Las Vegas 2020

Leading for Better Value Sooner Safer Happier

Leadership will make it or break it.

Culture is the biggest lever to delivering Better Value Sooner Safer Happier.

This talk is aimed at leaders at all levels.

We take a look at the antipatterns to avoid and the success patterns which lead to the delivery of Better Value Sooner Safer Happier.


Jonathan Smart

Partner, Enterprise Agility, Deloitte



Thank you, David and Jessica. The next speaker is John smart. I met him in 2016 when he headed up the ways of working at Barclay's and organization founded in the year 1634, which predates the invention of paper cash in his role. John had an amazing reputation of doing things in a way very different than the traditional norms inside of an organization that has one of those highly evolved bureaucracies on the planet. Having had centuries to protect itself. I mentioned in my opening remarks that his definition of dev ops of better value, sooner, safer, and happier is one of my favorite definitions. And I'm so delighted that this phrase has been uttered so many times on the DevOps enterprise stage showing just how impactful his work has been on this community. This is one of the many reasons why I'm so happy that he's on the programming committee of this conference sooner, safer and happier is also a title of his amazing new book coming out next month. It's a fantastic book and I think it fills some now obvious gaps in the management literature and holy cow, I had so much admire the quote from Dave Snowden on his book cover. He is now a partner of business agility at Deloitte, and I'm so excited to have him share his perspectives on what we now require from both technology and business leaders. Please welcome John smart,


Frustrated, tearful,






SCAD frightened




Alone. Hi, my name is John, and I'm going to talk today about behavior and how it is the biggest lever for better outcomes specifically how leadership behavior is the biggest lever for better value, sooner, safer, and happier. This talk is aimed at leaders at all levels. This is not about other people as leaders. This is about you as a leader. So this talk is for you and it's for leaders at all levels. And in this talk, I'm going to share some anti-patterns and patterns for leading for better outcomes. First of all, let's have a look at what what's going on here and what has changed. So unless you've been living under a rock, you will know that the world of work has changed. We've gone from the age of oil and mass production. This is the Ford factory in Detroit. This is around about, uh, 19, 19 10, 19 20.


Um, we've come from the age of all the mass production. This is what organized human endeavor used to be predominantly. There was mass producing, identical widgets, identical things. It could be making wheels for the car, making a gas tank or a petrol tank for the car. It was repetitive work and it was knowable. If something went wrong, you knew how to fix it. Now we've gone from the age of all the mass production to the age of digital, and then using these words, I'm quoting Kolata Paris who wrote about the 50 to 60 year repeating cycles of technology led revolution in the age of digital. This is like going from the stone age to the bronze age. We have new tools. We have a new means of production and this work is unique. It is not repetitive. It is not work. And it is unknowable.


When writing software, you don't write the same software, a hundred thousand times on an assembly line. You write it once the computer runs it a hundred thousand times. Every time you write software, it's unique. Whenever we create a technology and information technology product, it's unique, whenever you install that information technology products, even if it's a big vendor system that is still a unique environment, the work is fundamentally unknowable and it involves collaboration in the Detroit factory in Ford, in the early 19 hundreds, more than 50 languages were spoken. The reason that didn't matter was because people were not speaking to each other. They didn't need to have a common language when you're doing the same task day in and day out. Clearly, as you can see in these photos, now collaboration is super important. The pace of change is getting faster. So this was a survey 3,300 people were asked the question, what's the difference between a digital environment and a traditional one.


The number one answer is the pace of business. It's speed. It's the rate of change. The number two answer was culture mindset learning. Risk-taking the number three answer was flexible, working collaboration and transparency, people collaborating and working together. And the fourth answer was productivity and continuous improvement. So the world has got faster in terms of the 14th state of agile report, which came out in May, 2020, yet again, it finds that culture is the biggest challenge to better. The ways of working four, the top five reasons are behavioral reason. Number one is the biggest challenge is general organizational resistance to change reason. Number two is not enough leadership participation. Number three, organization culture is at odds with agile values and inadequate management support and sponsorship at number four. So again, four of the top five impediments to better ways of working are behavioral.


So in this tool, we're going to look at some common anti-patterns and patterns. And I like this language around anti-patterns and patterns because there is no one size fits all for emergent work. There's no such thing as best practice. However, there are approaches which will give you a tailwind and there are approaches which will give you a headwind. The anti-patterns will give you a headwind that will make it harder for you to be more successful. So patterns will give you a tailwind and they will make it easier on the whole. Your mileage may vary. So if we look at these anti-patterns, I'm going to talk about first one do, as I say, not as I do, the second one is psychologically unsafe. The third one is a deterministic mindset. And then the corresponding patterns are leaders go first, psychological safety and an emergent mindset. So I'm going to look at each of these in turn, before we do that, let's just look at what and who is a leader?


What does that word really mean? Now? I found this quite fascinating. I looked into the origins of the word lead and it comes from old English and proton Germanic, and it means to guide and to travel. So it means to guide on a journey. And I really like the fact that that's the origins of the word lead. It's not sending someone off packing on a journey. Tell me when you get there, send me a postcard. It's guiding on a journey it's going on the same journey as other people. So I really love that, that the origins of the words around guiding all the journey and accompanying interestingly, there is nothing about the origins of the word lead to do with command or commit or order. When you look at the origins of the word command, um, the origins come from two words, commit and mandate.


It's, it's a fundamentally different word. So I think it's really interesting to look at the difference between commanding and leading. So if we were to take a commander on the left, the commander as a position, it's for a few it's. If you're in that position, you can be a commander. You can be the commander-in-chief, you give orders, the order, the obeying, but the order is mandatory. There is extreme motivation. Well, that means his motivation to comply is outside of yourself, you feel that you have to do it because it's mandatory. And what that means is you don't have the inbuilt, um, desire to see that through. And you may do things which you feel are unethical because you've been ordered to do it. And power is positional. However, if you look at a leader, leader is about a behavior and a mindset. Anybody can be a leader, and there are leaders at all levels. And a leader listens, listens to people, actively inspires people with the mission and the vision, the collectively bringing together the vision and informs and keeps people informed as to the journey. Following is voluntary and motivation is intrinsic because I'm voluntarily following somebody because they are inspiring keeping me up to date. And the listening to me, I'm choosing to follow that person. So therefore I have internal motivation and I'm far more likely to have a successful outcome when I'm doing it because I'm choosing to do it.


Um, power is given by followers. Power is not innate. Commander and leader are not mutually exclusive. A commander can be a leader and a leader. Sometimes for example, when in danger or in chaos may dip into being a commander. However, in modern ways of working in the pivot from the age of oil and mass production, where it was very much around managers and workers are very much around being a commander, being a foreman or a worker, taking the orders. Now people need to be more of a leader and less of a commander.


And in terms of the goal, the goal here around outcomes, it's not about agile lean or dev ops. The goal is not agile lean or dev ops for their own sake. They are a means to an end. They're not the end. The goal is delivering better value, sooner, safer, happier. The goal is delivering improved outcomes where agile lean and DevOps are bodies of knowledge to improve the outcomes. So if we take a quick look at better value in that safer, happier, better it's quality, and this is building quality in not knowingly passing a quality issue down the line Value is the reason you're in business. It's the organized human endeavor. It's why you're doing what you're doing. It could be revenue, it could be market share. It could be diversity. It could be carbon emissions


Sooner is lead time throughput and flow efficiency. It's time to learning time to de-risk time to monetize. It's throughput. The number of items of value it's trying to get the most value in the shortest amount of time and flow efficiency is the amount of time that work is being worked on versus work is waiting for me. Flow efficiency is one of the most important measures and it's probably one of the least measured measures in organizations safer is continuous compliance. It's agile, not fragile. It's InfoSec, it's data, privacy, it's governance, risk and control. It's making sure that, uh, that everything is safe and that customers will trust you with that data and their information. And then happier is happier colleagues, customers, citizens, and climate, because it is not at any cost to society or to the planet in terms of improving outcomes. So now we're going to move on to the anti-patterns. We're going to take a look at each of the three intern.


The early on in my career, I was a project manager and the boss I had at the time was someone who did not take good, bad news. Well, he would very much shoot the messenger. And as time went on, I found myself bearing bad news, whether it was about timescale or cost overruns time and time again, to the extent it got so bad that there was one piece of information I couldn't share with them prior to the project review board, I felt I had to shield myself from his anger by telling him the news in the public forum.


It's a coach that's, um, not just sort of disempowering, but also massively, um, negatively impactful to the work you do as well. So you end up in a position where, you know, you, as an individual are comfortable, the team are unhappy and ultimately in a client environment, the client consents that the customer cannot be satisfied. If the colleagues aren't satisfied, where do you end up with? You end up with a negative spiral and the team disbanded the entire piece of work collapsed, not through the individual lack of capability of any of the team members, but rather because the team itself imploded


The first anti-pattern is do, as I say, not as I do. This is where a leader sits around the table with their arms crossed, saying, go on then transform by day. You and I've seen this multiple times at organizations where a leader or a commander, maybe more accurately, or a leadership team, um, expecting their own area, their own followers. They're expecting them to change how they work and they're expecting them to change how they behave. However, they're not exhibiting that behavior. They're not role modeling. They're not walking the talk. And that is very clear to people, um, that, that that's a lack of authenticity. So this is an anti-pattern to expect other people to change. And then for you as a leader to not change yourself. So as we'll see in the patterns, there's a need to lean in and exhibit courage and vulnerability to quote Frederick LA Lou. He was the author of reinventing organizations. The level of consciousness of an organization cannot exceed the level of consciousness of its.


So what tends to happen is if you have a leader at a certain level, in an organization who is, who is a leader, rather than the commander, a transformational leader, and they're supporting their team and adopting better ways of working as per this picture, you'll have a bubble of better ways of working, surrounded by a sea of previous traditional ways of working. So it is really, really important that it's the most senior leadership team possible. Is it embracing better ways of working so that that bubble covers more of your organization rather than just a part of it? Anti-pattern number two is psychologically unsafe. This is a culture of fear. So we saw at the beginning deep water horizon just one month before that tragic accident, before that disaster, more than half of the workers surveyed said there was a fear of report reprisal for reporting an unsafe situation. We also saw the space shuttle disasters in both of those cases. 17 years apart, engineers knew that were in knew there was an issue, try to escalate that issue And failed and were quashed. And in the, in the second case, We're actually told to stop escalating this issue having tried six times.


So there was, there was no listening, um, and it was psychologically unsafe environment. And, uh, the findings said that the same culture had continued, you know, between the two disasters. Another case in point is Boeing. So looking at the U S house committee, 7 37 max preliminary report from March, 2020, What it says in there from, uh, an internal Boeing 2016 survey is that 39% of employees surveyed, perceived undue pressure. 29% of the employees surveyed were concerned about the consequences of reporting that undue pressure. So there was fear, there was a culture of fear. There was a culture of concealment according to the report. And there is a disturbing picture of cultural issues according to the us house committee. And those pressures came through cost and schedule, unfortunately at the expense of safety. So it seems Anti-pattern number three is a deterministic mindset. So deterministic mindset is treating the world like it is fixed and knowable. This is back to the age of oil and mass production. This is a thinking error. This is trying to treat the age of digital and complex adaptive systems and the merchant work like it is predictable. It is a think big start, big learn, slow approach. It doesn't work. It is, misapplying a way of working to the current environment. Um, and it's, it's the continuation of milestones and rec status is along with the culture of fear


And nobody expects the agile in position. Um, unfortunately the agile imposition with a traditional mindset is, uh, is fairly common. Uh, and it shouldn't be, so this is a deterministic mindset of infecting agile ways of working agile lean or dev ops or polling organization, um, in a command and control commander top-down traditional mindset. Um, clearly that is an anti-pattern unfortunately a far too common anti-pattern. So now onto the patterns.


Okay. So working on a piece of work that's, um, we decided to work on it together, which meant that we had to find that time together. Um, and we sat down and brainstormed it, and there was a real feeling of, um, understanding that I knew the detail, um, but being able to position it together meant that we delivered a higher quality piece of work in what turned out to be between us a shorter period of time, which was a much more valuable experience for me, for my leader and for the organization I was working for.


I remember being on a team as a leader where I was, uh, pretty demoralized for awhile and a new leader stepped in, uh, during this time. And before that, every time I had mentioned that I was not happy, uh, there was a lot of talk that, you know, if you need to go, we hate to lose you, but we understand this new leader stepped in and without having all the background and the context, all he noticed was that I was a good worker and I was an effective leader. And when he finally found out that I was somebody who was looking to possibly leave the group, he went out of his way to create a position where I could actually have an impact where I was, because he really proved to me that he did not want to lose me as a team member. And he really made me feel as if I was an impact on the organization. I really appreciated that.


So a more recent work I've benefited from having an empowering visionary leader, um, who seeks to allow colleagues and teams to thrive, who actively seeks to serve the needs of team members, um, is adaptive and is someone who actively shows an interest in both the individual, their happiness, their well-being almost their employee net promoter score. Um, and in response gains are willing, infused, capable, connected, um,


Empowered colleague


I've progressed in my career. I've got a better idea of what good leadership looks like. I think. And, um, one of my more recent bosses was incredibly supportive. He made me feel I could discuss absolutely anything with him. And I think one of the ways he did this, was he every single one-to-one he started with, what, how can I help you? And you just said that, how can I help you once we've got some lovely pleasantries out the way I said, how can I help you? And that powerful statement made me realize that actually, between he and I, we could solve whatever pressing points were there and that he was there to really bounce ideas off and support me and really helped me move forward. And I respected him. So I did come to him with problems and he did give me different perspectives. But at the end of the day, he indicated by his behaviors and his, his words, the decision was mine. I'm really, I grew under his leadership so much more than I have under many of my other bosses. It really was. It made me feel great supported, and I've taken a lot of his practices into my leadership practice as well.


So pattern number one is leaders go first. So this is role modeling, the desired behavior. This is exhibiting courage and vulnerability because for new ways of working, it is difficult. It is fearful. It's about needing to redevelop mastery. It isn't, there's a need to unlearn and relearn, and that is uncomfortable and that is difficult. So it does require courage and it does require exhibiting vulnerability. And it is so, so important for you as a leader to role model that for people who are following you, um, you'll get things wrong. And that's part of this journey in an emergent domain team. In the age of digital, there's a need for experimentation. There is a need to feel safe to fail. So it's super important to, to role model the desired behaviors.


Part. Number two is psychological safety Google with project Aristotle studied what makes teams amazing. And the number one factor for high-performing teams was psychological safety. What that means is the ability for people to say, I don't know, I'm not sure, or yeah, I'll jump in and I'll give it a go. But I might fail. That was a bigger determinant for high-performing teams. Then who was on the team. Amy Edmondson has written a book called the fearless organization on this. And Amy's advice to, to, to increase psychological safety is a three-step process. First of all, set the stage. People will be conditioned to not bringing up bad news. So make it clear that it's not about personal blame, that it is about the system of work. Second invite participation, actively seek feedback, because again, people will not want to deliver bad news if they've been shocked in the past, or if they've been the messenger has been shot on the bad news has been buried. So invite participation, and then number three is to respond well. So active feedback to the feedback and to people opening up, uh, thanking people for their feedback and being seen to take action on that feedback. So this is really important again, where work is emergent. There is a need to experiment, and therefore there is a need to fail. There is a need for intelligent failure. Um, there's a need for experimentation and it isn't really failing. Uh, you could overly fail an experiment. You learn from it, and it's about maximizing learning.


So on intelligent failure, uh, this, these pictures, this is space X. This is a Falcon nine rocket deliberately being destroyed in order to test the launch escape process for the crew dragon capsule. And this I think is a great example of intelligent failure. This is deliberately destroying a craft to test it safety. Um, you know, and this is, this is what we should be having more of more intelligent failure. And as a leader, celebrating intelligent failure with, uh, with a limited impact radius and safe to fail, uh, one organization I know has a failure wall, um, in the past we've run awards and we've celebrated intelligent failure through awards


And pattern. Number three is an emergent mindset. So again, back to repetitive work versus unique work, there's a need for experimentation. There's a need for learning. There's a need for failing. And so an emergent mindset, doesn't try to predict the future. Now that doesn't mean there's no planning. It doesn't mean there's no roadmap. It doesn't mean there's no fixed dates because there are, there is a roadmap, there is a vision, however, it's not a fixed solution in 24 months time, it's an outcome hypothesis. It's a, an articulation of the future. It's a hypothesis that people can get behind. Um, so for example, it could be, you know, we want the most delighted customers, uh, compared to our competitors. Um, we want to be the number one firm for whatever, what it is that we do. So you have your outcome hypothesis, and then you test the hypothesis and you break it down.


You have a nested breadcrumb trail of outcome hypotheses, and you experiment, you amplify the experiments that work and you dump on the experiments that don't work and you celebrate learning. And this is with empowerment with multidisciplinary teams who are empowered to experiment to try to maximize their outcomes. And this is where happiness goes up because people have got a very clear purpose. There's high alignment and high autonomy. And this is where the, you know, there's so much more purpose and satisfaction in work. And there's this tweet, which I really like from Emily Campbell, which is what if we called them supporting lines instead of reporting lines, imagine replacing lines like these are my direct reports with these are the people I directly support. And I love that. I really, really liked the sentiment behind that. And this is about being more of a servant leader. Um, the leader parties, there is a need to coalesce around the vision around the mission around the outcome hypothesis.


That's the leader part. And the leader part is also in terms of guiding on the journey. It's encouraging people to experiment. It's encouraging people to adopt new ways of work, it's encouraging improvement. Um, and you know, I highly recommend looking at the Toyota improvement Carter and the toy to coaching Carter in terms of building improvement into daily work, where improvement is as important or more important than daily work. The servant part is being there to support the teams and being there to help clear the impediments and the blockers. And, you know, literally running up to the teams saying, dear team, how can I help, um, being there for the teams, uh, with, with the supporting lines.


So to recap, if you want better value, sooner, safer, and happier, there is a need to focus on a few things. The first one is to go first to guide on the journey, to lead to role model, to how to have courage and vulnerability. The second one is to foster psychological safety. People need to be able to experiment. Uh, I've seen one part of an organization where it was a mandate around ways of working. There was no psychological safety. There was a culture of fear and people did the bare minimum they needed to do in order to comply to the commander's orders and not surprisingly the outcomes didn't shift, they didn't actually get any better. And third is around leveraging emergence. Don't try to force everything into a GAM chart with milestones and a fixed plan and the fixed solution fixed to the point of knowing the least instead emergence can help you to add more value, more quickly maintain optionality for as long as you possibly can run experiments, because we don't know what we don't know,






Trusted, confident,




Nurturing, excited. So you just heard there how people feel when they have good leaders leading them for better outcomes. And personally, I believe that leadership is how you leave people feeling. So here's the help that I'm looking for. I'd like to hear shared stories of anti-patterns and patterns. So what have you seen in your organization or other organizations, which generally haven't worked and generally have worked, um, what you've seen, but also your own experiences as well. And, uh, I'm also interested in case studies, uh, as I know, Jean is as well. Um, so we'd love to hear case studies of where perhaps at an organization, part of an organization or the whole organization. Um, there's a case study here of where leaders have adopted, uh, better behaviors leading to better outcomes and, um, you know, hopefully as well, these will be talks for next year or the DevOps enterprise summit. Thank you.