Enterprise-wide agility needs an equal change in people, processes, and tools. However, it turns out that inspiring change in people is a tad more complicated. Experience suggests that changing organizations built in the traditional way need a change at the top first, before it can trickle down to executives below. Unless the leaders quit traditional behaviors, expecting change in the mindset of functional leaders and teams will be futile.
Focus on leaders but don’t forget the team
While it is essential to instill a high level of commitment that reiterates the leadership’s role in building enterprise agility, you need to focus on the leaders and the teams both. It is important to build awareness in the company that the business is changing and to ensure that everyone buys into the idea. Doing so will encourage teams to engage in discussions about why they are moving to agile and the challenges they will confront – all of which will help prepare for the transition.
We take a different view.
To ensure a smooth move to agile, consider hiring experienced teachers who can bring an outside perspective and provide specific guidance to leaders and team members helping them transition from their old style of leadership to new agile practices. This will drive everyone in the organization towards finding collective solutions to making agile work.
Empower teams before investing in technology
Some of the most successful startups, nay, multinational companies in the world thrive because of how well they’ve built an agile culture by empowering their teams to do their best work. Amazon, for example, has adopted strategies such as ‘high quality and high velocity decisions’ and ‘disagree and commit’. In the first, executives are encouraged to recognize and correct poor choices quickly, and in the latter, the CEO supports a team’s decision if the members believe in the choice – even if he doesn’t. Facebook also has similar strategies in place that help the organization practice agile. For example, the company has consciously chosen to build a flat organization and to accept their failure to improve.
Such examples remind us that agile is about people, not processes and technology. While it is beneficial to invest in DevOps and automation, organizational cultures warrant greater attention to make agile your organization’s strong suit. The way teams work together will decide whether they can deliver agile promises. Establishing incentives and rewarding teams instead of individuals are steps in the right direction.
There’s no doubt that agile helps organizations truly shine by innovating quickly. If leaders and team members both are taught to adopt agile, the transition becomes much smoother – and in the end, very rewarding – especially in the marketplace.
About the author(s)
Nidhi Srivastava is Vice President & Global Head, Google Cloud Business, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). In this role, she leads TCS’ Google Cloud partnership, guiding companies to accelerate value from their cloud transformation initiatives and cultivating digital transformation of legacy business models. She provides strategic guidance on new and emerging use-cases for enterprise cloud, helping companies achieve agility, efficiency and scale.
Nidhi has over 25 years of experience in delivering consulting solutions across industries. Prior to her current role, she led TCS’ Enterprise Intelligent Automation and AI Practice, where she guided companies to transform into agile enterprises. Nidhi has also worked with leading banking and financial services organizations to drive their digital transformation.
Nidhi has been an advisory member with the Software Engineering Institute for CMMI for Services, a member of the International Process Research Consortium at Carnegie Mellon University, and a member of the Women’s Leadership Network with AMCF. She currently resides in Chicago, Illinois.