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Agile should not be blamed or considered a buzzword.How becoming agile/flexible-little culture shift


During my MBA programme, all students in the Management Consulting module came across, as suggested reading, a book from 1994: Robert H. Schaffer. High-Impact Consulting: How Clients and Consultants Can Work Together to Achieve Extraordinary Results.


The scope of this book was to document and propose a new way of working with clients from the consultants’ side. Among the other suggestions that caught my extreme interest was the “rapid cycle projects”. In brief:

  • Firstly, do not start with “big bang projects”- or large-scale initiatives.

  • Secondly, piloting with cross-functional teams involved.


Using plan-do-check-act (PDCA) the activities are broken down into steps. Then it is necessary to evaluate the outcomes, make improvements, and test again. It keeps going until the desired outcome is reached.


PDCA can be tracked back as a method to the late 50s.


Does this methodology sound familiar?...


And the “check” is meant to be used for change initiatives and reducing the risks of failures. The consultancy approach after the rapid cycle projects continues with a scale-up methodology.



AGILE manifesto was created /released in 2011.Method for software companies.

During the past years, it has extended to the business (enterprise, strategy, and organisation, and recently to marketing and sales).


Why does AGILE scare executives?

Because almost half of all agile transformations fail as they cannot rapidly adapt to changes in the market and environment.


One moment: did the companies transform themselves into AGILE organisations or use agility instead? The latter is the correct answer.


Reflection:

With different execution approaches, the concept of design, experiment, using feedback and improving is unrelated to a “new Buzzword”.


As we did with our roundtable series, we created/increased awareness of competitive advantages related to new management models and got rid of jargon and buzzwords in the context, today, the awareness goal is to avoid confusion between AGILE adoption and AGILE transformation.


· Adoption: using AGILE methodology to make things faster

· Transformation: convert all the company processes, culture, and structure into an AGILE 100% based.


Why is Agility (AGILE adoption) critical for businesses?

I picked up a McKinsey research [1] and looked at some interesting points about what COVID-19 has generated in terms of flexibility to companies with exploited demand 3-5x during the pandemic.


Organisational strategic activities?

- Time-to-market

- Customer centricity -facilitating the sales funnel and customer experience.

- Shorten decision-making processes. (Marketing and sales; supply chain)


Destination?

- Online Services, e-commerce,

- Supply chains

- Digital and analogic marketing

-

What did these companies do?

- Eliminated silos and assembled cross-functional teams to create and refine their most demanded products for the supply chain

- Using a task list within a timeframe to define new customers’ persona, content, messages, channels, and content strategy. (Sales and marketing)

- Facilitated faster decision-making with daily meetings with clear goals for resolving issues quickly. This guaranteed better visibility of priorities to executives. At the same time, they were involved as an escalation point for issues met by the cross-functional teams.


There were no transformational activities, whole change processes, or attempts and aims to change companies’ whole cultures.


What they did was a way to react to the unpredictable demand waves of a disrupted customer. Maximising the focus on a changed customer persona or even new customers generated by the pandemic with agility.


Is agility achievable in my organisation?

The answer is YES; it is a must-have requirement. In his configuration, as it is integrable in Projects usually managed with a waterfall approach (not all the sectors and projects can do it) it can be integrated with a lower impact into existing organisational structures, accepting that a partial shift in culture is required where employees, managers are empowered, supported by seniors or executives, and have the capabilities to do their work, rapidly and more efficiently.


Does agility/flexibility look less scary?


We have a complimentary assessment to understand your capabilities about inserting agility in different areas of your organisation = ADOPTION without TRANSFORMING the whole organisation.

Contact us at info@transforage.co.uk for a conversation about your potential need to adopt agility in some critical processes.

[1] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/consumer-packaged-goods/our-insights/how-consumer-companies-are-adopting-agility-during-the-covid-19-pandemic

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