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Copado 2021 Predictions: How We Work

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual series exclusive.

2021 Predictions on How We Work

By Andrew Davis, Senior Director of Product Marketing for Copado

As we leave 2020 behind, organizations and individuals face a surreal blend of emotions. In the US and in many other countries, the pandemic is worse than ever. At the same time, the world is hopeful for relief from the medical and economic nightmare of 2020. Many businesses have closed or been brought to their knees, yet others have thrived.

We haven't just gone through a challenging time; the world has changed irreversibly. How might we feel some of those changes in the world of software development?

What are the driving factors, and what may be some of the impacts?

Driving Factors

  • Remote work is here to stay
  • Digital transformation has accelerated
  • More people are looking for jobs in IT
  • Emotional health remains a strong concern
  • The challenges of organizing effective digital teams becomes even greater

Likely Impacts

The law of diffusion of innovations says that there is an adoption curve for the spread of new ideas or technology. For both individuals and organizations, they have been pushed further along the adoption curve for digital technologies in 2020. What are the next challenges that shift will expose?


Law of Diffusion of Innovation

Each of us necessarily has a limited window of awareness. But for people to work effectively together, they need to align around common information and common goals. The overwhelming challenge in a remote world is for teams to share information effectively, and to gain clarity and alignment. Humans have evolved to rely on being in the same physical space to communicate. Working remotely can isolate workers from each other, from leadership, and from customers. 

Especially in knowledge work, where new knowledge accumulates with every hour of work we do, we cannot expect two individuals working on the same team to have exactly the same perspective on their work. We see problems differently, we imagine different solutions, and we see a different landscape of opportunities. This is true on a macro scale for corporate executives, and it's true on the detailed level of individual IT workers.

Thus establishing a shared perspective and goals is key. This is a multi-pronged challenge. One challenge is simply technological enablement, but the deeper challenge is on the level of emotional connection and trust. 

2020 has seen the further ascendancy of video conferencing to allow communication that's enriched by the nuance of facial expression. This allows for more emotional alignment and richer knowledge sharing. This story is well-understood.

Following on the heels of video conferencing are techniques like digital whiteboarding. Tools like Mural, Miro, and LucidSpark compete for market share in the world of remote collaboration and brainstorming. Those tools go beyond synchronous communication to help teams to generate, capture, and organize ideas together.

Just as communication and brainstorming are critical, it's also critical that organizations gain visibility into their processes and how people's work impacts customers. As organizations have grown and become digital, they also easily grow further away from their customers, and the context of our work becomes less and less clear.

Techniques like value stream management are becoming increasingly important for digital organizations to gain perspective on how teams work together in the service of their customers. Value stream management is the practice of optimizing the processes required to deliver value to customers. While intuitive, there's a long history of trying to optimize particular processes and losing sight of the end-to-end workflow.

Value stream maps are a key tool in value stream management. Value stream maps are also intuitive: they depict the sequence of processes that must be completed to deliver value to a customer. The maps also show metrics on time, quality, workload, and capacity. Though simple, these maps are a critical missing piece in organizations that have been trained to think in terms of org charts. 

Org charts reflect useful information: the management hierarchy. But organizational hierarchy tends to fragment communication, optimization, and control. Value stream maps enable alignment across organizational boundaries in the service of delivering value to customers. Studying metrics like lead time and quality shown on value stream maps expose the inefficiencies that grow insidiously when teams focus too strongly on organizational hierarchy.

Importantly, value stream maps reframe work in terms of serving customers instead of serving our managers. Focusing on delivering customer success gives people a sense of meaning, and collaborating on that endeavor fosters teamwork. The impact of that slight shift in perspective can't be overstated.

As companies adapt to this new reality, the challenges that other digital organizations have been experiencing for years will become more commonplace. Expect to see the rise of techniques such as value stream mapping for restoring a sense of clarity, connection, and purpose.


About the Author

Andrew Davis 

Andrew Davis is the Senior Director of Product Marketing for Copado, helping people understand the importance of DevOps for scaling Salesforce implementations. He is a Salesforce DevOps specialist who's passionate about helping teams deliver innovation, build trust, and improve their performance. After studying engineering at Virginia Tech and Johns Hopkins he became a Buddhist monk, teaching and building meditation communities for almost 15 years. Since 2014, he's focused on the Salesforce platform as a developer, consultant, and architect. He launched Appirio's DevOps practice, and focuses on promoting modern development practices for Salesforce. He lives in San Diego with his amazing wife and very cuddly dog.

Published Tuesday, January 19, 2021 7:28 AM by David Marshall
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