5 points of reference to let agility mature in the company


5 points of reference to let agility mature in the company

Agility at team level has now proven itself in many companies. Now decision-makers are also being confronted with this topic at company level.

In our day-to-day work as consultants, we very often experience organizations declaring frameworks such as SAFe or LESS the method of choice without further ado. "Scaling agility according to a proven framework" sounds tempting at first. But stop! Wasn't agility about being able to survive in a complex, unpredictable, ambiguous, ever-changing world?

In a world where the future is not the linear continuation of the present? Our experience as agile consultants shows: In today's world there is no simple scaling according to a formula. A framework alone is not enough.

We have summarized what is needed and how you can learn to deal better with complexity and ambiguity in your organization in 5 theses:

  1. Every organization is unique
  2. Agility must be allowed to mature
  3. From small to large
  4. Agility requires courage to leave gaps
  5. Agile leadership means creating the framework for self-organization

Every organization is unique

With its products, its values ​​and its people, no company is like the other. A specific framework as a one-size-fits-all solution can therefore not be sufficient to successfully establish scaling and transformation in your organization. The framework has to be adapted much more to the company and its individual needs. In this way, you create an approach together step by step that suits you and your company and at the same time promote trust, transparency and understanding in your team.
In our consulting work, we also rely on agility and less on the classic consulting approach, which specifies a specific solution. Because even we don't know the ideal solution at the beginning. For us, agile consulting means building the right framework for the organization together with our customers and their employees, without ready-made answers.

Agility must be allowed to mature

Agile transformation at company level means change - not only structurally, but above all culturally. Above all, agility requires an open attitude that accepts complexity and the willingness to face a continuous personal and organizational maturing process. Establishing agility sustainably at company level therefore takes time and perseverance above all. As consultants, we consciously accompany our clients in situations of uncertainty and, with an iterative approach, help them to face the challenges and frustration that this inner maturation process entails.

From small to large

A mistake that we often observe in practice is that companies try to impose frameworks such as SAFe or LESS directly on the entire organization and work through them according to textbooks. The painful realization doesn't take long: Either what started out great falls asleep again as quickly as it came, and the attempt is declared a failure; or a pseudo-agile organization is created in which the framework specified by the management is adhered to better and worse, but otherwise does not change anything in the previous way of working. These are often situations in which we come to a company as consultants - when the first attempt has already failed. At this point we repeat ourselves: "Agility must be allowed to mature". But that also means it has to grow incrementally, so it's highly recommended to start small and learn, and then grow bigger and bigger. Those who start small have the best chance of scaling agility sustainably at company level.

Agility requires courage to leave gaps

Agility at the enterprise level means more complexity, more surprises, more ambiguity, and more change. As a result, reality will deviate again and again from the previously prepared plan. So what is needed in the first step is a good deal of “courage to leave gaps”. Because as simple and sensible as it may seem at first to roll out a ready-made solution in the company, it can be just as frustrating when these methods bring the paradox between agile structures and a non-agile attitude to light. It is all the more important to get involved in an agile transformation without answers carved in stone and to have solutions and ideas developed by the very people who know best what the organization needs.
For us as consultants, this means in practice bringing large groups together, moderating and coaching in order to make different knowledge and different perspectives visible. In this way, a common picture emerges of what agile transformation should look like for the respective company and what the next step on the way to the goal is.

Agile leadership means creating the framework for self-organization

Agile transformation and scaling at the enterprise level also brings with it a new approach to leadership, which is a major obstacle in many organizations, but a fundamental ingredient for successful change. Leaders no longer dictate how things should be done. They create framework conditions in which teams can develop to organize themselves, take on responsibility and make decisions. They exemplify behaviors that inspire and motivate the organization to pursue a better way of working. This is a key area that is very often underestimated in practice, but in which we believe it is worth investing. In many organizations, transformation begins at the top, which makes it all the more important for managers to set a good example. First you have to think and act agile. Individual coaching and mutually accompanied feedback among managers are suitable instruments to accompany the rethinking at management level.

And finally ...

In order to scale agility sustainably at the company level, you not only need a suitable framework. In particular, it takes the courage to constantly question this framework and your own accustomed ways of thinking, or have them questioned. Only then will agility suit the respective situation and the people in the company.