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Business Agility is an Essential Survival Strategy in the New Era of Digital Economy

Business Agility is an Essential Survival Strategy in the New Era of Digital Economy
October 12, 2020

Customer centricity, innovation and speed-to-market are the key competitive differentiators required by an enterprise to stay relevant in the new era of digital economy. Digital transformation is mainstream, and enterprises are no longer only focusing on team level Agile practices but scaling ‘Agility’ in each unit of the enterprise. This means that the Agile era now entails moving from team level Agility to business unit Agility and in some cases, even on to Enterprise/Business Agility. However, even with Agile being mainstream for more than two decades, organizations are skeptical about the values they can acquire by adopting Agile and what it takes to imbibe the Agility culture at an enterprise wide-level. This mindset can be attributed to the organizational operating models and the existing constraints in the value stream.

Business agility has become an essential part of survival in the era of the digital economy.

Our experiences and analysis reveal that the common challenges and pitfalls encountered by enterprises while scaling Agile adoption are:

Project centric approach, wherein the funding and budget cycle is aligned annually, and the teams focus shifts to outputs rather than outcomes.

  • Organizational silos leading to constraints in flow of value and hence speed-to-market required for digital economy level competitiveness.
  • Agile transformation being limited to IT only; there is no buy-in from the rest of the organization which leads to an inefficient value stream.
  • Leadership vision does not align with Agility transformation which leads to a state often referred to as ‘Name-sake’ Agile, resulting in falling back to the traditional ways of working.
  • Lack of focus on customer centricity, along with execution focus to build the right solutions.

What is Business Agility

  1. Enables an enterprise to adopt a system thinking approach where everyone is involved in delivering solutions – business, technology, operations, marketing, legal, finance, compliance, security - and other groups in adopting Lean and Agile to deliver innovative, high quality products and services in a faster way and remain competitive.
  2. Agile product delivery with focus on customer centricity.
  3. Amplifies responsiveness in every area of business in an enterprise through a collection of Agile principles and mindset.
  4. A connective tissue between strategy and execution by lean Agile portfolio management.
  5. It is a continuous journey involving all areas moving in alignment with each other.

What Business Agility is not

  1. A prescriptive framework or model and not a one size fits all approach.
  2. The existing structures are not disrupted unnecessarily when adopting Business Agility.
  3. Just team and technical Agility.
  4. The digital transformation journey is not short and timeboxed.

The key drivers to achieve Business Agility include Agile product delivery and a customer centric approach, complemented with Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose via a people, mindset and delivery centered agile transformation strategy. An all-encompassing workforce digital transformation and organizational change management strategy coupled with an execution framework that drives and sustains these changes.

Let us go deeper into the key drivers that are necessary for an enterprise to achieve Business Agility.

Transform to a customer centric and value driven organization

Being customer centric and being able to deliver value simultaneously is easier said than done.

  • The success criteria must be defined at all levels and ‘Alignment’ is key in ensuring that a team’s success contributes to the customer vision and strategy. Alignment also ensures that we create transparency that fosters learning and collaboration across teams, even in a distributed Agile execution model.
  • Individuals and teams must be on the same page when it comes to the customer ask and value focus. Enterprises are moving away from a project centric mindset to a product centric organization that enables connecting the dots from Strategy to Execution.

Transform Agility Delivery practices focusing on ‘Purposeful Agile’

Looking beyond Scrum and moving away from the misconception that ‘Agile = Scrum’ is essential. A collectively built purpose from the CxO levels to the teams is needed to drive ‘Purposeful Agile’

  • ‘Purpose’ driven Agile can be achieved only with a ‘BusDevOps’ structure, wherein business and developers must work together daily throughout the project. This is a fundamental way of thinking and working.
  • Scaling Agile requires discipline, Scrum does not address many critical areas such as architecture, domain complexity, and technical complexity, to name a few. Similarly, other prescriptive models do not provide enough guidance on these topics either. Our approach is to embrace the complexity that an enterprise faces and explicitly tailor the ways of working (WoW) to address that complexity.
  • Moving from ‘Doing Agile’ to ‘Being Agile’ is a mindset and we see that as enterprises mature, they learn that Agile is not just a process and hence ‘Doing Agile’ is not meaningful..

Workforce transformation is a key driver for business agility

HCL realises that ‘People’ are the key differentiators that enable an organizational transformation focus towards that of a Digital, Agile and more customer centric organization.

  • Being an ‘Employee First’ organization, HCL realizes this and has created a unique strategy to address the key ‘people issues’ likely to be faced by most organizations
  • Workforce performance drastically increases when individuals have a sense of Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. Hence workforce transformation plays a pivotal role in planning how to organize and engage talent to prepare for the future of work and to respond to shifting market realities.

Agility culture and mindset

  • Agility and agile principles are a mindset and it is a journey undertaken to achieve the organization’s goals. The importance is the mindset of the individual and the teams to reap the benefits of agility.
  • Culture and mindset encompasses elements of co-creation, collaboration, leadership, and outcome-based focus. All these tenets play a key role in agility transformation.
  • An agility culture requires the enterprise to move from a company-oriented culture towards a people-oriented culture.

Organizational Change management (OCM)

Organizational Change Management (OCM) drives performance agility by engaging clients at the individual, team, and organization levels. Successful OCM starts with the individual and mobilizes large groups of people over time.

  • Organizational Change Management (OCM) enables culture adoption in the digital era. Culture adoption is a barrier in the digital journey. Envisioning and the ultimate delivery of any change, be it even technology change, business process re-imagining is a challenge. What is changing is the way enterprise IT, business, and vendors engage in an iterative, design thinking mode and have innovative conversations to reap the benefits of transformation.

To summarize, Business Agility and the overall digital journey is a continuous journey with all areas moving together in alignment. For large enterprises, Business Agility requires an overall change management strategy that embeds agility across teams, technology, processes, people, and the entire enterprise while measuring what matters, and leveraging data to guide the journey instead of subjectivity and instincts.

References

Agility health enabling business agility - https://agilityhealthradar.com/enterprise-business-agility-model/

SAFe® 5.0 for Lean enterprises - https://v5preview.scaledAgileframework.com/

Business Agility institute – domains of Business Agility