September 17, 2014

What is value? (part 1)

In this set of posts I want to discuss the idea of value. Value is truly subjective and just like the concept of quality in the book ‘Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance’ it can be extremely elusive.

Value, being subjective, means different things to different people. This blog is about Agile and therefore this article discusses the value that agile practices bring. I am especially interested in what value means when scaling agile across more than one team and the conflicts this might bring.

There are different frameworks that make up the agile toolkit and each one brings different elements of value. In my line of work and in the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) the practices combine in the following way.

  • Extreme Programming – For code quality and development best practices
  • Scrum – Process for building software
  • Kanban – Process for maintaining software
  • Lean – Process for eliminating process waste,
  • SAFe – Framework for scaling Agile across the organisation

In addition to the value we get from each framework, we all get value apportioned to:

  • Individual value
  • Team Value
  • Product Value
  • Organisation Value
  • Customer Value
  • Stakeholder Value

Value is also measured differently depending on who is receiving the value and at what time. For example, these might be some typical unit of value:

  • Individual Learning
  • Being able to work from home
  • Return on Investment
  • Ease at which to complete a task
  • Time saving
  • Kudos
  • Market Share
  • Having fun
  • Relationships with others
  • Stepping stone to something else
  • Reduction of risk
  • Increase in accuracy
  • Better health and safety

Im sure there are many more.
The point here being that values are totally different for each person, group or organisation.

The organisation or categorisation of value

As we are discussing Agile, we are going to try to organise these units of value so we can see where and how can derive value from the processes we use. We may be able to derive some methodology to satisfy these values when scaling agile or we may not.

The question is, can value be organised, made into a template and used to represent an individual, a team or an organisation? If so, what does a value template look like and how do you apply this? If not, how are different values met in an Agile organisation?

Read next:  What Are The Scaling Agile Frameworks and How Are They Different?

Simon Powers

Simon Powers is an Agile Coach specialising in large scale transformations and agile adoption. He has a background in very large enterprise architecture which has led on to organisational design and agile process refinement. Simon is the founder of Adventures with Agile.