Leadership plays a central role in tactical and strategic decision-making and balancing change and stability. Navigating this intersection requires strong leadership that can make difficult decisions, communicate effectively with stakeholders, and maintain a clear vision for the future. On the one hand, leaders must make short-term, tactical decisions that address immediate needs and challenges. On the other hand, they must also consider the organization's long-term strategic direction and ensure it is aligned with its goals. Additionally, leaders must find a way to balance the need for change to adapt and stay competitive with the need for stability, which is necessary for the organization to function effectively. The goal, after all, is to achieve optimal outcomes by prioritizing collective interests over the individual, localized self-interests.
One of the critical issues leaders face in modern enterprises is how they rely heavily on IT systems to operate efficiently and effectively. These systems support internal operations and often serve as key differentiators in the market. As the emphasis on digital transformation continues to grow, adopting new platforms, systems, and processes have become increasingly important. However, this process can be challenging, and enterprises frequently encounter several common issues during their digital transformation journey. Some of the most common challenges include the following:
- Silos and Complexity: Many silos and dependencies exist within the organization, while friction and confusion can hinder the speed of processes.
- Adaptability: Able to adapt/react to unexpected changes.
- Low-grade quality and engagement: Customers need to be more satisfied, focused, and connected. Support costs are high.
- Expensive: Technical debt consumes a large portion of the budget, leaving little room for innovation.
- Unmanageable: Significant effort or a mandate is required to pivot (core products/services).
- Time to market: A high-quality product developed fast to provide value.
To address these challenges exposed before, leadership needs to promote the adoption of next-generation platforms. At the same time, enterprises must shift their traditional management and operational approach to one based on proven software development methodologies. They need to prioritize capabilities rather than roles and treat platforms as products.
Focusing on the Platform's desired state
Our recommendation to IT leaders is to implement Platform-as-a-Product (platforming) as the default technology adoption and operation methodology. This approach will allow organizations to rapidly build capabilities and develop features and services based on the needs of applications and business objectives.
The following are the fundamental principles of the platforming operating model:
- The platform team manages the platform as a product and continuously improves its lifecycle to optimize customer and developers' experience. The goal of this team is to smoothly transfer the platform to the value streams, focusing on ease of use and the ability to consume the platform to minimize cognitive load.
- Build a modern, efficient architectural foundation in which resources are shared and reused.
- Achieve operational excellence through an SRE model that involves collaboration and agreements between operations, development, and business teams.
- Establish a trusted and automated software and data supply chain with an integrated CI/CD pipeline covering requirements, development, security, testing, and deployment. Implement compliance as code, automated by policy for objective attestation.
- Goals are measurable and observable, with visualized organizational OKRs to reduce confusion and promote alignment.
- Provide self-service options to enable frictionless development and service consumption.
- Developing a community to share assets leads to faster composability and shorter time to value.
There are several reasons why people may choose to embrace the platforming approach:
- Efficiency: The platforming approach aims to optimize the entire lifecycle of a platform as a product, from development to deployment and maintenance. By streamlining these processes, organizations can increase efficiency and reduce costs.
- Collaboration: The platforming approach encourages collaboration between different teams, such as operations, development, and business. This can lead to better communication and more effective decision-making.
- Time-to-value: Consider strategic and tactical views of the process, focusing on defining and delivering value while eliminating bottlenecks.
- Cost Management: Product development teams can accelerate development and deployment cycles through automation, reducing initial build costs and update and maintenance costs.
- Customer/Employee Satisfaction: Customer and employee satisfaction improves as value is delivered predictably, with increased transparency and opportunities for feedback.
- Proactive approach: Move from reactive decision-making to proactive product, portfolio, and program management.
- Infrastructure Modernization: Improved infrastructure utilization and consolidation, moving to more modern platforms that could host containers to reduce the number of customer virtual machines (VMs) and streamline the application process.
- Create alignment: Senior leaders and customers come together to address strategic and pressing opportunities.
- Identify Opportunities: Observe processes to understand the flow and identify opportunities for improvement. Collect data on leadership and teaming behaviors, effectiveness, and change readiness.
- Create Teams: Establish cross-functional teams to continuously deliver value and ensure leadership engages critical stakeholders across the organization.
- Entrust: Empower teams to take ownership of value delivery and provide them with the necessary resources for success.
- Establish Partnerships: Partner with cross-organization leaders to drive sustainable and scalable results.
- Benchmark: Determine KPIs and OKRs that are simple to track and celebrate.
In conclusion, leadership is vital in balancing tactical and strategic decision-making and managing organizational change and stability. Adopting the platforming approach, which involves treating platforms as products and prioritizing capabilities over roles, can help enterprises overcome common challenges in their digital transformation journey.
Here are a few books to help with your journey:
- Wilder, B. (2012). Cloud Architecture Patterns (ISBN: 9781449319779)
Forsgre, N., Humble, J., Kim, G. (2018). Accelerate (ISBN: 9781942788331)
- Kim, G., Humble, J., Debois, P., Willis, P. (2016). The DevOps Handbook (ISBN: 9781942788003)
- Davis, C. (2019). Cloud Native Patterns (ISBN: 9781617294297)
- Martin, RC., (2017). Clean Architecture: A Craftsman's Guide to Software Structure and Design (ISBN: 9780134494166)