Here’s an hour-long video of Michael DeAngelo‘s presentation on Lean Government & Holacracy in Washington State:
Highlights from his talk:
On the Office of the CIO
- Roughly 4,000 IT professionals in Washington State.
- About 80 agencies run their own IT teams.
- Office of CIO sets strategy and provides oversight.
- Transform government through technology and culture.
- Created the small business hub: business.wa.gov
- Run as a Scrum project, with 1-week Sprints.
- Adopted customer-driven design.
- Successful example of using Lean Startup methodology.
- Driving the use of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
- Practice and “open office” style.
On Lean Government
- Started in Washington State with Governor Christine Gregoire.
- All agencies are required to have a Lean focus.
- Challenge: how to be an “employer of choice” for IT professionals, given stiff competition from Amazon, Microsoft, etc.
- Several agencies have an active Agile/Scrum practice, but this is still in pockets within state government.
- Office of the CIO
- Department of Licensing
- Department of Labor & Industries
- Impediments to adopting Agile:
- Having the right tools
- Having the right sort of contracts
- Agencies adopting Agile are largely implementing this in a software development context.
- Developing the Agile QA Scorecard.
- Developing Agile Procurement for more flexible contracts with vendors.
- Goal: empower employees to organize themselves.
- There are no managers.
- Washington State is first government anywhere to practice holacracy.
- Washington State is also the first organization anywhere with a represented workforce (i.e. with employee unions) to practice holacracy.
- Doing an A/B test of holacracy vs. hierarchical organization, in cooperation with Harvard Business School.
- Hypothesis of A/B test: self-organizing teams will produce better employee outcomes.
- Measure for a year and see what the results are.
- Looking for three categories of metrics:
- Are employees more engaged, with better retention?
- Are there better customer outcomes, where “customers” are other agencies?
- To what extent is an organization practicing holacracy more able to achieve larger organizational objectives
- Instead of managers, there are roles that are assigned certain accountabilities.
- Holacracy and Agile have things in common:
- Bias towards action
- Be iterative
- Don’t make up all these demons that might show; see if they actually appear
- Holacracy and Agile are different:
- Holacracy isn’t about getting buy-in on your ideas from the team.
- The Scrum roles, e.g. Product Owner, Scrum Master can be added as holacracy roles in a particular circle.
“The reality is, a lot of the cloud providers can provide better security solutions than we can afford internally.”
“For us, cloud is actually one of the strategies for increasing security for the state.”
“The interesting question is, how do you do oversight and QA — really project management QA, not just traditional software QA — in an agile context?”
“One of the metrics for Agile QA: is the business engaged?” (Not just steering committees like before, but do we really have engaged product owners.)
“The contracts and procurement shop in state government practice what they call XP — Extreme Procurement”
“Washington is the only state to practice Agile Procurement and Agile Contracting”
“Downside of holacracy: everyone loves to tell me that I am not the boss of them”
“No government has ever practiced holacracy before.”
“Holacracy has never been practiced with a represented workforce before. (One with employee unions.)”
“I have been practicing holocracy for a few months, and I feel like I have a different set of lenses through which I look at work.”
“When I talk to people who are not practicing holacracy, I see evil spirits around them, like bureaucracy, office politics, inefficient meetings…”
“We develop these habits to compensate for the deficiencies of a hierarchical organization, instead of trying to change it, and this is after thousands of years of evolution.”
“The team has to want it: you need opt-in for holacracy to work.”
“Imagine trying to play soccer with a hierarchical organization, where the team is run by managers who are responsible for different sections of the field.”
“Because I am the manager, you need to always pass the ball to me. Ridiculous as that seems, that’s how hierarchical organizations work.”
“90% of my time is spent on crap that runs government work, and that’s because of the authority of my position.”
“As a manager I don’t have a passion for a lot of things, but other people might, so I want to give them the authority to take them on.”
“Healthy habits in a dysfunctional system become unhealthy habits in a functional system.”
“In holacracy, you quickly learn what makes for a valid objection.”
“The type of people who would not respond well to holacracy are managers that derive their self-worth on span of control.”
“There’s a category of employees who have no interest in being self-directed: they just want to be told what to do.”