Business Agility – Getting the Balance Right

Business Agility – Getting the Balance Right

Insights | 27 June 2018

I recently attended the Agile Australia event in Melbourne where PM-Partners sponsored a presentation on the importance of fit-for-purpose governance being baked into agile engagements. The calibre of individuals and quality of thinking at the conference was impressive and confirmed what we are seeing in the marketplace: Business Agility has matured significantly, and organisations are actively embracing agile principles in their broadest context.

Implementing Agile

When implementing agile it is important that the tools, techniques and ceremonies are visible and well documented. However, by simply replacing one set of frameworks for another means that some organisations are “doing agile” rather than “being agile”.

The greatest challenge with implementing Agile is establishing a culture that is truly agile. Resistance to change, false starts, disparate pilot engagements and reverting to the old ways of working is common if organisations don’t focus on changing mindsets.

New way of working, while maintaining BAU

It is crucial that teams, organisations and individuals embrace the new way of working while maintaining BAU. Many organisations, not recognising the scale of the problem, take the sub-optimal, often flawed path, and tell their employees that they need to be more agile, but do not change the reward or recognition systems. Others bring in external senior resources who don’t understand what has worked in the past, thereby eliminating all valuable processes while trying to implement agile. Others still adopt a “wait and see” approach, but by not fully committing to new ways of working, their employees are left feeling nervous and scared of failure.

Agility among leaders

It is becoming increasingly evident that understanding and fostering inner agility among senior leaders is integral to fostering a truly agile culture.

People who are successful in their chosen field are often very protective of their current ways of working and are likely to have what neuroscientists call a ‘Fixed Mindset’. They are, at their core, sincerely fearful of change, resulting in ‘loss’ from the latest passing ‘fad’, and hence see it a ‘moral mandate’ to be protective of their ‘established status quo’ from that perceived loss.

Any cultural change takes time to permeate into people’s minds. Newly formed neural pathways require time to be forged and established as it is practiced at an individual level over time. It can then be taught and co-practiced at a communal level.

Agile cultural change

The Agile cultural change is no different. Its foundation is driven by individuals first, and then group levels, who need time to inspect, understand, practice and realise empirically the Agile benefits, which then creates a positive experience to drive them to want to build on and perpetuate the Agile journey.

From what I have personally experienced in the field, the fastest and most sustainable cultural change starts with people in senior management who willingly champion and mandate the practical steps along the Agile journey from the top down.

So, what can business leaders do to ensure they deploy business agility for the greatest business impact?

  • Get the balance right between internal senior resources and targeted external help
  • Be mindful of how quickly you can roll out business agility and where you start
  • Demonstrate Emotional Intelligence and empathy for those that will be impacted by the changes

How does your organisation manage the people aspects of business agility and manage constant change? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

If your organisation requires assistance or advice regarding your business agility efforts, please contact myself or PM-Partners on 1300 70 13 14.

About The Author

John Keogh, Business Agility Management Consultant at PM-Partners group

John is focussed on pragmatic, strategy led Agile transformation. With a strong understanding of the core enablers of business agility across the dimensions of people, process and technology, he helps businesses accelerate delivery with minimal disruption.

Transformational Change Leader with a solid track record of delivering significant improvements in client experience, efficiency and revenue growth.

A blend of consulting and operational experience ensures a consistent and practical focus from strategy establishment through to systematic program execution.

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