What is a dual operating system in SAFe? (2023)

What is Dual OS in SAFe?

In SAFe, the concept of a dual operating system was introduced. The purpose of this operating model is to help organizations compete and thrive in the digital age. The good thing about this model is that it has proven itself in many cases. Now it has become a significant method to separate the concerns of not only developing but also launching new innovative solutions. In addition, it helps to efficiently manage and improve a business that benefits from these solutions. Here, the former is the responsibility of the network, while the latter is the responsibility of the hierarchy.
Dual OS Responsibilities:

You can better understand the responsibilities ofSAFe dual operating systemfrom the photo below:

What is a dual operating system in SAFe? (1)

Fuente:scaled agile

Business Agility:

Business Agility is nothing more than the ability of a company to compete and improve in today's digital age. A business can achieve agility when it responds quickly to market changes. In addition, opportunities with digitally enabled business solutions and innovations should emerge. For a company to achieve agility, everyone involved in delivering the solution must use agile and lean practices. Only then can they continue to provide high-quality and innovative products and services. Also, they can do it at a faster rate compared to competitors. Here, attendees include security, compliance, support, finance, marketing, legal, IT operations, development teams, and business and technology leaders. Businesses struggle to achieve agility. This happens due to different reasons. But, as a solution, John P. Kotter in his book XLR8 presented the dual operating system as one of the key concepts. This concept or model, as mentioned above, helps companies achieve agility with ease.

Why are companies fighting for business agility?

In organizations that follow traditional approaches, leaders are aware of the threat of digital disruption. Yet many leaders fail to make the transition happen. In discussing the reason for the reluctance in this transition, John Kotter explains one thing. Successful organizations don't start out heavy and big. However, they instigate a group of fast-moving, adaptable, motivated people. They pay attention to responding to the customer. They are also very focused on new business opportunities that are emerging in the future.

In general, reporting lines and roles are fluid. People in organizations associated with each other organically. They do this to explore potential business opportunities and collaborate with clients. They do these things to add value in any way they can. With customer focus as a key component, they opt for a flexible group of entrepreneurial people. They do it to take advantage of opportunities, as you can see in the following image:

What is a dual operating system in SAFe? (2)

Fuente: Scaled Agile

When a company begins to be successful, it naturally expects the expansion of its success to grow. In other words, the responsibilities of individuals must be made clearer. Only then will it be possible to ensure that crucial details are carried out without oversight. In this process, companies hire specialists for their expertise and get involved in creating departments. They even establish procedures and policies to ensure compliance and legality. In addition, they pay attention to conducting profitable and repeatable trades. Companies start to organize things based on function and this leads to the formation of silos. At the same time, with parallel operations, the group continues to look for new opportunities. They do it with the intention of delivering value to the customer.

The hierarchy faces continuous development to achieve better economies of scale. However, considering the responsibilities and practices of large companies, they begin to experience conflicts with the business fabric. With the authority of current revenue and profitability behind it, the hierarchical organization struggles with a more adaptable and faster-moving network. The result will be that the network fails in the process. One of the victims of this network failure is customer service.

Still, as long as the market remains relatively stable, economies of scale hinder competitors. The business can continue to enjoy growth and success. However, when disruptive technology emerges or when customers need drastic change, the company will not respond quickly. In turn, the years of profitability and market dominance achieved so far could disappear overnight. As a result, the very survival of the business comes to a head.

Even when that happens, the organizational structure that has been built in recent years will do a great job of providing time-tested policies, practices, and frameworks. They ensure the growth, retention and recruitment of thousands of employees around the world. In other words, your service is still needed. However, the question here is how to organize and reintroduce the business network again? As a solution to this problem, Kotter suggests not throwing away what the company already knows and starting from scratch. Instead, he suggests introducing a second system. He calls this solution a dual operating system. As mentioned above, this second system aims to restore speed and innovative ideas to the corporate network. But, it does not abandon the hierarchical system as such, but benefits from the advantages and stability of the traditional system. Now comes the question of how to create a dual operating system. Here is the answer:​​​​​

How to create a dual operating system?

SAFe offers a solution for companies to focus not only on customers, but also on growth, innovation and products. This is possible by organizing the second operating system together with the value streams in relation to the departments, as shown in the image below:

What is a dual operating system in SAFe? (3)

Fuente:Scalefrom Agile

The second operating system is based on proven SAFe and lean practices and is flexible. It can help with quick organizing and reorganizing without totally upsetting the current hierarchy. That's what business agility expects. To achieve the same, organizations need a considerable degree of expertise in 7 core competencies of the digital age. You can easily get the same with the image below:

What is a dual operating system in SAFe? (4)

Fuente: Scaled Agile

Each of these competencies can, in fact, add value on its own. In addition, they are also interdependent. The reason is that true business agility is only possible when an organization reaches a significant state of mastery in all 7 of these competencies.

Each of these competencies offers behaviors, skills, and insights that provide the opportunity for companies to achieve business agility.

Seven business agility competencies:

1.Liderazgo Lean-Agile:

This competency describes the method followed by Lean-Agile leaders to drive and retain organizational change, making individuals and groups competent enough to reach their full potential. They do the same by leading by example, adopting a lean and agile mindset, and anticipating the shift to new ways of working. The result will be more engaged employees, increased innovation and productivity, and successful organizational change.

2. The culture of continuous learning:

This competence explains a set of practices and values ​​that motivate people and organizations to continuously improve innovation, performance, competence and knowledge. Companies become learning organizations, investing in continuous improvement and fostering a culture of innovation.

3.Equipment and Technical Agility:

The competition explains the crucial lean-agile principles, skills, and practices. They are used by high-performing agile teams and groups of agile teams to create high-quality solutions for their clients. The result is predictable value delivery, faster time to market, better quality, and increased productivity.​​​​​​​

4.The Agile Product Delivery Competency:

This is a customer-centric approach to explain, launch and build a continuous flow of valuable services and products for users and customers. This competency helps organizations deliver solutions that outperform the competition, reduce risk, lower development costs, and satisfy customers.​​​​​​​

5.Delivery of corporate solutions:

This competency explains how to apply Lean-Agile principles and practices to the operation, implementation, development, and specification of the largest and most sophisticated cyber-physical systems, networks, and software applications.​​​​​​​

6.Lean portfolio management:

The goal of this competency is to align strategy and execution, applying lean and systems thinking approaches to financial and investment strategy, agile portfolio governance, and operations. These partnerships provide the company with the ability to reliably align strategy to execute and meet current commitments and enable innovation.​​​​​​​

7.Organizational Agility Skills:

Explains how lean thinking agile people and teams improve their business processes. Still, he spells out the strategy with clear, decisive commitments and quickly adapts the organization as needed to capitalize on new opportunities.​​​​​​​

Business Agility Value Stream Measurement:

These competencies work together to help drive business agility. However, to achieve this, the right things must be evaluated at the right time. EITHERScaled agile dual operating systemaddresses this through three domains of measurement. They can be applied to any value stream. They are competition, results and flow, as you can understand in the following image:

What is a dual operating system in SAFe? (5)

​​​​​​​Fuente: Scaled Agile

Here, flow metrics help identify how fast the value stream works to create and deliver value. It is denoted by flow predictability, flow efficiency, flow head, flow time, flow velocity, and flow distribution.

Outcome metrics help ensure that what's delivered adds value to customers and the business. To measure these results, value stream KPIs are basically used.

​​​​​​​The evaluation of the level of organizational competence is carried out using some individual evaluation mechanisms. Each of these mechanisms is designed for considerably different purposes and audiences. For example, SAFe's core competency assessment engine helps Agile unlock training and teams to improve business and technical practices. They help the portfolio achieve bigger goals. SAFe's business agility assessment engine is designed for portfolio and business stakeholders to assess their overall progress toward the ultimate goal of true business agility.

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