Achieving and maturing organizational agility is the key object for established organizations in order to keep delivering business value. In fact, an organization’s agility level is the most important factor influencing project success rates. But what does agility really mean? And what does it take for an organization to successfully implement agile approaches?
What is agile transformation?
First of all, organizational agility is the ability to adjust strategies to the changing external market conditions on a continuous basis, respond to ambiguity and uncertainty with flexibility and speed and view unanticipated change as an opportunity for transformation. It also means being able to remain in touch with customer needs. This sounds like a lot, and it is. Executed properly, though, agile transformation is possible and will benefit your organization substantially. There are certain key aspects you need to keep in mind for your agile transformation to be successful.
A transformation program with your PMO as change agent
As a start, establishing a formal agile transformation program will help you set the grounds for a consistent and uniform transformation throughout your organization. The ideal program will give employees a framework in which the transformation can happen and help transform corporate policies and procedures. Ideally your PMO will be in charge of implementing this program. Taking this top-down approach will have numerous benefits: The C-level message is communicated in a consistent way, collaboration across different enterprise groups is ensured and whole business value chains are addressed, allowing end-to-end agility. Unless agile transformation is coming from the top down, it cannot be sustainable in the organization.
Keep in mind that the transformation process will take time, and cannot happen all at once. Agile transformation requires a change of culture and mindset, which is why it must happen in waves, with associated business, technology and infrastructure groups becoming agile together.
Change the culture and focus on people
Achieving culture change is the most important factor in a successful agile transformation and probably also the most difficult one to implement: a shift from the “command and control” culture to contributing and achieving something together as a team. To change the corporate culture it will not only need legal and commercial processes to change but also – and most importantly - need the people to change.
People management will be key to your successful transformation. If employees are confident they have a role in the new culture, that they will be trained, and that they will be allowed to make some mistakes along the way, transformation will succeed. The established transformation program will tell people what is expected and reassure them along the way. Keep in mind that you are asking a lot of your employees and that the only way it will work is by having a dialogue, a lot of patience, a lot of interaction, and addressing the fears that people have. Invest in training and coaching to help them transition to their new roles.
In conclusion, agile transformation will be most successful implemented top-down and in waves. It is important to start small, teach your leaders, set expectations and then invest in training for your employees in order to equip them with the necessary skills.