Scaling the agility of small teams and projects across the entire company is a demanding undertaking. Many companies still shy away from that. The following guide gives managers tips on how to successfully operate the agile transformation. Agile transformation requires experience in agile management beyond the application of Scrum in projects. If agile change is driven too much from above, it runs the risk of being perceived only as a commanding wave. Agile transformation is characterized by a continuum of cooperation and collaboration.
Many companies have gained experience in individual agile projects, but are faced with the task of scaling agility at the company level as well. This presents them with great challenges that bring about far-reaching changes. In the end, it results in a radical change in strategies, values, structures, processes, working methods and finally the corporate culture. Because agility is much more than sticking the label “agile” on your Moleskine management book in the hope that the values and principles will somehow find their way into the company.
The thought of these developments alone sends cold shivers down the spine of many of those responsible. “Agility, yes, but should the outside world change first”, is often still a typical thought pattern in many companies. The fact is, however, that the world out there is already in a comprehensive process of transformation. The reason: It is important to constantly adapt to a rapidly changing market or to be swept from the market. Nokia sends its regards. The question is when and how to face this change and transformation – and not whether.
Top management must support agile structures. Scaling and agile transformation on a large scale succeed because the resulting agile enclaves in companies are supported and carried by management at the appropriate time. Support from top management is key to making change, setting direction, and countering the inevitable threats. This assistance is not needed at first, but at the latest when the avalanche has started. But when the top management sets about implementing “agile” as a blueprint and forcing people to be more agile, the worm is already in the apple. If agile change is driven too much from above, it runs the risk of being perceived only as of the next wave of commands and control. The pseudo delegation of responsibility downwards is perceived in the corporate system, and the levels below duck down until the next management trend is driven like a pig through the village.
Theoretically, the agile transformation could also be initiated by someone at the lowest company level. The difficulty there, however, is that it gets lost in the details of day-to-day business, people fail to see what goes beyond their unit, and there is often a lack of organizational networking to mobilize broader support.
As a consequence, the agile change on a large scale requires the middle management level as a trigger factor, because it is in a position between top management and the operational level. Often it is precisely at these levels that the champions are located among managers who see agile change as a solution to today’s challenges in the business world. Out of conviction, you are ready to stand up for agile ideas and fight for the agile idea, no matter what. Agility for agility’s sake will not succeed. It, therefore, requires an occasion. It is not just about the challenges of daily business, which are changed with the help of agile working methods. Rather, it also revolves around the issues behind it that arise all of a sudden and ever faster. The focus is on answers to the following questions:
- What do you want to change?
- What is the reason you want to change?
- What values and what benefits do you want to create?
- What are the weaknesses that you want to eliminate?
- What opportunities does this create?
- What is happening in the business world that is forcing you to change?
Answer the questions to create an occasion for agile transformation.