Even though it is recognized by everyone that technology, people and process are required to achieve operational effectiveness, most global companies have chosen to drive their transformation from technology. Digital transformation has reached out all organizational levels. First and foremost, the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solutions have allowed organizations to automatize transactional processes that remained outside the ERPs. Secondly, Artificial Intelligence (AI) provides organizations with the means to automatize not only data analytics and business intelligence processes but also processes which requires an assessment to reach a conclusion. Moreover, Cognitive capabilities will empower organizations to move forward automation towards decision making processes. Furthermore, technology driven transformations start relying on “Machine Learning” processes as the mainstream organizational learning source. Many global organizations ended up “technology centred” as a consequences of driving only digital transformations and subordinating everything else to their latest technological update. But global companies are far from being 100% digital with all their processes fully automated, and because of poor deployments neither more stability nor less complexity have been achieved with even more rigid structures as an outcome. After their digital business transformations, the challenge that many organizations are currently facing is: How to move forward towards a more “agile” organization?

Leadership and Engagement

In several instances, technology has replaced people within organizations which are looking forward to reducing cost through headcount reductions and relocations. In those cases where they are supposed to “interact” through a process, most of the time people is not only adapting to the new standards imposed by technology but also is dealing with daily issues driven either by technology itself or by the deployment process. Both leadership and engagement have been severely diminished either by replacing or subordinating people to technology. In order to develop a leadership with the capabilities required to drive an agile transformation, first the credibility of the organization’s leaders must to be restored. Secondly, the organization needs to truly respect their people, by valuing their knowledge, talent and work, not only through monthly, quarterly or yearly performance reviews but also through rewards and recognitions on daily and weekly basis. When people trust in their leaders and when the later ones truly respect the formers, organizational readiness for the agile transformation can be built. Moreover, a motivational leadership style required not only leaders with coaching capabilities but also an organizational culture an environment where coaching can be delivered and received effectively. It is only through engagement that an “organic” organizational learning can be driven to develop not only key performance behaviours but also competitive advantages through a new way of working.

Knowledge and Change Management

Although most global organizations are aware of the importance of both knowledge and change management, when they faced digital transformation processes, not always those aspects have been taken into considerations. Mostly, because of the interpretation of “disruptive change” as “replace” and something that requires “start from the scratch” with the new technology. This vision of change led organizations to have almost “non” knowledge management” throughout the digital transformation because of the belief that whole organizational knowledge was only written on “obsoletes” procedures and formularies that needed to be replaced. Also, the change management focus only in the risk management for introducing safety the new technology which is the short term but what about the long term? Besides the explicit knowledge on documents, organizations heavily rely on implicit knowledge within their people based on their experience. Although the current way of doing things can be completely changed, people’s experience is not only valuable to improve technology’s deployment but also to develop a new way of working. It is through people the “standard” technology can produce better outcomes helping the organization to find competitive advantages through their uniqueness. Furthermore, knowledge management is essential to create stability without rigid standards through process owners and communities of practices which can also drive the continuous improvement process. Finally, the essential long-term goal of the change management process is to ensure organizational learning by setting the right timing to make people feel respected to keep them engaged and empowered throughout the whole transformation process. The combination of both knowledge and change management is essential to drive a transformation from “within” instead of pushing it from the “outside”.

Agile Transformations and People Centred Organizations

After digital transformations, organizations came to realize that technology is necessary but not enough for itself to produce business outcomes neither in the short nor in the long term. Up to know, organizations have been driven from technology their business transformation , subordinating everything else to it. Although digital automation has great benefits, when it is planned with an E2E approach and operates without errors, without “interaction” with people it has the risk of creating rigidity in the organization. “Interactions” between people and technology through processes are potential competitive advantages as well as the interactions between people within and outside the organization. Technology is a performance enabler at all organizational levels, with the potential to empower people to improve all their “interactions” whether with technology itself or communication with other people. Unlike the digital, the agile transformation to create both stability and flexibility as well as to reduce the management cycle, is “people” driven. Therefore, is essential to develop leadership and engagement to build organizational readiness. Furthermore, knowledge and change management are essential areas to keep into consideration to avoid rigidity in search of stability as well as to use transformations not only to drive organizational learning but also to unleased new sources of knowledge and ways of learning. An agile transformation will centre the organization on people, allowing to blend customers and employees’ experiences improving satisfaction and performance at the same time. In order to drive a transformation from “within” and to build a “people centred” organization it is necessary to think out of the box, as Einstein pointed out: “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

Thanks for Reading.
Kind Regards.


Marcelo Sauro is an internationally experienced performance and improvement senior manager. He holds an Executive MBA and Master of Science degrees and has helped people and organizations to transform themselves. Not only he led E2E transformations in Global Business Services, R&D, Supply Chain and Finance organizations at all levels within the LATAM and EMEA Regions, but he is also experienced in several industries including Life Science, Healthcare, Insurance, Fintech, Technology, Telecoms, FMCG, Chemicals, Automotive, Energy and Mining. Since 2015, he has been researching and developing content in agile and resilience through Value Ways, while working under contract for customers such as MetLife, Novartis, Vertiv (Emerson NP) and Experian among others. Previously, he worked for more than 7 years as Master Black Belt for a LATAM-based consulting group, which had ASQ, Qualtec and Oriel as business partners. Prior to that, he worked for more than 10 years at BASF and GSK in positions of growing responsibility in the area of Operational Excellence. Marcelo is currently working at Ferring's “International PharmaScience Center” (IPC) for the Global R&D organization in Copenhagen. To find out more please visit www.value-ways.com.

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