8 EMERGING THEMES WE’VE SEEN IN 2019 IN AGILE TRANSFORMATION
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With 2019 almost over, we wanted to look at themes we’ve seen emerging over the past year. Specifically when organisations are adopting New Ways of Working.
We’ve seen Transformational Change within business with disruptive environments elevated to new heights in 2019. In the last 12 to 18 months, we identified a pivot in how many organisations are adopting Agile.
ADAPTOVATE now has offices in several territories around the world. We’ve found that although the cultures may differ slightly, and the types of businesses looking for transformational change vary, some things are very consistent. It’s the emerging themes we’ve identified this year.
In the first part of our three part series, we are looking at these themes, and what trends we see coming in 2020.
It goes without saying that ADAPTOVATE believe companies that adopt new ways of working, achieve immediate positive outcomes. Including employee morale, increased productivity, better ROI. Transformational change however, needs to be set up the right way in order to achieve the exceptional success that Agile methodology can bring to large organisations.
If you’re an organisation, or in a team looking to lead an organisation through this type of scaled change in 2020, you will find these themes of interest and food for thought. Some have been challenges that have emerged, while others are unexpected outlier outcomes.
So here are the 8 themes we’ve identified:
TAKE THE TIME TO DEFINE SUCCESS
Alan Trivedi, is a project lead with ADAPTOVATE in the US. He says “Organizations often find challenges in translating the missions/vision of their projects to value increments.” It’s one thing for a leader to want to change , but to commit, implement, and follow through is key. But first define what success looks like.
He explains “In an agile way of working, they must follow the vision with a definition of what success looks like, why it is important, and in what way does it benefit the organization.
Successfully answering these questions supports project teams in defining and completing the work with agility.” He says.
Organizations wanting to achieve agility should not overlook or rush through the success discussions prior to engaging the delivery teams.
ALIGNMENT ON PURPOSE, IS CENTRAL
When researching this article, we approached one of our co-founders for his thoughts. Doug Ross is at the frontline of building a start-up. He’s working with many companies who are in the midst of transformational change.
He’s also leading ADAPTOVATE in engaging large organizations around the globe, who are embarking on scaling agile across their entire structure. So what did Doug think was a key theme of 2019?
Alignment. Or more specifically, the realisation that ALIGNMENT ON PURPOSE is crucial.
He says “Realisation that alignment on purpose is central to success in new or old ways of working. If people are not aligned on why they are doing something then they will struggle to succeed, or not deliver something that is successful.”
Of course understanding that alignment on purpose is crucial to transformation change succeeding, is not a new theme. However what Doug has identified is the realisation that without it – failure is very likely. In 2019 – it’s been a wakeup call for many companies.
By adopting New Ways of Working within your organisation, allows you to ensure alignment on purpose is set at the start of process.
EXPANDING AGILE TO SUPPORT FUNCTIONS
Earlier this year we published an article on Agile being used across many industries. It’s been one of our most popular in 2019, as non-software teams and divisions embark on their own Agile transformations. Mark Barber said in that article “Whilst the original Agile Manifesto was written for software development in 2001, Agile thinking has evolved to encompass much more. If you consider that Agile is a mindset described by some core values and principles it makes sense that we can apply this in many industries and not just software development”.
It’s the reason why Chelsea Bates our Melbourne principal at ADAPTOVATE believes it’s a central theme in 2019. She’s seen “the successful application of agile principles to support functions such as HR, Marketing and Risk. Agile is no longer just the domain of technology and product teams.”
UNDERSTANDING WHEN TO SCALE YOUR AGILE WAY OF WORKING
One of the most difficult questions a company that wants to introduce Agile and New Ways of Working at scale must answer is, top down or bottom up?
Steve Walton is in our ADAPTOVATE New York office, working with some large US companies introducing transformational change. He says “ By going bottom up, an organisation gets to test and learn with small experiments. Then tweaking the recipe to suit their specific context.”
He continues “This approach is great for getting things started, however as more changes occur, biggest questions like how to support staff personal development, provide the guardrails which enable autonomy and how to align the overall organisation to it’s mission.”
In our article earlier this year we discussed the 5 key challenges with agile @ scale and how to overcome them. Two of the five challenges involved leadership.
Leadership should be able to recognise how and when to scale Agile. Then get out of the way. By engaging and utilising experts in Agile transformation, they must trust in the process.
Steve says “A top down approach enables a deliberate design tailored to the business strategy however may present as ‘another corporate reorganisation’ being imposed on the workforce. A big challenge I have seen in 2019 is for organisations to understand where their trigger point is.”
He continues “That point where it makes sense to pivot from small pilots, to implementing an overall design. Hopefully this is done with enough guidance to enable people to know what needs to be achieved, and enough autonomy to organise themselves.”
AGILE TRANSFORMATION = CROSS FUNCTIONAL TEAM AUTONOMY
A common theme for Agile transformations is, perhaps obviously, organisational structure and the responsibility of management within this new structure.
“Organisations where Agile is succeeding have broken down functional silos. This has organised people in cross-functional teams, commonly focused on smaller parts of the customer journey.” Mark Barber – our project lead in Melbourne ADAPTOVATE says.
He gives this example:
A bank may have a team that is focused on improving mobile bill payments for personal banking. Often, these teams work more closely with other teams whose focus is related to theirs. Our mobile bill payments team may work alongside a mobile bank transfer team. This team of teams collaborate and work together, often on the same operating rhythm.
He explainds “To support these cross-functional teams we shift to a different management model that enables autonomy in order to move faster by handing decisions over to the teams.
In this context, leadership teams need to focus on driving strong alignment so that teams are working together toward the right goals.
Cross-functional team autonomy means managers are more forward focused and strategic, rather than operational and tactical – which is exactly where we want our leaders to be!”
BRINGING DevOps CLOSER TOGETHER
Agile is seen as key enabler of transformation and a potential source of competitive advantage in an increasingly digital world.
One of the most prevalent themes in 2019 is related to DevOps and its continuous development and integration practices” says Slawomir Koziol, from ADAPTOVATE’S European base in Warsaw.
He explains “More and more organizations realize that bringing the development and operations teams closer together significantly improves the pace of product creation.
With constant visibility of outcomes allowing for effective iterative investment, organizations are also embracing the cost-efficiency of this approach.
MANAGING HUGE DATA SETS
One of the broader talking points in the last few years is how to manage the large scale data sets. The ones that are being accumulated through digital business, personalisation and AI.
Agile methodology is very attractive for companies that need to quickly catch up with market trends and their competitors. They do this by boosting their data science capabilites. We’ve seen this use of Agile increase dramatically over the past 12 months and it’s for this reason – we see it as a key them for 2019.
Slawomir says “Companies are starting to look to Agile for more effective ways of using the enormous data sets they have and introducing data-based personalized customer offerings.”
BREAKING DOWN GEOGRAPHIC BOUNDARIES
Finally – ADAPTOVATE understands this point as well as any other organisation. Not only do we work daily with global companies, we ourselves have several offices around the world.
From our global perspective, we can see a key theme developing. Where organizations are adopting and supporting Agile Ways of Working in distributed teams.
Earlier this year Paul McNamara, one of our co-founders and MD at ADAPTOVATE wrote an article “Can Agile work without co-located, dedicated teams?”. In it he said “We need to find ways for large organizations to behave like start-ups, yet maintain their advantages of scale. Yes, co-located and dedicated teams are ideal, but they’re not always possible, so we need to find ways to make it work.” In the article he shares some strategies that allow large multi-nationals adopt new ways of working.
More and more organizations realize that the right approach and tools will enable effective collaboration across geographic boundaries. Which in today’s global economy can be critical for success.
This is part one of our three part series looking back at 2019 and looking ahead at 2020.
Editor: Thank you to the ADAPTOVATE team contributors. Always #teaming.