Can You Conquer the Agile Business Transformation Challenge?

Organizational change can seem easy before you undertake it, but it’s actually a complex process that turns out to be surprisingly tricky. One research study shows that major change initiatives only succeed about 54 percent of the time. To effectively execute change, you need to understand the complex and dynamic interconnectedness of a disparate set of factors. The seeds of change must be embedded within each part of your company. Here’s a list of the organizational elements that must be included in the process of agile change, together with an overview of how they integrate into a holistic agile transformation:

  • Mission/Strategy: The impetus for change begins with a clear mission statement and a transparent strategy. Research shows us that “organization members are more inclined to embrace change when the organization’s culture is aligned with the mission and goals of the company.”
  • Culture: An organization’s culture must be hospitable to the concept of change. “New behaviors will stick only when they become the unconscious norms,” according to the Harvard Business Review. These norms are built up over time as each system within the company embraces agility.
  • Leadership: A ship must be steered as it heads through choppy seas, and the leader at the helm must know the direction that the ship needs to go. While input from each department is essential, systemwide change depends on leadership clarity. However, it’s important to note that mere statements are not sufficient; leaders must execute the strategy that they have outlined in order to meet the goals they have set.
  • Management Practices: While agile change requires participation and guidance from the C-suite and logistical input from front-line workers, the managers are the ones who will carry out successful implementation of a new company culture in the long run. Managers are directly responsible for bringing strategy to life and turning the information provided by digital analysts into new methods on the ground.
  • Organizational Structure: Some resistance to change is hardwired into existing organizational structures, and a certain amount of structural disruption may be necessary in order to allow room for transformation. Starting with structure (or at least including structure as a potential change focus) is one method for moving to an agile culture.
  • Individual Roles and Motivation: While human beings do have a tendency to resist change, we are also an endlessly innovative species. The key to winning worker buy-in to new organizational structures is to give individuals an authentic role in design. An organizational change management study notes that all stakeholders must have an opportunity for their voices to be heard. Each individual will protect what they view as their area of power and choice, but when they are invited to participate in creating change, resistance becomes a collaborative solution-oriented conversation.
  • External Environment (Burke Litwin model): In the model of organizational change developed by W. Warner Burke and George H. Litwin, external environmental factors are considered the most important causal element in successful transformation. These factors include the state of the market and the economy, as well as relevant legislation and the actions of your competition. Explicitly integrating these factors in your analytics will help you avoid the sensation of operating within an organizational bubble.

How Do You Prepare an Organization for Change?

In today’s fast-moving global marketplace, organizational change must take place while still meeting all production goals and maintaining customer satisfaction. This level of agility relies on preparation. In other words, the capacity for change must be organically embedded within each organizational element. For example, your leadership teams can simplify their decision-making processes. Your operating systems can be integrated so that updates and changes extend throughout the digital ecosystem of your company. Essentially, agility can be defined as a “strategic mix of standardization and flexibility”, targeted at those organizational pressure points where they’re not only needed today, but will most likely be needed tomorrow.”

What Role Do Individuals Play in Agile Business Transformation?

Individual behaviors and attitudes must reflect not only an acceptance of change but a recognition of its benefit. When team members successfully implement change, their efforts should be recognized and rewarded, because it probably hasn’t come easily to them. Individual team members will also feel supported and validated by partnering with digital transformation consultants.

How to Meet and Overcome Resistance

A critical measure in any successful organizational change is identifying and addressing the areas of resistance. Resistance to change is integral to human nature, and it can occur at any level: Individual, team or organizational. Effective change requires honest appraisal of inhibiting as well as nurturing factors at every level of the organization. Roy Smollan, a senior lecturer in management, points out that employee resistance to change is a complex phenomenon, and can in some instances provide valuable information in forming strategy. Front-line workers may be aware of costly mistakes embedded in a change plan, and their feedback is essential in developing sustainable benchmarks for profitable transformation.

Transformation Across Six Factors

A multichannel approach to agile business transformation covers six iterative work-streams, led by technology, strategy and product. Digital strategists work to help companies assess current conditions and envision a full palette of opportunities. Product managers and planners work with technical architects to prioritize capabilities and redesign key features. Developers integrate new platforms into legacy systems and lead multiple testing processes to ensure an effective delivery. This end-to-end approach balances flexibility and standardization to arrive at a new business model that gives your enterprise the competitive edge.