NEW CSPO course with Dr. Bob!
Presented by Tom Perry & Ray Arell

You won’t want to miss this interactive session, where Tom Perry from Hyperdrive will interview Ray Arell, founder of nuAgility, as part of our spring Business Strategy series.

They’ll deep dive into those burning questions you’ve been wondering about but didn’t have an expert to answer them! While this is an unscripted event, they’ll touch on several aspects of Business Strategy, such as:

  • How to set an effective business strategy
  • Communicating your business strategy up and down the organization
  • Measuring the success of your business strategy
  • Aligning your business strategy with your teams’ work

A Sneak Peak:

Tom: Welcome, everyone. This feels like a reunion for me as I’m reconnecting with Ray. We first met when I was organizing my inaugural Agile Management Conference in Seattle. Desperately in need of a keynote speaker, I sought recommendations and was pointed to Ray, who was spearheading an agile transformation at Intel. Upon researching Ray, I discovered his passion for modeling, and it felt like finding a kindred spirit—he even had a detailed Starship Enterprise model in his office. Ray turned out to be an exceptional speaker and greatly enhanced the conference.

Following that event, Ray continued to excel, becoming an independent consultant with his company, New Agility, and serving as the Chief of Innovation at the Agile Alliance. His impressive titles, like Director of Emerging Systems and Transformation, are well-deserved.

Ray, you have an extensive background at Intel, spanning three decades. You began as an engineer and later transitioned into leadership and management roles. Your journey included overseeing the agile transformation across Intel’s 162 sites globally, impacting a community of 52,000 practitioners. You’ve successfully shifted from a traditional waterfall approach to fully embracing agile methodologies.

Today, we’ll be discussing strategy. As we dive into this topic, I will ask Ray some questions and he will probably have some for me, and I encourage you all to share any questions you might have in the chat. We’ll try to address them as we go along. Let’s keep this session interactive and relaxed.

Please contribute wherever you feel necessary, as we are keeping this informal. To start, I have a confession about my view of strategy: I imagine it as something that happens when executives retreat to some James Bond-style lair on a mountaintop, drinking expensive drinks and devising strategy, which then gets handed down to the masses. This is often how I see it happening.

Ray, what’s been your impression of strategy? How can we democratize it, bringing it down from the mountaintop and having more conversation and less ambrosia sipping?

**Ray: **When you described that, I imagined Mel Brooks coming down the mountain as Moses with “15… 10 Commandments.” At Intel, we practiced strategic long-range planning, involving input from various levels within the company. From my early days as an engineer to leadership roles, I participated in these sessions, contributing data and insights to help establish business viability.

I think the “on-high” issue arises when strategy is a multi-year vision that represents a bet involving significant resource and personnel investments. The challenge is in the feedback cycles: how quickly can we adapt and respond if the strategy proves to be a wrong move? Many companies struggle with this, including agile organizations that don’t engage with customers frequently enough, and there’s often a weak link between the tactical and strategic sides of the business.

When discussing strategy mechanisms, Intel used OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), introduced by Andy Grove. This system allowed us to align individual and team objectives with broader company goals. My personal OKRs would link up through my manager to higher levels, ultimately connecting to the top executives’ objectives. Andy Grove would even personally check in on these during his visits.

It’s important to note that we weren’t expected to complete all key results at 100%—taking risks was encouraged, so achieving 90% or even 50% was acceptable. This aligns with viewing strategy as placing bets. Our goal setting acknowledged that not all objectives would be fully achieved, emphasizing the importance of trying challenging things.

Modern strategy tools and methods must prioritize conversation. If you task three teams with a SWOT analysis, you might get three different perspectives. The essential component is the dialogue that arises from building these models.

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