Tadafur organized a series of business simulation game workshops to follow on from their highly successful executive training program ‘e-Government & Digital Transformation’.
‘Experiential learning, or learning-by-doing interventions such as these simulation games are a key ingredient of a training program, to help translate theory into practice and improve team-working and communication’.
The second simulation was ‘The Phoenix Project – A DevOps simulation’ and was held with the Information Technology Authority (ITA).
Why this simulation? The number 2 issue in a recent global CIO survey is ‘Business Agility and Flexibility’ as a result of the drive for Digital Transformation. This has promoted a world-wide interest in DevOps as a way to achieve a faster, safer way to deploy new IT features. Many see technology as the solution to DevOps, but as Gartner revealed in a survey ‘Cultural resistance will create significant failure rates when starting with DevOps’. This simulation focuses on these people related aspects.
Oman has embarked upon an ambitious plan to introduce e-government and create a ‘digital society’. The Information Technology Authority (ITA), which was set up by a Royal decree, aims at ‘consolidation and activation of government policies’ to transform the Sultanate into a knowledge–based economy.
DevOps is an unknown topic in the region and one of the aims of the simulation session was to explore how this could contribute to the e-government strategy. However the main aim was to explore experiential learning instruments to evaluate how these could help with the ambitious ‘talent development’ that is required to underpin the e-government transformation’.
‘The region has made massive investments into certification programs and is not always seeing the hoped for return on value. Organizations are struggling to translate the theory into practice and sometimes questioning the value of certification’.
The business simulation game is based upon the highly successful ‘Phoenix Project book’ which was partly the catalyst for the world wide interest in DevOps. In the simulation delegates play the roles of the ‘Parts Unlimited’ organization. At the start of the game financial performance is poor, the share price is low and they are getting beaten by their competitors. Survival is at Stake! The business initiates an ambitious IT enabled transformation initiative – ‘The Phoenix project’ – however the current IT capabilities present a significant business risk.
Paul Wilkinson co-owner of GamingWorks, playing the CEO immediately put the business directors and VP IT operations under pressure to perform. ‘Show me how you will help to Digitally transform my Organization’!
We walked through a game scenario and captured discoveries on a flip-over. These discoveries were issues that the team experienced, and which they related back to real-life situations that Government and private sector organizations are experiencing with their IT.
As these discoveries were being made I asked ‘Who is responsible for capturing these improvement needs’? ….it was silent…. the team looked at each other and started randomly pointing fingers.
I wrote ‘CSI’ on the board and explained this was probably the most important IT capability that needs building, as the team had stated ‘external drivers’ are continually changing in the Oman environment, strategies and technologies are continually changing. IT capabilities are often not adequate – This means the ability to continually change and be agile is critical. This is also a KEY component of DevOps ‘Continual learning and improvement and continual experimentation’. At the same time this lies at the heart of IT Service Management – Continual Service Improvement (CSI).
The team built a Visual Management System (Kanban board) and identified their backlog of work. 50% was planned work, 50% was unplanned.
‘What is this in reality’? The team stated that in reality this was nearer 80% unplanned, which represents a significant risk to Digital transformation initiatives if a large part of IT effort is spent on unplanned work, rework and issues.
‘Where does all the unplanned work come from’? …..passing defects downstream, poor testing…which the team did in round 1, so they can expect even more unplanned work in the next round!
The team had learnt some of the core basic principles of adopting DevOps such as ‘Flow’ and ‘Visual Management’. At the same time they had experienced the power of business simulation games to support training programs as well as organizational change management. Each delegate had discovered concrete actions to take away and apply.
‘This was the best workshop I have ever attended’ declared one delegate. ‘We must incorporate more experiential learning into our programs’.
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