isn't that awesome. And we created an inspiring domino effect across the organization. So we were essentially one of the first teams, governance teams to lean in, to transforming and aligning our governance process to the future of digitalization and other governance teams noticed. And they started changing as well.


And just so that, you know, I have no fear of falling asleep in fear of the stink-eye. All right. So here's my tips, tips for you to walk away. So if you're a governance team and you're wondering, where do I start, or if you're an engineer and you're trying to influence change, send them here. So one lose the governance ego in this new world. We should not have egos. We are no longer governance. We're no longer command and control in the future. We're collaborative, We're partners, and we need to meet our customers where they're at number two, commit to an identity change. It's not about the process and tool change in itself.


It's about changing the way that you think. And so it's important for your governance team to really think about your identity in this new organization. There's a lot of different exercises and workshops that you can do to be able to ground your team to that new identity. And the other thing too, is don't be afraid to communicate that identity to your customers, rebrand yourself. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Number three, product dies your governance process. So here's the thing just because you have a governance process, doesn't mean it can't follow product management principles. There's so many good things that happen with product management. And so it's important for you to adopt a lot of those pieces. Some examples are personas. You need to understand your customers. You need to understand their pain points and their challenges so that you know, what you're building for.


Another thing that you can do is you can do discovery like we did. We spent a lot of time with our customer in their space, in their tools to understand them. That is absolutely critical. And again, you are going to gain a ton of credibility with your customers, with that approach for, don't be afraid to start over some of these processes in these large, medium bureaucratic organizations have had these processes in place for decades. No, I'm not kidding here decades. So here's the thing. Sometimes it's just, isn't worth rehashing the spaghetti mess. Sometimes you just need to have a blank whiteboard and literally vision out what the future should be. Number five. And I cannot stress this enough, put emphasis on an organizational change strategy. So do you know that one of the biggest reasons organizations fail in their transformation efforts is because teams just don't know about it and they haven't been clearly communicated to throughout the journey.


Yeah, here's the thing. Change management is a big deal. It's not just about communication. It's about engagement. It's about being visible. It's about being there throughout that entire journey and letting your customers know where you are in that journey. It's important. And I cannot stress that enough. And I do have to say that was one of the areas that we did exceptionally well. And lastly, and this is a bonus persevere and stay strong. The journey is extremely difficult. I can't tell you how much of an emotional roller coaster. It was over the three years that we took to transform this lethargic process, but it was worth it. And I am so glad that I, and my team continued. There were days where it seems like every meeting, I had different feelings, I would go from super excited in the morning to the next hour. I was sad and the next I was crying, but you know what?


That is. Transformation. It's hard. If it was easy, you'd be transformed already. So if you guys are interested in more of the intricate details of how we aligned our ITIL change management PR practice to the future of digitalization, you're in luck. I have an EA guide available today and I'll provide some of those details here after let's talk. I love to hear from you guys, here's my contact information. Feel free to reach out to me. If you have any questions or you just want to run something past and you're like, how did you guys possibly handle that? I'd love to work with you. Thank you, viewers. You're watching stink-eye and steroids, and I hope you enjoyed it. See you soon.