Untitled Document
 Register Now & Save!
Untitled Document
2008 West Diamond Sponsor
Untitled Document
2008 West Platinum Sponsor
Untitled Document
2008 West Gold Sponsors
Untitled Document
2008 West Silver Sponsors
Untitled Document
2008 West Bronze Sponsors
Untitled Document
2008 West Exhibitors
Untitled Document
2008 West Media Sponsors
Untitled Document
2008 East Diamond Sponsor
Untitled Document
2008 East Platinum Sponsors
Untitled Document
2008 East Gold Sponsors
Untitled Document
2008 East Silver Sponsors
Untitled Document
2008 East Exhibitors
Untitled Document
2008 Media Sponsors
Latest News
"CA has been doing a lot of things in the area of ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine,...
Data scientists must access high-performance compu...
"NetApp is known as a data management leader but w...
"We're focused on how to get some of the attribute...
Long-term partners Fujitsu Limited and Citrix Syst...
"WineSOFT is a software company making proxy serve...
As you move to the cloud, your network should be e...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Michael Burley,...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5...
Can't Miss RSS Feed
Subscribe to the RSS Feed & Get All The Conference News As It Happens!
The DevOps Virus | @DevOpsSummit #Agile #DevOps #ContinuousDelivery
Selecting such teams throws a wrench in the entire works, limiting the value of self-organization

Whenever the conversation in a large organization circles around to how to be more innovative, someone always brings up a skunkworks.

According to Wikipedia, the original Skunk Works is Lockheed Martin's Advanced Development Programs (ADP), responsible for the design of several aircraft - an effort that continues to this day.

Over time, however, the term skunkworks has taken on a broader meaning. Innovation thought leader Everett Rogers (the fellow who coined the term early adopter) defined a skunkworks as "an especially enriched environment that is intended to help a small group of individuals design a new idea by escaping routine organizational procedures."

Rogers goes on to point out that "the research and development (R&D) workers in a skunkworks are usually specially selected, given special resources, and work on a crash basis to create an innovation."

For a large organization struggling with rigid hierarchies and the inflexible decision making that characterizes them, spinning off a skunkworks team seems to make sense. Set up a chic office space in a remote location, choose some particularly creative individuals, and tell them to go forth and innovate.

What could possibly go wrong?

If you've been following my research on self-organization, you might be able to discern the problem. When I talk about driving innovation with self-organizing teams, I emphasize that such self-organization includes expecting the participants to organize their own teams, give themselves their own goals, and determine for themselves how to measure their success.

In contrast, Rogers' definition of skunkworks points out that members of such teams are "usually specially selected." Good thing he added the word usually - because specially selecting such teams throws a wrench in the entire works, limiting the value of self-organization and thus the ability for the organization as a whole to become more agile.

The Skunkworks Catch
There are a number of reasons why assigning people to special teams responsible for driving innovation can be counterproductive - what I like to call the skunkworks catch.

First, the individuals in the team may find that their teammates are not their preferred choice for such an effort. Good managers will be familiar enough with the skill sets as well as the personal relationships and work preferences of the people they assign to a skunkworks team, but there's a measure of guesswork for even the best manager - and of course, many are far from being the best.

Perhaps the most significant problem with assigning people to a skunkworks team, however, is what such an assignment does to the morale of their colleagues left behind.

People generally regard getting selected for such a team as a privilege, with a variety of tangential perks as well as the core opportunity to work on something innovative. From the perspective of the other people in the organization, however, they're left with the grunt work - only now, even more grunt work as some of their colleagues had the good fortune to leave such drudgery behind.

Even if we set aside the adverse morale impact of a skunkworks team on the rest of the organization, there's always the real possibility that some of the people left off of the team are also particularly creative, and would thus have some real value to contribute toward developing innovations that move the needle for the business.

Reinventing the Skunkworks
The Agile Digital Transformation approach to building self-organizing teams, in contrast, is to expect individuals to form the teams themselves.

People should approach their work environment overall with a volunteer mindset, keeping their eyes open for better ways to provide value to the business.

If someone thinks they can come up with an innovation - either because they have an idea that might fly or simply because they would like to participate on a skunkworks team - they can chat with their colleagues across the organization and attempt to form such a team.

For organizations that have business agility as a strategic business driver, the role of management in this process is to communicate the strategic goals of the organization, provide the necessary resources, delineate the required constraints (for example, regulatory and security constraints), and then get out of the way.

Once the organization gets up to speed with self-organization, however, managers should no longer assign people to teams, assign tasks to teams, establish goals for teams, or decide on how teams' progress toward their goals should be measured. The people on those teams should take care of those tasks for themselves.

The self-organizing teams that result may decide to tackle various tasks depending upon the goals set out for the organization as a whole. Some such teams will focus on innovation, while others will decide to work on more tactical efforts.

Self-Organizing Beyond the Skunkworks

If you're used to thinking about large organizations in conventional ways - as most people are wont to do, unfortunately - then you're likely to see two problems with my suggestions regarding self-organized skunkworks teams: first, won't everybody jump at being on a skunkworks team, leaving routine work unfinished? And second, won't this whole process lead to a chaotic free-for-all, producing useless innovations that don't align with corporate goals or strategy?

The answer to these two problems is to learn the lesson of the DevOps Virus: self-organization should extend beyond the team level.

As we move to an organizational model consisting of a number of fluid, self-organizing teams, then self-organization will emerge at what we might call the ‘team of teams' level. In other words, if a skunkworks team is getting off-track, where its innovations appear to be misaligned to the goals of the organization, then other teams can decide amongst themselves to interact with the skunkworks team in question in order to bring the errant group back in line.

In other words, just because a team has decided to go the skunkworks route doesn't mean that lines of communication and influence that connect it to other teams are entirely severed. After all, people can still move into and out of teams as they and the teams decide, depending both on their personal preferences as well as the preferences of each team as a whole.

The goal is for all the teams taken together to have a naturally emerging self-correcting process that keeps everyone on track, even as business needs evolve and unexpected innovations change the playing field.

Just as individual teams can self-correct by deciding to eject a member, say, the entire organization can self-correct by influencing wayward teams to get with the program.

The Intellyx Take
By applying the principles of self-organization at both the team level and the team-of-teams level, we're essentially recommending an inclusive approach to skunkworks-based innovation rather than the traditional exclusive approach.

Whenever management imposes a separation on an organization where some people get a perceived benefit that others do not, morale issues quickly form and the end result is counterproductive. This is just as true for innovation as it is for Bimodal IT, where fast, digital teams get the perceived benefit over the poor souls relegated to slow, traditional IT.

In contrast, if the expectation is that people can choose their own teams and teams can choose their own goals, then the organization benefits in two fundamental ways: the morale issue goes away, and furthermore, the fast-moving, creative, innovative aspects of every individual in the organization can be brought to bear not just to drive business velocity and innovation, but to transform those parts of the organization that would otherwise velocity and innovation back.

The one missing piece of this Cortex which will have to wait till a future issue is the question of incentives (click here to subscribe to the Cortex newsletter). Given the freedom to choose their tasks, people will naturally gravitate toward the more interesting ones, and thus other important, but less fulfilling tasks risk getting neglected.

Instituting the appropriate incentives can help to balance this equation. However, traditional incentive strategies frequently go wrong. Agile organizations, therefore, must reinvent their incentive processes and policies as well. Stay tuned!

Intellyx advises companies on their digital transformation initiatives and helps vendors communicate their agility stories. As of the time of writing, none of the organizations mentioned in this article are Intellyx customers. Image credit: Greg Schechter.

About Jason Bloomberg
Jason Bloomberg is the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise. As president of Intellyx, Mr. Bloomberg brings his years of thought leadership in the areas of Cloud Computing, Enterprise Architecture, and Service-Oriented Architecture to a global clientele of business executives, architects, software vendors, and Cloud service providers looking to achieve technology-enabled business agility across their organizations and for their customers. His latest book, The Agile Architecture Revolution (John Wiley & Sons, 2013), sets the stage for Mr. Bloomberg’s groundbreaking Agile Architecture vision.

Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps best known for his twelve years at ZapThink, where he created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, the leading SOA advisory and analysis firm, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011. He now runs the successor to the LZA program, the Bloomberg Agile Architecture Course, around the world.

Mr. Bloomberg is a frequent conference speaker and prolific writer. He has published over 500 articles, spoken at over 300 conferences, Webinars, and other events, and has been quoted in the press over 1,400 times as the leading expert on agile approaches to architecture in the enterprise.

Mr. Bloomberg’s previous book, Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, 2006, coauthored with Ron Schmelzer), is recognized as the leading business book on Service Orientation. He also co-authored the books XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996).

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting).

Untitled Document

Call 201 802-3020 or Click Here to Save $100!

Save $100

 Sponsorship Opportunities

Virtualization Conference & Expo, California and London is the leading event in its third year covering the booming market of Virtualization for the enterprise. Now featuring Cloud Computing Expo, this leading event will surely deliver the #1 i-technology educational and networking opportunity of the year for leading Virtualization technology providers.



Who Should Attend?

Senior Technologists including CIOs, CTOs, VPs of technology, IT directors and managers, network and storage managers, network engineers, enterprise architects, communications and networking specialists, directors of infrastructure Business Executives including CEOs, CMOs, CIOs, presidents, VPs, directors, business development; product and purchasing managers.

Cloud Computing Bootcamp

Introducing at Cloud Computing Expo 2008 West the world's first-ever full one-day, immersive "Cloud Computing Bootcamp" - led by developer-entrepreneur Alan Williamson, Founder of Blog-City.com and creator of the OpenBlueDragon CFML runtime engine.

View the full one-day schedule

Video Coverage of Virtualization Conference
on SYS-CON.TV

David Greschler: Virtualization Beyond the Datacenter to the Desktop
Miko Matsumura: Time Oriented Architecture: Evolution by Design?
Brian Stevens: The Future of the Virtual Enterprise
Kevin Brown: Leveraging Desktop Virtualization for Security, Manageability and Usability Beyond the Perimeter

Video Coverage of the Virtualization Power Panel 2007

Virtualization Power Panel 2007 with Gordon Jackson, David Christian, Ken Jisser and Ben Rudolf

 Conference Media Sponsor: Cloud Computing Journal

Cloud Computing Journal aims to help open the eyes of Enterprise IT professionals to the economics and strategies that utility/cloud computing provides. Cloud computing - the provision of scalable IT resources as a service, using Internet technologies - potentially impacts every aspect of how IT deploys and operates software.

Cloud Computing Expo 2008 Speakers Include...


VOGELS
Amazon


FEINBERG
EMC


WELTMAN
Yahoo

NICKOLOV
3Tera

HAAR
Appistry

ZHOU
Platform Computing

HERROD
VMware

KEAGY
GoGrid

KRISHNAN
ParaScale

COHEN
Enomaly

EATON
Cloudworks

BRYCE
Mosso

SHALOM
GigaSpaces

SOMAL
VMware

CHU
VMware

THORSTEN VON EICKEN
RightScale



SYS-CON EVENTS


Past Events Archive

SOAWorld Conference & Expo 2008 East
soa2008east.sys-con.com
Virtualization Conference & Expo 2008 East
virt2008east.sys-con.com
AJAXWorld 2008 Conference & Expo East
ajaxmar08.sys-con.com
SOAWorld Conference & Expo 2007 West
www.soaworld2007.com
Virtualization Conference & Expo 2007 West
virt2007west.sys-con.com
AJAXWorld 2007 Conference & Expo West
ajaxoct07.sys-con.com
SOAWorld Conference & Expo 2007 East
soa2007east.sys-con.com
Virtualization Conference & Expo 2007 East
virt2007east.sys-con.com
AJAXWorld 2007 Conference & Expo East
ajaxmarch07.sys-con.com
Other SYS-CON Events
events.sys-con.com

SOAWorld & Conference Alumni Delegates Represents...

• AccuRev
• Adea Solutions
• Adobe Systems, Inc [3 delegates]
• ADP
• Aeropostale, Inc
• Aetna
• Akbank Training Center
• American Family Insurance
• American International College
• American Modern Insurance
• Amphion Innovations
• Amplify LLC, Clipmarks [2 delegates]
• Anderson Consulting
• Arrow Electronics [3 delegates]
• Ashcroft Inc
• Athabasca University
• ATS
• Audatex
• Avanade, Inc.
• Avaya Inc. [5 delegates]
• Azul [2 delegates]
• Backbase [2 delegates]
• Bank of America
• Bank of NY
• Barnes and Noble
• Barnex Investment International Limited
• BEA
• Bear Stearns [2 delegates]
• Bendel Newspaper Company Limited
• BizInnovative
• Bloomberg [2 delegates]
• BlueBrick Inc.
• BMC Software
• Boeing
• Bottomline Technologies [2 delegates]
• BP
• Broadcom

   read more...
Cloud Computing Blogs
In other words, VMware’s server density is higher. Boles suggests this means that customers should be “assessing virtualisation on a ‘cost per application’ basis. VM density has a sign
Traditionally, the way people have implemented high availability is by using a high-availability management package like Linux-HA[1], then configure it in detail for each application, file system moun