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Decoding Agility: Transforming Strategy with Asset-Based Prioritization

At the heart of Agile methodologies lay the principle of consistently delivering maximum value in the shortest time possible. Traditional approaches often ask: "What resources do we need?" Asset-based Agility, however, asks: "What do we already have, and how can we best utilize it?"

Using Scrum Inc.’s “Weighted Shortest Job First” (WSJF) combined with our Fibonacci-based estimation, stakeholders don't just prioritize tasks; they harness the intrinsic strengths of their operations, and the insight and knowledge of their greatest asset, their staff.

When we think of the goods and services we receive as citizens we rarely consider the people and decisions that facilitate an effective and efficient government to deliver for those needs. Government employees use workplans, they prioritize, they need to consider how to effectively utilize current resources. In the last 3 years, most governments have experienced issues in their ability to meet that mandate and provide effective and timely services to their citizens. In some cases it has led to a reduction in faith of government and public sectors. One government office decided to take a stand to re-earn that trust. They decided to embrace agility including ruthless prioritization to better serve it’s citizens.

Scrum Inc.’s partnership with this Canadian Government Client demonstrated that the potent combination of prioritization techniques and multi-stakeholder alignment drives transformative success, and galvanizes passionate staff to deliver fast and often in support of their fellow citizens. This combination allows the client to not only be stewards of the government's resources while serving constituents, but to continuously adapt and innovate to meet the emerging needs of Canadians.

Vision and Strategy Alignment

A vision provides the direction and motivation, while strategy offers the roadmap. The client's 2022/2023 strategy and associated workplans underwent meticulous scrutiny, ensuring alignment with the Government's code of practice. However, Digital Transformation is not a static or simple journey. As the environment and operational ecosystems shift, so do organizational priorities. The Government entity recognized this dynamism by seeking ways to not only regularly review their workplans, but sought to find a scalable and empirical way to measure and assess the value of planned and emerging work. They did this to ensure they remained continued to provide effective services to its citizens and clients amidst changing governmental agendas and priorities.

The Power of Multi-Stakeholder Alignment

One of the challenges many organizations face, especially in the public sector, during digital transitions is ensuring alignment across multiple stakeholders; stakeholders who often have divergent or conflicting priorities. To address this, a facilitated a deeper conversation utilizing the Collaborate Learn Adapt (CLA) framework and appreciative inquiry can be beneficial. These frameworks and methods, designed for multi-stakeholder coordination, proved pivotal in creating the office's first 'Decoder Ring'. A customizable tool to evaluate whether work items offer short, medium, or long-term value, enabling a more nuanced approach to prioritization.

The 'Decoder Ring': A Testament to Asset Optimization

Enter the 'decoder ring', borne through deep discussions under the Collaborate Learn Adapt (CLA), Appreciative Inquiry and Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) methods. The WSJF method is both ingenious and simple. By dividing the value of each task or initiative by its size, a score emerges. Tasks with towering scores naturally rise to the forefront. But it's more than just a technical tool. It's a reflection of an organization's commitment to asset-based development. By focusing on the potential value of work items in the short, medium, or long term, the 'decoder ring' champions the assets an organization already possesses. 

As government and public priorities shift and new challenges emerge, this tool doesn’t become obsolete. Instead, it adapts, it embodies Agility continuously optimizing the value extraction from existing assets, ensuring resilience and adaptability in the face of change.

The 'Decoder Ring': The Executive's Compass in Decision-Making

Not simply a categorization tool, the 'decoder ring' emerged as the lynchpin in asset-based strategy development, especially for executive leaders and value stream managers. It's designed to not only assess tasks or initiatives based on their value delivery timelines but more crucially, to guide decision-makers in recognizing and leveraging the inherent value of these tasks or initiatives as organizational assets.

In the current challenging commercial, geopolitical and social times, when every decision can drastically affect an organization's trajectory, the 'decoder ring' becomes an indispensable ally. It allows leadership to focus on the organization’s strengths, for employees to see their value contribution to the organization, ensuring that despite external pressures, the organization capitalizes on its core assets. Each ring measurement, whether short, medium, or long term, serves as a guidepost, helping executives prioritize tasks that align with strategic objectives and maximize value to their client/community.