Making agile transformations succeed

According to a McKinsey global survey, more than 80 per cent of respondents say their organisations have undertaken digital transformation initiatives over the past five years, but a mere 16 per cent report success and only 3 per cent claim successful sustained transformation.

Simon Powers, chief executive and founder of Adventures with Agile, the global coaching and training provider for agile and organisational change, says a major reason behind the issues enterprises face when embarking on transformations is the reliance on predefined templates or best practices that have worked at other organisations.

“What we are doing is helping companies achieve their business goals through new and more collaborative ways of working, rather than following a fixed framework. When external elements such as the processes are prioritised, rather than building better relationships and fostering collaboration, businesses can find staff aren’t really getting the innovation they had expected,” explains Mr Powers.

Agile coaching plays a vital role in helping companies on their journey, but only if the coaching aspect is taken as seriously as agility. When more skilful business relationships and high-trust environments are established, combined with coaching to unlock employee potential, organisations are better placed to leverage the processes of agile.

What we are doing is helping companies achieve their business goals through new and more collaborative ways of working, rather than following a fixed framework

“Through coaching and facilitation techniques, we are able to unlock the behaviours and the limiting beliefs that people and organisations have about themselves, which enable people to focus on collaboration and then results that enable organisations to be in the 3 per cent of successful lasting change,” adds Mr Powers.

The importance of behavioural change during the enterprise transformation process is often undervalued, but agility is fundamentally a shift in the way staff relate and behave to achieve better results. In many traditional businesses, the hierarchical, top-down approach to change is simply too slow to manage staff in a fast-paced and competitive environment.

For companies to achieve lasting benefits from agile ways of working, all employees need to be intricately involved in this fundamental business change, not just the management team or change experts.

“When we work with a company, we ensure the leadership team are aligned and working in a very cohesive way, as well as collaborating in a much more skilful way. By focusing on co-creation, rather than transactional or disparate ways of working, the leadership team can fully visualise what their business challenges are and what opportunities the business can take advantage of,” says Mr Powers.

Change programmes that follow a top-down model often encounter resistance among employees as they will not have played a role in creating these solutions. This leads the transformation to stall, leaving employees disengaged and unequipped to innovate.

The Adventures with Agile approach leads with co-creation, sidestepping the disruptions that come with other models, and through their systemic coaching techniques, the entire system is being coached rather than just individuals. Management teams incorporate new knowledge into their skill set via professional coaching, enabling continual low-cost sustainable adaption to a changing marketplace, without the need for external coaching specialists.

This incremental change, without disruption to work in progress, in the form of small, safe hypothesis-led experiments designed by those who are changing their ways of working, aligns the organisation at the speed at which they’re comfortable with change, so they can continue to adapt to their evolving marketplace. This translates to new ideas and innovation arising from employees, and enables customers to provide feedback more frequently.

“As the market changes and business problems come and go, the companies we have worked with have a built-in mechanism to continually innovate and change in a sustainable and safe way,” Mr Powers concludes.

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