Chapter 14Operating models that support hundreds of agile pods

The people doing the work are the moving force … My job is to create a space for them, to clear out the rest of the organization and keep it at bay.

—Steve Jobs

One of the biggest stumbling blocks in digital and AI transformations is the jump from running a handful of pods to running hundreds of them. While it's relatively easy to manage a handful of agile pods by exception and with extra effort, that is not sustainable when you expand to hundreds or thousands of pods.

To support that number of teams, companies need a more formal operating model. This chapter focuses on three fundamental models: (1) digital factory, (2) product and platform, and (3) enterprise-wide agile. All three will vary based on a company's context and digital maturity, but they use the same building blocks.

Organizational building blocks

Three organizational building blocks make up any digital operating model (see Exhibit 14.1):

  1. Product or experience pods develop and provide technology-enabled offerings or services used by customers and employees. Their immediate and primary purpose is to enable users to perform activities that create value. For example, a retailer's search engine contributes business value by making it easy for customers to find items on a website or mobile app.

    The word “product” was inherited from the software industry. Different companies use different terms that are more useful for their context. Financial services ...

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