The Art of Business Value

Mark Schwartz

Publisher: IT Revolution Press, 2016, 133 pages

ISBN: 978-1-942788-04-1

Keywords: Lean, DevOps, Strategy

Last modified: July 2, 2016, 2:05 p.m.

Do you really understand what business value is? Information technology can and should deliver business value. But the Agile literature has paid scant attention to what business value means — and how to know whether or not you are delivering it. This problem becomes ever more critical as you push value delivery toward autonomous teams and away from requirements "tossed over the wall" by business stakeholders. An empowered team needs to understand its goal!

Playful and thought-provoking, The Art of Business Value explores what business value means, why it matters, and how it should affect your software development and delivery practices. More than any other IT delivery approach, DevOps (and Agile thinking in general) makes business value a central concern. This book examines the role of business value in software and makes a compelling case for why a clear understanding of business value will change the way you deliver software.

This book will make you think deeply about not only what it means to deliver value but also the relationship of the IT organization to the rest of the enterprise. It will give you the language to discuss value with the business, methods to cut through bureaucracy, and strategies for incorporating Agile teams and culture into the enterprise. Most of all, this book will startle you into new ways of thinking about the cutting-edge of Agile practice and where it may lead.

  1. The Problem
    Agile and Lean practices are all about maximizing the business value we deliver. Agile books tell us that business value is important, but none of them seem to tell us what business value is, though they do scatter clues here and there. In this chapter, however, we examine the clues and find that they come to nothing. Business value is a mystery at the core of Agile practice.
  2. The Meaning
    Our first step in solving the mystery is to consult the experts. Unfortunately, the experts just deepen the mystery for us. It turns out that we need to cast a wider net to catch our elusive target.
  3. The Culture
    Good detective work involves observing people. We find that there seems to be a connection between organizational culture and business value. But to understand it, we need to immerse ourselves in corporate culture, rather than reject it or stand apart from it.
  4. The Rules
    What could bureaucracy possibly have to do with business value? A lot, perhaps. Warning: this chapter contains graphic depictions of bureaucracy being applied to agility. You may come away wanting to produce burndown charts in triplicate.
  5. The CIO
    Someone has been forgotten in all this talk about business value. She makes a mysterious entrance, claiming to be following the same trail of clues that we are. Or… could it be that she is responsible?
  6. The Clue
    Aha — the case (or the CAS) takes a turn. We skip lightly into the fourth dimension, take a look back, and it all becomes clear. But you'll find no spoilers here in the Table of Contents.
  7. The Delivery
    We look up the culprit and explain the tools we have used to solve the mystery. You will begin to see business value as an art and walk away with surprising new ideas on how to go about creating it.