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Agile transformations are complex
Most enterprises undergo transformations, hoping things will go right, but not with the certainty that the objectives will be achieved.
If, on top of this ‘endeavor of hope’, ‘agile’ or ‘agility’ also gets thrown into the mix, the situation could get woefully complex.
Enablers for successful transformations
There are multiple dimensions to agility and success in any transformation.
For starters, from an enterprise standpoint, the drive should start from the very top.Transformations will encounter resistance and pain when the executive sponsoror the business head does not set a clear vision or does not create anenvironment that encourages this culture.
So, what are the enablers for a transformation’s success?
First, understanding the various factors at play from an organization’s point ofview is critical.
Affinity to success' (A2S) model include all factors listed in figure 1.
The central theme of the model depicts the three areas of utmost importance for the success of any transformation:
1. Objectives: Knowing what the ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ are
2. Roles and collaboration: Mapping of ‘wants plus needs to ‘who’
3. Governance: Bringing the ‘know’ to everyone (transparency and execution discipline)
The A2S model can be used to engage with and depict the maturity of organizations undergoing or preparing for transformation and to drive concrete discussions around the organizations’ preparedness and possible challenges or areas that need attention while also focusing on smoother execution.
The objectives space
This is the simplest yet most complex piece of the puzzle. This is where the program can be set up for success or failure—right at the beginning.
Typical issues encountered at the stage include a hazy or unclear definition of objectives (output vs. outcome, technology vs. business metrics), a short-sighted view of the program and its impact, reduced stakeholder appetite or interest, and weak or suboptimal program execution structure.
How can we resolve these? Ensure that the objectives always consider the impact on business or end-user (even for legacy modernization or tech upgrade projects). Baseline the current benefits with targeted benefits (using a benefits road map), map owners and ownership for the benefits or outcomes from each stakeholder, and ensure these are validated with all the groups to be impacted. Based on this, think of a functional structure with the right representation from each group.
This will also help lay an outline for the organization change management (OCM) plan and strategy.
The roles and collaboration space
This is another dimension highlighting the importance of understanding the role of every stakeholder and the need for eliciting collaboration and the interplay between them.
It is an area that determines how effectively and smoothly most grunt work will be done and how the value proposition will be perceived. Typical issues that crop up when this space is not understood or managed right include lack of executive sponsor commitment, incoherent mapping of end objectives with the right stakeholder group, weak or no alignment with the teams concerned, and the lack of active inter-group engagement or collaboration.
These problems can be addressed with an effective engagement plan. Let’s start with the executive sponsor. Figuring out how you will keep someone at this level constantly engaged and interested would be the right way to start this process. Also, across phases, pull-based engagement should be devised with stakeholders. Sometimes, the best way to deal with people is by just engaging them. Think about why they should be a part of this transformation (what is their stake and what’s at stake for them — the simplest and most important aspect to understand and address).
Ensure that each stakeholder is aware of their influence on the outcomes and objectives (using the ownership map created above) and get their buy-in. Subsequently, jointly build a benefits road map.