The Pandemic Created a Renewed Urgency for Agile Transformation
For years, many organizations have seen agile ways of working as a path to success. The enterprise of the future was always going to be data driven and nimble, but organizations once had time on their side to transform on their own schedule.
The pandemic changed that. Dispersed workforces, unpredictable supply chains, and rapidly changing market dynamics caused agile ways of working to shift overnight from optional to a business imperative.
That flip immediately highlighted the differences between organizations that have robust or in-progress agile operating systems and those that don’t. Those with agile operating systems can adapt quickly to a swiftly changing business environment. Those that don’t either do not practice agile at all or they practice “agile theater”—saying they are agile, yet lacking the culture, mindset, and principles to support true agile practices.
To succeed long term, organizations must continue to embrace real change that is ultimately better for their businesses. Agile transformation does not mean simply saying your organization “does agile” or is “going agile.” It requires deeply implementing new principles across the whole organization, ensuring the business is firmly centered around customer value while reworking processes to improve agility, increase productivity, and reduce waste.
Agile transformation requires a cultural shift that improves the effectiveness and efficiency of an entire organization. And there is no end date to an agile transformation: Companies must consistently inspect and adapt their business to stay ahead of the market.
Define Your Organization’s Agile Journey
Some organizations are starting comprehensive agile transformations. Others were already mid-transformation before the pandemic induced its acceleration. But everyone’s now feeling the strain of new pacing challenges. The pandemic required pivots in nearly every organization; even highly agile businesses must consider greater levels of efficiency and adoption.
Despite the heightened urgency, agile transformation takes time. We know from our own experience evolving from a traditional, milestone-oriented organization to a fully agile business that there is no one-size-fits-all transformation model; every organization has its own rate of change and change tolerance.
The key question is what level of agility are you trying to achieve? Whether your organization is just starting to implement agile, is operating with a hybrid model, or is predominantly agile oriented, agile acceleration and transformation can advance and enhance value delivery to help your organization better meet the needs of your customers.
The C-Suite Wakeup Call
Securing executive buy-in has always been one of the biggest hurdles for agile transformation. In a world where change is necessary and expected, executives must embrace the adoption of whole-organization transformation models and methodologies that are now essential for long-term success. With the pandemic-induced acceleration, these executives, newly committed to change, must become servant leaders to provide visibility into business strategy, set goals, and empower teams to strategically tackle projects with the ultimate aim of value delivery. Every executive must become fully invested in the transformation.
Rise of the Mid-Level Champions
Given the pervasive scope of agile changes, executives must empower mid-level champions—internal agile experts who have greater proximity to the processes that need to change. Leaders don’t empower agile champions solely for the sake of delegation. Agile transformation is culture driven, and businesses cannot transform if their legacy power bases resist change or there is no groundswell of buy-in from within the organization.
Comprehensive agile transformations depend on internal champions at each level of an organization’s hierarchy—the team level, the mid-level, and the executive level—to check in with their team members and stakeholders, make sure that everyone is on-strategy, and provide ongoing feedback regarding changes.
Beyond executive sponsorship and internal buy-in, successful and comprehensive agile transformations require rigorous objectives and key results (OKRs) or goal programs, which serve as rudders to steer organizational alignment and aid in the facilitation of change.
Setting big objectives with aligned key results all the way from the executive leadership level to the teams sets a clear, measurable structure for what your organization is trying to achieve. Well-drafted OKRs tie all stakeholders together in pursuit of a comprehensive goal, dividing a massive task into achievable pieces with individual responsibilities—an incredibly valuable framework during transformation and change. But OKRs do not work well unless they can be effectively shared and communicated across all parts of an organization.
The pandemic made it harder for businesses to achieve visibility across increasingly distributed workforces, and businesses can’t change what they can’t see. Without a shared system in place for executives and employees to collectively visualize and communicate OKRs, a business will operate like a collection of islands, where teams have little idea of what other teams are working on. In a world where colleagues aren’t physically near one another, visual tools provide the context and clarity to illuminate what’s happening across the business and how each individual’s work contributes to the whole—a necessity when embracing change on a large scale.
Today, more and more companies are aware they need to embrace agile—and most have better ideas of what they need than they did before the pandemic. The pandemic did wreak havoc on organizations throughout the business landscape, but it also universally signaled the vitality of agile ways of working to facilitate and embrace change.
Learn more about how Planview can you help your organization embrace change, as well as agile ways of working, by visiting www.planview.com/enterprise-agile-planning-demo.