business agility

“We need to be more agile!”

You’d have to be living under a rock or operating in a very protected industry if you haven’t had your leadership team tested with the “we need to be more agile” imperative.

The rationale is clear – rapid paced social and technology changes drive the need for continuous changes to your company’s products and services. Innovation becomes the critical source of competitive advantage. In order to innovate on a regular basis and not incur the high cost of trying new things, you need to be “more agile”.

Being ”more agile” means:

  • Basing strategic decisions on real time data and insights
  • Embracing a culture that rewards openness, transparency, collaboration and risk taking
  • Flattening the structures and connecting the previously silo-ed components
  • Deploying operating models that connect you quicker to clients, customers and colleagues and promote increased communication

It’s a huge undertaking – a major operational and cultural transformation to occur.

 So what is scaled agile?

 Scaled agile has become phrase of the month with big banking giant ANZ announcing their move to ‘scaled agile” over the next 12 months. Scaled Agile (or SAFe)  is a formal approach for implementing ‘agile’ across the whole enterprise or organisation (as opposed to just at a project level) built on nine principles:

  1. Take an economic view
  2. Apply systems thinking
  3. Assume variability; preserve options
  4. Build incrementally with fast, integrated learning cycles
  5. Base milestones on objective evaluation of working systems
  6. Visualize and limit WIP, reduce batch sizes, and manage queue lengths
  7. Apply cadence (timing), synchronize with cross-domain planning
  8. Unlock the intrinsic motivation of knowledge workers
  9. Decentralize decision-making

It’s still a change to be managed.

Regardless of whether you are “being more agile’ or scaling agile you are in effect introducing a very large business transformation. That still requires a consideration of change methodology and approach.

The basics will be needed: vision, purpose, communication, leadership, and capability.

While some of your people will be wildly enthusiastic, you will have others concerned about what these changes mean to their roles. And there will be a big testing of the organisational willingness to embrace such different way of working.

You will have a choice to make on whether you introduce the transformation in a traditional change approach or whether you use more of the Change Management 3.0 models to reflect the agile nature of the change.

But you do need to make that choice – you don’t just wave a wand and “thou now shalt be more agile’ . It doesn’t just happen by proclamation and osmosis.

 Anyway, the good news is you don’t have to bet the bank on it. You can start small, and test it first. A minimum viable change if you like?  Happy to help you with that…

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Dr Jen Frahm – Author of Conversations of Change: A guide to implementing workplace change.

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