Success in BizDevOps demands more than combining business, development, and operations. Collaboration, communication, and decision-making are crucial. Discover how to foster a supportive culture through personal networks and social operating mechanisms for better delivery outcomes.
BizDevOps is a central topic in value stream-driven business architectures
In nowadays value stream-driven business architectures, BizDevOps is a central topic. It refers to the collaboration between cross-functional teams. The goal is to efficiently orchestrate the continuous development and deployment of customer-oriented products and services. The implementation of BizDevOps is influenced by the corporate culture, affecting collaboration, communication, and decision-making. But what does a culture originate from?
Every individual, whether in an executive or operational role, has their respective values, social norms, and specific behaviors formed over time through the environment, education, and career path. These values and social norms are collectively referred to as “mindset” which determines behavior. When individuals with different mindsets start to share a joint working environment like a team, they unconsciously negotiate their values, social norms, and behaviors. This negotiation process is mutually reflexive and highly dynamic and takes time –it is often described in phases such as “forming, storming, norming, performing, adjourning.” Once completed, the implicitly negotiated values, norms, and behaviors of the team are fixed in rituals, which are collectively referred to as “cultural artifacts.”
The benefits of personal networks
Organizations have learned to leverage the knowledge of the different nuances within various teams. For example, Google created a “team charter” to prevent misunderstandings and to facilitate collaboration with other teams. Dropbox added the “New Hire Wish” as a mandatory part of onboarding. Each team member presents a personal object representing a wish for future collaboration.
This shows that culture emerges when individuals with the same mindset share a common environment. Whereas the sum of all subcultures creates an organization’s culture. Culture-evolving dynamics seem to occur along the relationships of individuals, also known as “personal networks”. If leadership supports these networks by linking individuals for the sake of increased density, these self-referencing and self-reinforcing dynamics enable teams to exchange information more efficiently and to collaborate more closely. Moreover, the networks’ members provide mutual support which leads to intrinsic motivation and proactivity toward a shared goal. This effect can even be leveraged by introducing means of self-organization, for instance decision autonomy within agreed boundaries.
Culture offers more than just a shared identity
Evidence from transformation frameworks like SAFe or Scrum@Scale implies that linked individuals also share knowledge even outside of their personal networks. This leads to a strong form of mutual support across teams or resilient structures, respectively. In that regard, leadership support strengthens the formal organization demonstrably – even in times of uncertainty. For example, in 2008, when the economic crisis was at its peak, Zappos decided not to lay off individuals but instead to provide targeted training measures and employee events. The instilled trust in its workforce paid-off in regards of employee commitment and, ultimately, sustained delivery.
The example underlines that culture offers more than just a shared identity, a sense of belonging, or orientation in everyday work. It helps in situations of high uncertainty to reduce cultural entropy by conveying psychological safety to its members. Thanks to this safe environment, individuals can focus on strengthening their relationships within their personal networks. This leads to even stronger collaboration, increased quality of outcomes and, ultimately, a strengthened delivery of the overall organization.
Social operating mechanismen can be a big help
The use of social operating mechanisms can be an effective approach for achieving this goal. It is a methodological principle that facilitates individual’s interactions. Organizations can choose from various methods depending on their organizational structure and prevailing culture. Mystery Coffee, Brown-Bag Lunch, Organization Breakfast, Employee-2-Employee Training, Hackathons, or Mentoring are possible options. The purpose of these methods is to link individuals so that they build trustworthy relationships across hierarchies and functions.
Personal networks can evolve organizations
In their very beginning, relationships lead to collaboration within a topic of individual’s very interest. Over time, they recognize reliable patterns in the behavior of the other, perceive equitable treatment, and judge their relation as trustworthy. So, transparency in the behavior patterns evolves trust which further settles psychological safety. I also increases the efficiency of information exchange. In that regards, personal networks do not only stabilize organizations. They also evolve them since information exchange and mutual trust jointly promotes ground-level innovation and, ultimately, bottom-up evolution.
The focus of organizations should, howsoever, not be limited to those network-webbing activities that initiate and embed culture-evolving dynamics. Practice also shows the benefits of organizational guardrails to foster self-organization. This covers for example methodology-wise Team Competency Matrix, North Star Guidance, or Delegation Boards. Evidence thereby implies the need of joint agreements as of co-created alignments, since including affected individuals leads to significantly higher identification and acceptance.
Efficient colloaboration is essential for the success of BizDevOps
In its essence, efficient collaboration is essential for the success of BizDevOps. To do so, the team must speak a common language and share a common understanding of goals and requirements. In this context, culture plays a vital role in creating a supportive environment where individuals feel secure to work and communicate openly with each other. A supportive culture fosters psychological safety, which helps resolve conflicts, promote innovation, and make faster and better decisions. To build a supportive culture, Social Operating Mechanisms and self-organization can be used to initiate personal networks. This helps to stabilize and evolve the organization and enables resilient delivery even in volatile, uncertain, or ambiguous situations. As BizDevOps plays a crucial role in the direct value-creation process of an organization, fostering a supportive culture is especially critical for the team to perform at their best.
Dr. Fabian Grupe