Agile Transformations don't bring Enterprise Agility. Unless ...

Enterprise Agility

... how organisations succeed in complexity

Many organisation are on the path of increasing their agility. Some call it Agile Transformation, some Agile Transition, some Agility Program. The reasons of these initiatives don't include Enterprise Agility as the goal itself, but rather what it can enable for the organisation.

Perusing the list of reasons in the graph you can see how deep the work goes into the workings of the organisation.

The pursuit of true Enterprise Agility is not for the faint of heart. Agile ways of working are great at raising transparency and highlighting improvement opportunities. The same is true when raised to the level of the whole organisation.

Reasons for adopting Agile (2019) - Source: 13th annual State of Agile report.

If your organisation is on the path, what is the goal of its "Agile Transformation"? If this is the label of the programme, it's a sign that its goal is "Agile". How will the organisation know that it has reached the goal?

With any initiative worth doing, it's vital for key stakeholders to align around the WHY. Enterprise Agility is not a WHY, it's a HOW.

Why Enterprise Agility is needed for real Business Agility

Business Agility is widely understood as the homogenous collaboration of what used to be business and technology departments. Practicing proper Agile product development and overcoming traditional department lines of business and IT is what brings about Business Agility.

However, when we truly pursue Business Agility we need to look at all the other areas where a homogenous Product organisation interfaces with the rest of the organisation. This is where we start to appreciate that we need to enable Enterprise Agility to truly realise the potential of Business Agility.

How are other departments affected?

Every member of the Product organisation is a member of staff and thusly has an employment agreement of sorts, and receives remuneration. Thusly we're immediately connecting with HR and Finance. 

The users of the Product/s contact Customer Services. Users learn about the Product/s through the work of Marketing. For the Product to thrive the Product department also collaborates with departments such as Customer Services and Marketing.

Given that we're working at the scale of rather large organisations, we're likely to have more than one large Product. There used to be a Programme Management Office when there were Projects.

Now that we have long-lasting Products, there will likely be some function to provide a holistic view across the whole Product Portfolio. If the PMO function is on the way to becoming that, they are also part of the overall picture.

Now we're up to 5 departments alongside the Product organisation, and the web extends for as long as there are departments. How are these departments currently operating and interfacing with business and IT? In many organisations business and IT are still separate departments.

These departmental structures and the communication and decision-making lines that they cause are a key contributor to large organisations' lack of agility. It is enterprise fragmentation., a.k.a. "silo-ism".

While there might be a common set of organisational values (can you name yours?), each department has different ways of doing things, and different cultures.

Enterprise Culture

Peter Drucker, world-renowned business thought leader, coined the phrase, "culture eats strategy for breakfast".

Every of the aforementioned departments has its own structures, processes, and policies. Most often there is little alignment across departments on overall organisational goals.

Whatever goals are agreed, they are know less and less the further away people are from those who chose said goals.

This fragmentation in structures and goals also shows up in every department having a different sub-culture. How does that impact the organisation as a whole in its conduct of realising customer and user value?

Every organisation that I engaged with, who attempted to update its culture through re-branding and/or rolling out new company values saw one of two outcomes. I'd like to share a core principle before revealing these two outcomes. By considering this principles you can take a good guess as to what I'll reveal.

"Culture is the consequence of the company's constructs." - @GeorgFasching

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Broadly speaking, the organisation's attempt either worked to some extent or it didn't. In those cases where it worked, the culture aspect was aspirational and the actual work was done on the organisation itself and how it does things (processes, policies, etc). These are all constructs of the organisation.

When an organisation tries to changes the culture directly, it tries to change something intangible. When it tries to do this centrally onto the people, and multiple times, how are the people left feeling?

It is time for a better approach

A better approach to bring alignment, engagement, transcending organisational silos, is needed. There is a lot to this subject matter. While the practices have developed a lot just in the last 5 years, the principles at the core of an engaging organisational development initiative have remained the same.

I'm proud to be in partnership with Adventures with Agile. In a group of fellow Enterprise Agility coaches and practitioners we regularly host 3-day workshops to share practices and principles. There are two complementing workshops with just enough overlap to enable them to also be highly valuable in their own right. And for those who've been with us on these classes, or the bootcamp, there's a very special program starting in Spring 2020.

As I explored above, for better success in pursuing Enterprise Agility we need alignment on goals, structural insights to learn from, patterns to apply at scale, and principles to accompany us. This is the focus of the Enterprise Agility Masterclass.

Not only to bring the whole of the people along for the ride, but get everybody engaged, learn from the people closest to the work, and support them through any difficulties we need methods and skills of large-group facilitation, and systemic coaching. That is the focus of the Enterprise Agile Coaching class (a.k.a. Coaching Agile Transitions).

Enterprise Agility Masterclass

Top-level alignment, patterns, and principles for better enterprise transitions.

ICP Agility in the Enterprise

The next one that I get to host with Adventures with Agile is:

London, 20.-22. April 2020

66
Days
15
Hours
18
Minutes
12
Seconds

Enterprise Agile Coaching

Large-scale facilitation, and systemic coaching for whole-enterprise employee engagement for better enterprise transitions.

ICP - Coaching Agile Transitions

The next one that I get to host with Adventures with Agile is:

London, 13.-15. May 2020

89
Days
15
Hours
18
Minutes
12
Seconds

Can't make it?

I created an email program packed with value. While it is written for Digital Agencies on the path to becoming Product Studios, the content is highly relevant across organisations, especially those engaged in client services.

Already made it?

The much anticipated cohort programme is here, designed to deepen your learning, and support you in applying everything that is covered in the Enterprise Agility Masterclass & Enterprise Agile Coaching classes.

Adventures with Agile's Enterprise Agile Coaching Expert Cohort is launching in Spring 2020. Upon successful completion of the program you will be awarded the ICAgile Expert in Enterprise Coaching credential.

It's a pleasure and privilege of mine to be part of the cohort faculty. I invite you to register your interest.