About 20 years ago, the Agile Manifesto was signed containing a number of principles for mainly developing software. Since then, Agile has grown enormously and Agile is also used in other parts of organizations in addition to software development. Examples of organizations that are completely agile are: KPN, ANWB, ING and the tax authorities.
Agile has become popular because the world we live in is constantly changing. If you want to keep up as an organization, you cannot continue to work with the old 'factory model', a different approach is needed for this. Agile offers organizations the opportunity to quickly respond to current developments. The most relevant in a broad context are the trends listed below:
1) Rapidly changing environments in which customers, suppliers and employees become less and less loyal and have increasingly higher demands. The attention span of employees, customers, and the environment is becoming shorter and shorter; For example, investors want to see their return on investment faster. This ensures that you must be able to quickly change priorities and respond to developments in your environment, and within your own organization. In other words; the pace of your environment, internal organization (e.g. your employees) and of your organization must be the same or in any case not too far apart.
2) New technologies (such as AI, Robotics, Internet of Things) (see the IT trends report below for more info) follow each other in rapid succession, which offers opportunities for many but also ensures that business models change quickly. As a result, organizations have to think about how they want to respond to these changed business models. A dynamic (Agile) organization helps with this.
3) The increasing degree of transparency and democracy that is being created in organizations ensures better information provision and possibly better collaborations throughout the chain from suppliers to customers to employees. This transparency allows decisions to be made faster and lower in the organization, so that people become more agile.
Agile is for e ve l organizations as the Holy liked and many organizations are therefore in full motion (or have it already) to introduce Agile. However, research has shown that only 10% (K Mc insey, 2018) of the Agile transformation companies have successfully managed to complete their entire organization.
Now that Agile is at the top of the hype cycle (true some companies success stories show and it because of that is seen as the new panacea) it is necessary to continue to value Agile. Because when the hype wears off and people see that Agile isn't the answer to everything, there's a risk that people... the child throwing out with the bath watert and run after the next hype. Several organizations have already relegated Agile to the exit because it did not work for the entire organization, which often is a shame because for certain parts of the organization it can be a nice outcome. At some point it can be effective for some parts, only the organization must be the first through phases to make it workable for them.
Agile is not convenient or necessary for everyone. Nowadays every department is expected to be “Agile”, to be able to keep up with change, whether you are a bank or a risk department at a Telecom company. That makes sense because who wants to be left behind?
However, this is not always necessary or even desirable. For departments or projects that, for example, carry higher risks, it is questionable whether it is a good decision to work Agile. Agile working can be effective if you can divide the work into smaller tasks where it is important that (a large part of the) tasks can be performed in parallel. In addition, it is important that the tasks and delivered products can click together properly to prevent a major crash at the end. Parts where this can work well include software development, Product design, (technical) problem solving and idea formation and bringing them to life .
To overcome the third trend, many companies also adjust the organizational structure immediately when it is decided to ago to work. An adapted organizational structure consists of self-managing teams, a lot of autonomy and therefore higher employee involvement. Of course, this adapted organizational structure has its success stories, such as at Buurtzorg and Spotify, but it has also turned out that this is not for every company.
However, it requires radically different behavior from both management and employees, which makes you wonder whether the same people who worked in the hierarchical system are suddenly doing well . in a self-steering system. The companies and employees that have succeeded are among the exceptions at the moment. It is also not necessary to change the organizational structure at the same time to be able to work Agile, it even helps to better guide the change by not changing other facets or at least not all at the same time . As a result , employees continue to hold on to parts of the organization, which means that the willingness to change is higher.
Perhaps in the future when the full implementation is done by AI and/or robots and we as humans are mainly concerned with solving problems, being creative in developing new products and looking for answers where AI and robots cannot reach us. can help . Possibly the introduction of Agile would enter an entire organization can be a good step. When you then change the organizational structure , resulting in higher employee engagement , that's great. However, it is not expected that this will be the right step for everyone in the near future.
The above tips are not independent of each other , although it is possible to start with some implementations. For example, you can combine tip 1 and 2 by making an annual plan according to the OGSM methodology. In this way you can pick up the other items from this annual plan in order to gear your organization more to the ever-changing world . This allows you to respond to the needs of your stakeholders and thus generate more value for them . It is important to determine where you would like to provide added value yourself and where you enter into partnerships with others. In the ever faster changing world it becomes increasingly difficult to keep doing everything yourself (see point 4). If you would like to exchange ideas or would like advice in this area, please contact Sander van der Laan.
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