Systems for Learning - Lessons from the Trimble Software Framework

Organizational agility requires more than “scaling.” It requires deliberately finding the balance between exploring new, innovative ideas and exploiting proven ones. Agile software techniques can enable individual teams to find this balance, but few established patterns exist for harnessing it at an organizational level.

One successful model is the Trimble Software Framework (TSF), introduced by Trimble Navigation in the early 2010s. Borrowing from Agile, Lean, the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), and other proven methods, the TSF provided effective feedback to Trimble’s diverse collection of software teams on the effectiveness of their approaches. Where the TSF differed from other models was in its respect for variability.

The other authors of the TSF and I recognized that by promoting continuous improvement without dictating the path it should take, software teams would be free to experiment with new methods and explore new patterns. This increased overall organizational agility as teams tailored known good practices to their specific contexts and developed new ones. The TSF became a feedback loop that enabled software teams throughout the organization to learn from one another and constantly improve. Come hear how this was done, what we learned along the way, and how we used variability to permit a more effective balance of exploration and exploitation.

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

  • Introduction
    • Who is Trimble Navigation, Ltd?
    • The Problem Statement - What did we try to solve?
  • The Start of the Trimble Software Framework (TSF)
    • It's origins
    • Initial development
    • Lessons and reconfiguration
  • TSF Evolved
    • Deliberate respect for variability
    • Balance of Exploration and Exploitation
    • Learning System
  • Conclusions
    • What principles are involved?
    • What can you do?

Learning Outcome

  1. Relationship of variability to organizational agility.
  2. Need to balance exploration against exploitation.
  3. Value of organizational structures to promote learning.

Target Audience

Directors, Vice-Presidents, C-Level Leadership, and other individuals who have the responsibility for organizational structures.

Prerequisite

Participants should have some idea of what "organizational agility" means for them and their context. It's not just moving faster, but also learning more effectively than the competition.

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