The importance of Cadence and Synchronization

July 1, 2020 Focus area: Digital Transformation , Scaling Agile

In these uncertain times, the demand for services and products can change drastically: either becoming obsolete or requiring a sudden change of direction. Significant less or more demand for a product or service is a nightmare to those who fail to adapt fast enough, but can be seen as a golden egg to those who jump on first. The impact of the global coronavirus pandemic forced many organizations to have their employees working remotely, which is an added challenge for companies that try to continue their business as usual while exploring new opportunities simultaneously. This emphasizes the importance of building a way of working that enables the sustainable, valuable and efficient execution of organizational strategy.

At BlinkLane, we help organizations optimize their delivery flow by implementing and embedding an Agile way of working. Two of the most critical structures in this approach that allow us to keep reinventing ourselves and move quickly, are working on a cadence and synchronization.

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The Agile mindset has proven to advance a wide range of organizations in a multitude of industries1. This bundle of best practices – ever evolving itself – has been adopted by many of our clients. It enables them to become or stay the best, while preparing them for drastic unforeseen changes ahead. Two key concepts that form a powerful combination when optimizing the delivery flow are working in a cadence and the synchronization of work. Working in a cadence entails developing new products in a steady rhythm of short iterations, enabling a predictable pattern of alignment among team and people. The rhythm of these aligned moments can differ for various organizational levels, however, always remain the same for each particular group. For example, a quarterly cross-team work-planning cycle. Synchronization is key when working in cadence, because it allows for better and more frequent integration in the development of highly complex systems. Having multiple groups in the organization work in matching cadences creates efficiency in the moments they can synchronize and thus align. For example, having multiple teams work in two-week cycles with the same start and end day, allows for more efficiency in taking over higher prioritized work from another team when planning the work items to pick up in the next cycle.

Operating in a common cadence and synchronization of planning help in managing and limiting the inherent variability and accumulation of variance in our work – as recognized by Don Reinertsen in his book ‘the principles of product development flow’. These recurring events allow people on all levels to measure and track the delivery flow throughout the development organization, learn from the fast feedback cycles and act upon this in a timely manner. Furthermore, cadenced synchronization enables continuous integration of the system as a whole. This promotes building quality in by making failure ‘painfully’ visible early on, further reducing the occurrence of defects and the need for (manual) rework. Additionally, cadence and synchronization grant greater alignment of expectations of external and internal stakeholders, by making the pivot or persevere decision moments predictable. Moreover, by drawing up a vision and propagating this throughout the organization on recurring checkpoints, decisions can be made more easily by everyone that navigates through the complexity of innovation possibilities and ensure contribution to the overarching organizational goals. This is especially important when employees are working remote and physically distant from their colleagues, as better decentralized decision-making helps in improving the flow of value and creates opportunities for more innovative solutions without the need for a firm and present hierarchy.

At many clients where BlinkLane worked on their transformations, we have seen organizations go from a scattered bunch of initiatives in search of a problem, to a consistent approach driven by a strong and predictable way of working. These are prime examples of creating a more reliable, predictable development and delivery process by applying and effectively combining the concepts of cadence and synchronization. Embedding these structures in the organizational design fosters the utilization of organizational capabilities and sustainably increases your competitive advantage.

Our clients recognize this trend and opt for an accelerated implementation of Agile way of working. Is your organization next?

To discover how your organization can optimize its delivery flow, contact me via phone: +316 5420 7472 or e-mail: priya.panday@blinklane.com

1) https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/an-operating-model-for-the-next-normal-lessons-from-agile-organizations-in-the-crisis