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Book: Response Ability - The Language, Structure and Culture of the Agile Enterprise
Book: Value Propositioning - Perception and Misperception in Decision Making


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Response Ability

The Language, Structure, and Culture
of the Agile Enterprise

Jacket Words | Preface | Table of Contents | Chapter Synopsis


Lars Mathiassen, GRA Eminent Scholar, Professor, Computer Information Systems - I'm one of three professors at the new Center for Process Innovation at Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University. Agility is one of the guiding principles of our research and I have found that your book on Response Ability, is both academically and practically one of the best out there. 
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Gary S. Vasilash, Editor-in-Chief, Automotive Design & Production - There are few people who combine a zeal for organizational/cultural change/improvement with an understanding of both technology (especially in the information arena) and how to make stuff. Ordinarily, there is more of a binary approach, where you can get a consultant who has one of those characteristics but not the other. And so when efforts are made at organizational change, that person’s initiative may not take into account the fact that things actually need to be made (not only for an ROI, but to pay for the consulting) or the proposal may be a pure technology fix which, as is well documented in cases where that has been tried, is not a fix at all, because an organization consists of people who have to work with the technology.
    The rare individual in this case is Rick Dove...Unless you’ve been in a cave for the past decade, you’ve heard the term “agile” bandied about with varying degrees of accuracy and recklessness. Dove is one of the three individuals who is responsible for having that word enter the discourse of organizations—though it should be noted that he is not responsible for the bastardization of the term.
    Like everything Dove does, this book is provocative yet demanding. This is not one of those books with a handful of nostrums about dairy products that is meant to be read in an evening and applied the next day. Perhaps if there is a downside to the book it’s that it does take serious consideration and not a small amount of work to get through. Of course, if achieving agility was easy.
   
What is notable about what Dove has done is to clearly delineate the fact that agility has two parts to it: the cultural and the physical. As he puts it, “We look at agility as deriving from both the physical ability to act (response ability) and the intellectual ability to find appropriate things to act on (knowledge management).” It is folly to try to create an agile organization by either buying a whole lot of equipment that allows quick changeover or running a few training classes and sticking up posters declaring a New Age of Responsiveness. The agile organization requires something deeper, something that is predicated on understanding where one’s organization (technically and culturally) is, what the competitive landscape is, what tools and techniques are available for a transformation, and, perhaps most of all, a commitment to making a transformation, a commitment that has depth and breadth.
    Although Dove maintains, “Agility does not come in a can. One size does not fit all. There are no five common steps to achievement,” he does provide some tools that can be employed by organizations in order to make assessments and to drive change.
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L. Merrill Palmer, January 2004 INCOSE INSIGHT (International Council on Systems Engineering) - I found this book to be a difficult read but well worth the effort.  The difficulty arose both from a style of complex sentences crowded with content and from my personal unfamiliarity with the information presented.  However, I now much better understand the need for, basis of, and practical means to (personal and) organizational Agility. Rick Dove provides an expert perspective on the subject.  He pioneered the presented concepts in the Agility Forum in the early 1990s.  He subsequently matured them and developed implementation methods and tools through extensive additional research, consulting, collaborating, and writing.  His presentation in this book includes a language of terms, concepts, and definitions; description and examples of Response-Able product, process, practice, or peopled system architectural structure; and description of a change-responsive enterprise culture and a handbook of methods for moving toward it.  A framework of eight change domains includes associated probing questions for each domain that help thoroughly consider and understand a change requirement/opportunity.  Ten principles of reusable Response-Able systems structure provide reusable, reconfigurable, and scaleable structure, and are illustrated and reinforced by recurring reference to case stories for product, process, practices, and peopled systems. A five-level Change Proficiency Maturity Model assesses 24 Critical Business Practices in the areas of strategic planning, business case justification, organizational relationships, innovation management, knowledge management, and performance metrics.  A participative workshop method provides a proven practical method to address specific change situations and also acculturate an organization in Response-Able concepts and methods.
   
I found it refreshing from a Systems Engineering perspective that Dove advocates defining the problem and also the requirements of the solution in solution-independent terms before deciding a solution.  He uses a Response Situation Analysis (RSA) process to apply tools of change proficiency metrics and framework for describing a situation in terms of its dynamic (as opposed to static) characteristics.  He favors Discovery Workshop “Realsearch” involvement of real people, addressing real problems in real time to both analyze the problem and educate the participants.
   
I think I may have been pleased to never see another maturity model, but I found value in Rick Dove’s Change Proficiency Maturity Model (CpMM).  It is noted that “Maturity is a measure of things like awareness, comprehension, and wisdom, but not necessarily competency.  "A maturity profile will show you how ready you are to do something, but not necessarily show you how well you do it.”  Still, it can be useful to help “wake up the Enterprise” and assess status and progress.
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H.T. Goranson, Author: The Agile Virtual Enterprise - You know, original thinking in business books is rare, so it is something to celebrate when something new and useful -- even paradigm busting comes around. Rick Dove is something of an Abraham Lincoln of the Agility movement, having been there from the very beginning. So part of what you'll get here is the maturest ideas that have been put into practice from the small community of original researchers. The Abe metaphor carries into the fact that Rick has chosen to focus his intellect on practical breadth. His approach is rational and understandable: he speaks the language that real managers use, and he uses the type of useful conceptual devices apparent in the clever title.
    It is accessible, with many case studies. And these aren't the headline type of "Chinese food" examples, but the kind that dig in and actually turn the cases inside out. It has tools that you can use now, that are applied in these case studies to show you how and why they work.
   
All that's rare enough, but the most valuable element here is the original thinking. If you are not exposing yourself to original thinking of this type -- well, you're just not a manager.
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Jack Ring, Fellow of the International Council on Systems Engineering, Leader: Intelligent Enterprise Working Group - I am both biased and surprised. Biased because I was involved in some of the experiences on which this book is based and because I reviewed parts of the manuscript. Surprised because, knowing the focus was on real world pragmatics by a guy who has pioneered on the factory floor. I simply did not expect the span of coverage that emerged when all the chapters were brought together. This book is about how to make factories more productive. But also it is about how to make businesses more responsive and more profitable.  Further, it is about how to facilitate proactive learning by all employees. What a concept - letting everyone help make their enterprise successful. In a few pages Response Ability shows you more about knowledge management than most authors can muster in a whole book. Further, Response Ability shows how all three aspects of a sustainable successful enterprise fit together, each reinforcing the other, through a framework and module architectural concept. Of course, the reason all this works so well is that all is based on principles (clearly explained) and vetted by results. Results count. And with this book, Response Ability is a result that every alert leader can create.

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Paul T. Kidd, PhD, Author: Agile Manufacturing - Forging New Frontiers, Managing Director, Cheshire Henbury - This is a professional management book that makes clear the concepts of business agility and responsiveness, and illustrates how readers can formalise these approaches in their organisation. The author applies models to all operational aspects of the organisation, and offers metrics, analytical frameworks, and exercises for examining how the organisation internalises and responds to change. The guide makes the concepts of agility and responsiveness actionable and includes both positive and negative examples from companies such as Microsoft, HP, Chrysler, DEC, IBM, Sears and GM. The study also incorporates a framework, metrics, and exercises.


Jacket Words | Preface | Table of Contents | Chapter Synopsis


Monthly Features: What's New? | Guest Speaker | Real-Time Chronicles
Other Features: Home | Library | Links | Services | Corp Info | Press
Major Concepts: Realsearch ||| Enterprise Model ||| Maturity Model
                        Knowledge & Agility ||| Agile System Principles
Book: Response Ability - The Language, Structure and Culture of the Agile Enterprise
Book: Value Propositioning - Perception and Misperception in Decision Making

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