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Agile Transformation: Go Beyond Agile Working Methods to Agile Organization

Updated: Sep 19, 2022

Although the pandemic emphasized the need for agile transformation in the workplace, this trait has been stressed for companies across multiple industries for several years. The goal is to move away from the slow-moving hierarchies that lacks the flexibility to a faster decision-making model.

Four primary values are part of the agile working method adoption process. [[1]]

  1. Customer collaboration is prioritized over contract negotiations.

  2. Individuals and interactions are more important than tools or processes.

  3. Working software takes the place of comprehensive documentation.

  4. Instead of following a plan, the goal is to respond to change.

Far too often, these agile working values are confused or conflated for transformation. Even when accurate definitions are part of the agile transformation plan, some parts of the company might progress faster than others with this effort. That leaves some people stuck in “traditional” spaces while others enjoy the benefits of an agile organization. How can a more balanced approach be achieved?

Businesses Can’t Deal with Unpredictability by Installing More Controls

Agile working methods become a fixed end-state. Businesses achieve some results in this area, declare their transformation complete, and wonder why they’re not reaping the rewards of becoming flexible.

Instead of embracing a way of being, businesses are substituting one vendor for another. They bring in consultants that deliver static frameworks to serve as a guidepost for agility enhancements. Unfortunately, the only thing that investment achieves is the substitution of one hierarchy structure for another.

Instead of asking what an agile organization looks like, the real question to consider is this one: how can we find a place where change happens continuously?

Until a business is agile everywhere, the benefits cannot arrive in their entirety. Successful organizations become chameleons, shapeshifters, and metamorphosis embracers. An agile working method is only one part of that process. Fundamental transformation occurs when the organization gets worked on daily with input from everyone.

Agility Shines a Light on Organizational Problems

The pandemic underscored how quickly a business environment can change. If companies didn’t have an online presence or an e-commerce platform to use in early 2020, they either built those resources or stopped functioning.

Agility built from those processes has created new revenue streams and customer interaction points. Some small businesses expanded their offerings, while others became flexible enough to change almost everything about themselves.

The reason why those results were possible was due to the involvement of everyone in the organization. People had common ground: job security. As the economy slowly progresses to something closer to our definition of normal, businesses must maintain engagement. Everyone must be involved in the process of creating a better organization each day.

Becoming agile isn’t something that must be done on top of everything else. Its focus is to unlock the potential that already exists within the organization.

Self-Organization is the Key That Unlocks Agile Transformation Possibilities

Self-organizing teams have decision-making powers. They take ownership of the work while looking for ways to keep improving. That’s what turns a team into a living organism. Whether they’re self-managed, self-directed, or responsible for internal organization, these efforts lead to more agility.

Priorities change in the modern business environment, and self-organization allows a team to shift gears quickly. New values can take a higher priority without interrupting others who might be in the middle of other tasks. It can be tempting to issue directives from the C-Suite to enforce this attitude or align objectives, but that effort is evidence of traditional hierarchy structures. An agile organization has a clear purpose that all leaders agree upon implementing. That’s what creates the effort’s value proposition. It shows why the agile transformation process is necessary.

Although four guiding principles drive the working methods, creating an agile organization must incorporate those values while investing in transparent communication, continuous learning, and simple guidelines for collaboration, experimentation, and making decisions.

By taking this approach, it’s easier for an organization to create value for its customers. If one part of the equation is missing, the transformation process breaks down.

Business Agility Must Be Ever-Present

Empowered agile transformation efforts shape behavior and mindsets while ensuring that each person contributes to an organization’s overall health and general perspective.

The actual choices made by an agile business are highly variable. If the mandate and purpose envelop its structure, employee capabilities, and role responsibilities, it’s easier to progress from working processes to actual transformation.

Evolution is required to continue growing in today’s world. Agile transformation tests and changes practices to ensure the organization’s needs are always met. Without those efforts, it’s impossible to achieve authentic business agility.


Erik Nilestoff

Transformation Consultant


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