Digital Operational Excellence
The Challenges

Most larger organisations are struggling with their legacy. Technical debt has built up over time. The codebase is over complicated, mostly unused, and the delivery process is infrequent and manual. All those aspects contribute to a limiting constraint to agility. 

Technology debt is the result of a project/programme focus. The pressure is placed on the functional delivery with a little account of the resulting product legacy. Beyond a focus on DevOps, solving this challenge requires rethinking the organisation to align with the persistence of the product. 

IT departments are organised around application portfolios. Applications set boundaries around code and data. It is incompatible with more distributed architectures based on Cloud, Service reuse and Big Data. When embarking on technical modernisations, businesses should also recognise the need for the co-evolution of organisation and operations. 

The practice of Kaizen is central to Lean thinking, yet it is often weakly implemented in Agile. The "retros" do not yield meaningful improvements, and the leadership does not engage in the systemic challenges that only they can solve.

Engineering has for long been seen only as a delivery function. Yet, engineers are the ones that have the best insight into the challenges of the software. Bringing engineering back as a leadership function requires calibration best achieved with leadership coaching. 

Startups are not immune from big-company-problems and keeping a focus on operational excellence from the start is a way of avoiding the pitfalls. 

Operational Excellence Facilitated Programmes

We offer a specific focus on Digital operational excellence. It resolves one of the main limiting factors of Agile transformation efforts, and it sets one of the biggest enablers of high performing Digital enterprises. 


Our programmes broadly articulate around:

  • Creating a foundation of excellence focusing on a systemic operating model supporting the continuous improvements (Kaizen). 

  • Helping business and product management to conceive product journeys as valuable incremental features. 


Operational excellence done well generates alignment across the work system by stimulating collaboration, autonomy and interaction between operational teams and leadership. 


The programme of continuous improvement covers:

  • Lean education with the theory of constraints

  • Flow education

  • Visualisation of the work

  • Kaizen / Gemba education

  • Recognising the complexity of problems and approach to solving them.

  • Sensing the system for improvement possibilities

  • Operating model for continuous improvements

  • Leadership stance, asking Clean questions, enabling psychological safety

  • Organisation realignment / adaptive organisation

As the system improves on the foundations of excellence, it is also necessary to recalibrate how the work is initiated. It helps the progress and derives business advantages from the improvements. 

The programme of incremental delivery covers:

  • Flow education and restrictions of batch (project) work

  • Value stream mapping

  • Waste & process flow efficiencies

  • Product alignment

  • Advanced product management techniques such as Impact Mapping, Kano model mapping, Story Mapping, etc. 

  • Change vectors and incremental pathways

  • Runways and just-in-time 

  • Portfolio visualisation and Lean portfolio management

Coaching & training modules

The Operational Excellence programmes deploy a mix of the following Coaching and Training modules: 

  • Workshop facilitation

  • Systemic coaching

  • Training product management to vertically slice product roadmaps

  • Advisory, designing the operating model for Kaizen

  • Training to Kaizen/Gemba

  • Operational assessments to stimulate the agenda for change and improvements

  • Agendashift assessment & workshops

  • SenseMaking

  • 1-to-1 mentoring of leaders

  • Alignment and collaboration over excellence

  • Progressive resolution of limiting systemic constraints

  • Product improvements (stability / performance)

  • Development or an engineering culture

  • Development of a culture of quality

  • Adoption of standards

  • Continuous improvements (Kaizen)

Client stories

Large Bank: Rebuilding the ability to continually improve


A business unit of a large bank was aiming to improve the quality  of the produced software, but was struggling to make meaningful progress. The pressure of delivery meant that the teams often compromised the quality. 


We deployed a focus on continuous improvements, using benchmark assessments to initiate the agenda for change, coaching ScrumMasters to run effective retros, developing a systemic Kaizen board to involve the leadership and offering a number of micro-trainings on Kaizen, Flow, Gemba, etc. 


The effort created focus and resulted in good alignment and progress. It also revealed that there were structural limitations due to the ephemeral nature of engagement of the teams with the product, due to the project/pool model. This initiated the consideration for reorganising into value streams.  

Technology Startup - Unifying the product team over operational excellence


A startup wanted to build connections across the product management team and at the same time, unify around their approach to excellence. They were doing well already and wanted to be intentional and consolidate this foundation in anticipation of the roadmap of product evolution ahead of them. 

We ran a mix of on-going systemic coaching sessions with the product leadership team and 1-to-1 coaching. It enabled visiting the critical concepts of excellence and reflect on bringing them into practice. The sessions offered an intentional space for those discussions that created focus. 

The organisation consolidated on improving the quality of the incumbent product while operating a rewrite of the new product to a Cloud native architecture. 

Technology Startup - Coaching a CTO to build his teams with Lean-Agile practices


The CTO of a technology startup wanted a space to find some support in developing his leadership skills, focusing on establishing operational excellence and agility in his teams. 

We worked with this CTO in 1-to-1 coaching/mentoring sessions offering the space to explore and reflect on the challenges he faced. A recent conversation with the CTO indicated how our assistance allowed him to gain clarity through the journey. The teams have grown with excellence at the heart of it. The technology teams work hand in hand with the product function, sales and marketing, taking full advantage of incremental agile delivery. 

The startup has not only survived but thrived through the difficulties of the pandemic.