The Science Behind High Performing Organisations [Book Review] | Hacker Noon

@azarboonMahdi Azarboon

Digital Transformer |Investor | Bitcoin hodler

Title: ACCELERATE. The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations By Gene Kim, Jez Humble, and Nicole Forsgren

Summary: Authors conducted an extensive survey among 23000 participants across 2000 organisations (from start up to corporations) aiming to find out differences between high & low performing organisations. They put a great effort to make sure that the result is unbiased and reflects the reality. They presented the result in the book and here are my main take away:

  • Organizations can measure software delivery performance across teams using following KPIs: Lead Time, Deployment Frequency, Mean Time to Restore (MTTR), Change Fail Percentage. High performing organizations have higher deployment frequency (multiple times per day), lower change lead time (less than an hour), lower MTTR (less than an  hour) and lower change failure rate (between 0-15%) compared with low performing organisations.
  • Continuous delivery and lean practices lead to less rework, less deployment pain, less burnout, less rework, higher productivity, better software delivery performance, more job satisfaction, generative culture (as described by Westrum’s organisational culture) and ultimately to better organizational performance (more $$$ for company).

High performing organisations:

  • Empower their teams to make decision by their own (minimal
    management approval is required for deployment) and to experiment. In addition, teams can choose their own tooling.
  • Empower their teams to build secure software
    from scratch rather than policing them and slowing them down. They achieve this
    through coaching, sharing best security practices and providing relevant tools.
    It is inefficient to wait for security engineers to audit every single app.
  • Use trunk based development, and have exponentially higher deployment frequency. They deploy multiples times per day, and each new feature & deployment typically takes less than a day.

In addition, transformational leadership positively affects technical and
lean capabilities. Followings are five traits of transformational leadership:

  • Vision
  • Inspiration communication
  • Intellectual stimulation (i.e. encourage innovation, creativity and critical thinking.
  • Supportive leadership
  • Personal recognition (praise when someone / a team does a good job)

Transitioning from low & medium performer to a high performing organisation, requires dedication and sustained effort. There is no shortcut for that. Organisations can neither buy / outsource the change nor can copy other companies change strategy. Instead, they need to start the change from inside organisation, encourage culture of experiment, and empower their teams for autonomy. However, during the process, organisations can get some help / coaching from outsiders, learn from other companies’ successful change strategy. They can try those strategies and see what works for them. Remember, what works for others, doesn’t necessary work for you. To get some idea about best practices for team, management and leadership, checkout a detailed list which you can find in this link, audiobook companion, Figure 16.4

Pros: Some people still think that digital transformation and modern software practices are mainly buzzwords. The book provides a good evidence on how those practices provide value.

Cons: The book is academic and research-based. If you are not into this kind of work, you may not find it interesting to go through.

Who should (not) read the book? If you have read books about digital transformation, most probably you will not find something new in this book. This book mainly provides statistical facts on the benefits of transformation and modern software practices. Though if you
would like to explore the impacts in detail / convince organisations
to start change, you may find the book useful.

Any hack to read it faster? You can go through the audiobook companion (from this link) as it clearly outlines the main points. In addition, you can jumpstart and read Part Three: Transformation in the book.

I would like to thank the authors for writing the book.

If you have any comment/feedback on my reviews, please share it. I would like to improve it. You can follow me on LinkedIn / Twitter to stay tuned.
Meanwhile, you can find list of all my publications under this link.

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