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Agile Transformation

Definition of Agile Transformation - Agile transformation refers to a company or organization’s full transition into the agile mindset, but at a deeper level than you might expect. It doesn’t just apply to the product development team. Instead, agile transformation is concerned with reshaping the business as a whole. 

By undergoing an agile transformation, an organization commits itself to nurture a more collaborative work environment, with a greater emphasis on creativity, employee initiative, innovative approaches, and a reduction in unnecessary management. 

As you might expect, the agile transformation can be a complex process. Change of this type demands careful planning and a concrete grasp of what ‘being agile’ actually entails. 

That’s why it’s important for organizations to keep employees in the loop throughout the transformation process and define what impact the new structure will have on their day-to-day work. 

Most importantly, businesses need to appreciate that agile transformation requires a major shift in company culture — not just a few small changes here and there. 

But agile transformation is often worth the effort. 

After all, adopting an agile methodology can lead to significant ongoing improvements and unlock employees’ potential...

The benefits of agile transformation 

Agile transformation offers businesses a number of benefits over time. These include:

Boosting efficiency, reducing obstacles

One of the key benefits of agile transformation is the increase in efficiency. This manifests as a tighter focus on collaboration and interaction between teams. 

Departments no longer stay restricted to their own tasks without taking any involvement in their colleagues’ work: teams can share their knowledge and skills to create better products and operate in a more efficient way.

Stronger communication

Following on from the above point, better communication plays a core role in boosting collaboration. Agile places greater importance on sharing ideas, testing, and delivering feedback — all of which require clear open communication.

Teams should have the tools to interact quickly, easily, and efficiently to stay connected. 

Faster product delivery

Just as agile principles can help teams complete development on software projects faster, agile transformation serves to have the same effect on all areas of a business. 

Teams should be trusted more to work independently without being micromanaged every step of the way. This shift in management supervision can be slightly jarring at first, but it does help create a smoother, streamlined process, with fewer delays or obstacles to negotiate. 

Key stages in agile transformation

Agile transformation involves various steps. 

To begin with, a company should appoint a team responsible for taking control of the process, establishing targets, and outlining a roadmap to guide the entire organization. It’s essential to spend time choosing the right people, rather than making a snap decision out of convenience (or laziness). 

The team setting the agile transformation in motion should have a concrete understanding of agile principles, the specifics of informing employees across all departments of new processes, and more. The transformation should be tightly-structured and organized well to prevent the workforce from becoming confused or disconnected.

Coaching may be a necessary element of the transformation. Workers at all levels can struggle to adapt and recognize the value in overhauling methods they believe already work well. Some employees will acclimate to the shift better than others, but coaching can still prove helpful for everyone in varying capacities. 

Next, managers play a vital role in the success of an agile transformation.

Management should be made fully aware of the transition to a less-bureaucratic structure. Employees will be given greater flexibility to achieve goals their own way without needing constant approval, though obviously, we’re not telling you to let go of your C-Suite!

Managers will be required to place greater trust in their teams to do their job effectively, with less micromanagement or rigid hierarchy. The workforce will be empowered to evaluate and solve problems on their own, applying their experience, skills, and initiative to improve products or workflows sooner.

Ongoing assessment and refinement will be necessary to keep operations as efficient as they can be. Changes to the work environment are a common element of agile transformation, too. The current office layout might be a barrier to achieving the level of collaboration and team dynamics needed. 

In this case, the transformation might be as simple as moving desks around or a little more complicated, such as taking down walls and creating more meeting spaces. This demands investment, and further costs may be incurred by new software, tools, hardware, and training, too. 

When do you need to try agile transformation?

Agile transformation can benefit most companies, but particularly those struggling to achieve goals or break new ground.

A dramatic shift in company culture may also help combat a high churn rate of highly-skilled employees. After all, an agile transformation may help staff feel more engaged, excited, and empowered in their work.

What’s more, agile transformation cultivates a more innovative, creative approach to accomplishing goals and bringing products of the highest quality to market in less time. Companies suffering from negative customer feedback, diminishing returns, and a weakened reputation can see real benefits from undertaking an agile transformation.

If any of the above sounds like your organization, maybe it’s time to consider an agile transformation.

Sure, the entire process takes time, commitment, and lots of hard work, but it creates valuable new opportunities to improve. And, as a result, organizations can keep growing and expanding their capabilities over time.

Q&A

Question: What are some common challenges in agile transformation?
Answer: Agile transformation can be a long process often spanning over years. Some of the common challenges are the changes in the leadership, the extensive communication of the agile values to employees and the customer-centric approach can be difficult to be adopted by all the company's departments.
Question: What is the difference between Agile Adoption and Agile Lean Transformation?
Answer: The two terms are often confused and used interchangeably. While Agile Adoption refers to the act of doing agile, the adoption part refers to putting Agile into effect. Agile transformation is transforming to agility while adopting and implementing Lean values.

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