In order to drive agile transformations within organizations, it is important to define the principles which in contrast to those from the Scientific Management will allow organizations to bring agility. On one hand, those principles will enable to develop a new paradigm to have not only a clear vision of the future state but also to distinguish “agile” from the “mechanical” at both organizational design as well as operating model levels. On the other, the future state will also highlight “enablers” for the agile transformation within the organization current state, which is essential not only to assess organizational readiness but also to develop a “tailor-made” transformation roadmap. Moreover, the needed “capabilities” to lead and manage both business transformation as well as the future agile organization will be also highlighted. Furthermore, by having both weaknesses and strengths executives and organizations will be empowered not only to develop new capabilities but also to nurture those that the organization already have and might serve as “drivers” for the agile transformation. But where to focus in order to excel in your agile transformation?

Developing new capabilities

First and foremost, once the gap between current and needed capabilities is established the organization must act based on the findings. While the technological gap is usually easy to identify and address because usually budget is the main barriers, the gap at “process” and “people” levels is neither as clear nor as easy to tackle. The first step is to develop a strategy followed by training and coaching plans at all organizational levels. For instance, “gemba” and coaching are essential leadership capabilities to drive the agile transformation. Whereas, within the team it is important to develop not only teamwork but also skill matrixes to level up competencies between team members in order to create flexibility. However, within the process of developing new capabilities the organization must not forget which its strengths are. What is more, people at all level must not forget what its strengths are.

Nurturing existing strengths

Another key point to consider is not only identify but also nurture “strengths” at an organizational as well as an individual level. Moreover, organizational level “strengths” are the foundations upon which competitive advantages can be built. Furthermore, individual “strengths” at different organizational levels can be turned into leadership and teamwork capabilities. In addition, “strengths” must be also developed to reach their full potential at individual and organizational levels. While weaknesses can be seen as “barriers” that can prevent the organization to successfully drive its agile transformation, strengths are not only “enablers” for the transformation but also for the organization itself. Moreover, the prioritization of the “enablers” will rely on the strategical context. Although those useful in the short term should be developed first, the ones useful in the long term must not be forgotten.

Developing capabilities and aligning strengths

In the first place, the agile transformation and organization will be the strategic context to define weaknesses and strengths at organizational and individual levels. Although the organization must develop new capabilities to eliminate “barriers” that can prevent a successful agile transformation, must not forget that its strengths might act as “enablers” not only for the agile transformation but also to develop new competitive advantages. Therefore, “strengths” must be nurtured and what is more they should be aligned with an E2E perspective which is an essential leadership function since it relies on leaders to “Create an alignment of strengths in ways that make system’s weaknesses irrelevant” as stated by Peter Drucker. To conclude, I would like to point out the focus on “strengths” to avoid “failure” and “standardization” of agile transformations since organizations must reach out for “excellence” not as an outcome but as a continuous pursuit. I believe Peter Drucker’s advice for personal development applies also to organizations: “One should waste as little time as possible on improving areas of low competence. It takes far more energy to improve from incompetence to mediocrity that it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence”.

Thanks for Reading.

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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