Any transformation should be a journey, not a destination.
Based on my experience, here are the steps that I would follow for any organizational transformation to Agile.
1. Raise awareness about the need for improvement
The first step is self-realization. This is not new technology or a new fashion trend that you can follow and embrace. Instead, it is a transformation of the way we work. Have you ever considered why we do not have the time to improve, but we have plenty of time to do the same work inefficiently and resolve the same problems again and again? If the organization is not aware of its shortcomings, no transformation will work. Being self-aware helps us to understand the “as-is” habits of working and prepares the basics of “to-be” working to improve cost, time, scope, team relationships, and individual morale. Raise awareness around the transformation work in every department of the organization.
Create a feedback box at the entry of your reception area or cafeteria, and ask for suggestions from everyone on improvements they want to see. You can do an anonymous survey to reach a bigger audience. Refrain from doing any audit on the existing ways of working.
Analyze the findings and prepare a to-be state that you want. I have noticed that in the name of competition, we embrace something that is at odds with our organizational culture and vision and then blame it on the failure of the transformation coach or team. I am not going to advocate for any specific role but want to inform that transformation is a collective activity. We all succeed and fail as a team. If anything is to be blamed, then it will be our inability to improve.
2. Set goal for value creation
We humans always need a goal to pursue. Without a goal we will withdraw before the end. Read the story of Florence Chadwick in “So Near and Yet So Far
.” Broaden your imagination, and go to the future and look at the need to achieve. An organizational transformation depends on each department coming forth and being part of the journey. If you go to the gym, each part of your body has to undergo transformation or else your figure will be flawed.
Give shape to your vision. Do not try to boil an ocean to define a vision statement and set the related objectives. Keep a short-term goal and a long-term goal. Verify that the objectives should be achievable in an iterative and incremental way. Do not be rigid by having quantifiable objectives only. Look at the softer aspects of the transformation that cannot be measured in the short term but will have a long-lasting effect for a generation to reap.
3. Implement the transformation for value realization
You can follow any implementation process that you like and are comfortable with. My suggestion will be always to make the transformation in an iterative and incremental way. Involve all the stakeholders. Create a top-down approach instead of a bottom-heavy approach. People want to follow the leaders who are role models. By doing only a command-and-control approach, we will have the effect for the short term but experience long-term resentment. Make them part of the transformation rather than make the transformation for them. Prepare people to embrace the new ways of working by both the top-down and bottom-up approach.
Create a transformation team with specific roles and responsibility for individuals and allow them to collaborate among themselves to try new ideas. In line with Agile-Scrum, I will like to suggest the three roles as:
- Transformation Team: These should be typically the senior management people at the highest possible level accountable for implementing the vision or objectives.
- ScrumMaster/Coach: This individual guides the Vison Owner and the Transformation Team. Facilitates the implementation journey in an iterative manner and keeps an eye on the incremental value delivered.
- Product Owner/Vision/Strategy Owner: This individual should be capable enough to make decisions. He or she is the person who will be accountable for the implementation backlog. Typically in this situation, it is the CIO or department head.
You can follow pilot-based or big-bang ways of an implementation model.
4. Learn to adapt
It is always easy to sail with the wind. But there will be certain situations when nothing will go according to our wishes, and we will be forced to adapt. The best way to adapt is to learn from the previous cycle of working. Look at the improvements that you can bring to next cycle. Pause, look back, and don’t concern yourself with some failed ideas but learn the lesson to avoid the failure from reoccurring in the future. Listen to every stakeholder’s view. Note the reasoning behind the causes and prepare an action plan to tackle them.
ngage, and A
rticulate the findings; R
eason with the facts and then take your N
ext step to A
ddress the basic cause; D
iscuss the available alternatives; A
lign the option with the objective; P
rioritize the solution; and T
arget for closure one at a time.
Repeat the steps until you find the right solution for your transformation.
5. Enhance by continuous improvement
As said earlier, if we are satisfied by achieving some certain goal, then the journey stops and becomes travel to a destination only. But in a transformation journey, we need to enhance our fortitude — our eagerness to go one step more will help us enhance our success. We need to continually find an opportunity to improve ourselves and keep the bar high enough to achieve this.
Never equate the transformation as a change in the organization. Change should be the by-product of the transformation activity. Humans generally love to defend their present turf and resist change. Hence, create continuous improvement in small increments. In the end, the organization will have changed without knowing it.