In my role as a agile transformation coach, I often grapple with the multifaceted challenges that arise when working with senior leaders and members of the C-suite. These complexities often stem from entrenched organisational hierarchies and the accompanying perception that certain methodologies – such as Agile – are exclusive to specific teams, notably those involved in delivery. As practitioners of business transformation, it is incumbent on us to clarify and accentuate the broad applicability and transformative potential of these methodologies.
The conventional understanding, that certain frameworks like Agile are the purview of the CTO or CIO, and solely pertain to technology or software development departments, is quite limiting. Each component of the business, from Risk Management and Internal Audit to HR, can potentially gain from a methodology that encourages flexibility, swift response to change, and customer value – central tenets of the Agile framework. Our role as transformation coaches is to challenge this limited perception, thus opening the door to a wider appreciation of transformative methodologies.
In my experience, many executives tend to see a disconnect between their roles and certain methodologies such as Agile. They often dismiss the need for understanding or participating in the process of business transformation. So, how can we convince a risk leader or an internal auditor about the relevance of flexible and customer-centric methodologies to their work?
The key lies in shifting the focus from specific methodologies to the broader, universally applicable concept of business agility. This encompasses concepts like Lean and Systems Thinking, thus moving beyond the confines of specific frameworks like Agile. Business agility is about strategic adaptability and efficiency across all business units and functions. It’s about fostering an environment conducive to continuous improvement, where each team invests time and effort in refining their processes. This isn’t about converting every department to a particular methodology, but rather, about establishing a flexible, responsive, and customer-oriented business model.
To illustrate this concept, I recall an instance where a seemingly minor task – changing a single word on a website – had to navigate an intricate network of checks and approvals. The process involved InfoSec, Legal, Compliance, and Enterprise Architecture, each of which had a justifiable reason for their involvement. However, the collective outcome was a six-week lead time for a task that, in essence, required merely five minutes of execution.
This example serves to underscore the necessity of a unified, streamlined approach to organisational operations. I have also observed similar situations in other departments, such as HR, where a simple policy amendment can take weeks, even months, to implement because of bureaucratic red tape.
As a transformation coach, my goal is to enable teams to function more efficiently and effectively, to respond swiftly to change and prioritise customer value. However, this objective becomes unreachable unless all organisational units align their operations to support this endeavour. It requires collective effort towards improving how we operate – this, at its core, is business agility.
Achieving business agility calls for the engagement of all stakeholders within the organisation, from the C-suite to frontline staff. By consistently communicating the benefits of adaptable, value-centric methodologies and working towards embedding a culture of continuous improvement, we can gradually guide the organisation on this transformative journey. The journey towards business agility is undoubtedly challenging, necessitating sustained effort and engagement from all corners of the organisation. However, the rewards, in terms of increased efficiency, adaptability, and customer value, make it a pursuit well worth undertaking.