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AGILE ORGANIZATION - RESPONDING FLEXIBLY

The usage of the term ‘agile’ in professional circles is often fuzzy. Derived from the Latin ‘agilis’, it means something like ‘nimble, active, athletic’. When applied to companies, it means an organization that is flexible and adaptable – and can therefore respond quickly, especially to unforeseen events and changing requirements.

THE AGILE MANIFESTO AS A BASIS

Agile work follows three basic principles that originated in the legendary Agile Manifesto of 2001:

  • Customer focus
  • Self-organization in interdisciplinary teams
  • An iterative approach to promote continuous learning and rapid integration of what has been learned

WHAT MAKES AGILE WORKING RELEVANT TODAY

The world has become much more dynamic in recent years, partly due to increasing digitalization. The term ‘VUCA world’ has been coined to describe this phenomenon. The acronym comes from ‘volatility’, ‘uncertainty’, ‘complexity’ and ‘ambiguity’. The implication is that companies will need to be able to react faster to changing requirements, customer expectations and/or general conditions.

It also means that the once-popular ‘predict and control’ approach - i.e. predicting and controlling through hierarchical structures - is generally no longer viable. A more complex world requires dynamic management, i.e. more of a ‘sense and respond’ approach. The approach favours small self-organized units arriving at results iteratively instead of following a rigid plan and functional division of labour. Agile working methods and frameworks such as Scrum and Kanban help here. Even though they are most common in software development, these methods are also very useful in other contexts.

AGILE ORGANIZATIONS ARE ABLE TO...

  • ... adapt their value creation and business models to changing conditions and requirements at short notice.
  • ... take advantage of new opportunities in the market without wasting time, and before others get ahead of them.
  • ... adapt flexibly and successfully to new market conditions. In the age of digital transformation, Darwin's theory of natural selection described as ‘survival of the fittest’ is more relevant for companies than ever before.
  • ... bring about necessary changes in the company structure, the cooperative behaviour and methods as well as the mindset of all involved.

The term ‘agile transformation’ describes the path from a classically structured organization to an agile organization, i.e. one that implements agile principles.

OUR AGILE TRANSFORMATION CONSULTING SERVICES

Agile Transformation Processes

Starting with the respective corporate strategy, goals and a company’s current situation, we develop a target vision for the agile organization together with our clients. We adopt a holistic perspective that takes the corporate culture, potential conflicts between objectives as well as the most important framework conditions and stakeholders, e.g. top management, executives, employees and works council, into account.

The joint development of client-specific solutions also involves combining different agile methods as well as classical approaches if appropriate. During implementation, we carry out iterative appraisals in order to be able to incorporate new findings and requirements at any time. We promote the acquisition of internal methodological competence as well as the further development of the mindset and the corporate culture.

Agile Teams and Agile Project Management

Instead of tackling the overall entrepreneurial structure, we are sometimes commissioned to work on an individual initiative or project. We provide advice and support to teams in using agile methods in their daily work. In such cases, there is always a concrete requirement that provides a starting point.

The advantage: Even during the setting-up phase for projects and initiatives, the use of agile methods ensures an appropriate focus on customer orientation and adaptability. All project participants benefit from the agile skills they acquire in the course of this process, including in their everyday work outside the project.

Contact us

The passion of Swantje Allmers is to make sustainable success in organizations and teams.

Swantje Allmers

Partner

+49.228-25 90 85.0

CONTACT

ORGANIZATION, METHODS AND MINDSET – AGILE WORKING AT ALL LEVELS

An agile organization is not only the product of new processes and methods such as Scrum or Kanban that represent agile project management frameworks including scaling formats. A sustainable change in the company can only be achieved if, in addition to agile methods and processes, an agile attitude is presented, transferred and then anchored – both on an individual level as well as on a collective level. This presupposes sets of values and principles that are valid throughout the company and provide a common yardstick for all those involved in daily business.

If different value systems are competing within the company – e.g. ‘agile’ at loggerheads with ‘classical’ – this will lead to constant friction and substantial conflicts. An unnecessary stumbling block on the way to success. In addition to consistent values, an agile organization also needs the right organizational framework – in structural, technical and organizational terms. It should be possible to find clear answers to questions such as "How are we structured?", "What tools do we use?" and "What do our processes look like?".

FOUR WAYS OF LOOKING AT AGILE TRANSFORMATION

Based on Ken Wilber's four-quadrant model, we define two perspectives and four basic starting points for agile transformation. These are derived from the distinctions between ‘subjective and objective’ and ‘collective and individual’:

  • Subjective and individual: Every person has a subjective point of view or opinion and personal inclinations.
  • Objective and individual: Every person has certain abilities, experiences and know-how.
  • Subjective and collective: On a collective level, subjective role models and also issues arising out of group membership or group pressure are fundamental factors.
  • Objective and external: Structures, processes and systems create an objective framework for cooperation at the collective level.

 

Sustainable agile transformation can only be achieved if all four fields of the quadrant are taken into consideration. This means integrating participants individually and, in particular, giving space to and meeting their subjective needs, fears or prejudices. Personal discussions and coaching sessions with an agile coach are suitable vehicles for this. In addition, people must be given the opportunity to acquire new skills and acquire the knowledge they need to adapt to new roles – e.g. through training and qualification.

At the collective level, the aim is to build a supportive corporate culture and create a positive atmosphere that embraces change. Effective measures here are joint events and experiences of success, target-group-specific communication, pilot projects and role models that create a common understanding, spirit and confidence.

At the objective level, it is also important to ensure good framework conditions. This includes providing for technical support (e.g. tools and software) and resources, agreement as to how they should be used as well as the design of a constructive organizational framework.

We keep the different perspectives of the four-quadrant model in mind both in the analysis of the current situation as well as in the design, planning and implementation of agile transformation processes. This ensures that the mindset can be established sustainably in the organization and that no essential factors are overlooked. We would be glad to advise and support you in the analysis and derivation of the right fields of action and procedures in your company.

MOST COMMON SYMPTOMS OF LACKING AGILITY

There are many reasons for companies to make their organization agile. In many cases, the motivation arises from a period of trouble and frustration because the company has failed to react quickly enough to changes.

Escalating Projects

A lack of agility all too often manifests itself in projects that lose themselves in a proliferation of complexity and costs, often enough missing the target in the end. Mostly because it was not possible to respond to changing requirements.

Failure to Meet Market Expectations

Many top performers complain that their company is lagging behind changing market requirements and has problems meeting customer expectations that have long since become standard.

Decision-Making Backlog

Due to rigid hierarchies in some companies, decisions take a very long time to be made or are not made at all. Managers then rightly complain about a lack of innovative capacity and missed opportunities.

These are only some of the symptoms that indicate a lack of agility. We help our customers to identify the most important starting points for successful transformation into a company that can flexibly meet changing customer expectations and market requirements.