Rightsourcing Organizational Agility

November 26, 2012 CollabNet VersionOne

Guest post from George Schlitz, BigVisible Co-Founder & Coach

In today’s complex business environment, people and teams can be overwhelmed with the sheer amount of change they face. If priorities ever seem clear, they quickly shift in response to new competition, rapid innovation in the marketplace, changing regulations, leadership changes, or any number of crises. Customers are asking for more, faster, and with higher quality than ever before. Meanwhile, as demand increases more rapidly, our capability more or less remains the same. If our organizations are to survive (let alone thrive) in this increasingly complex environment, they will have to change in fundamental ways.What businesses need is organizational agility, that pervasive cultural shift that allows companies to sense and respond to change.

Truly agile organizations measure success by business outcomes. In product development, they focus more on small innovations that can be proven quickly than on grandiose multi-year plans that become out of date quickly – with learning that informs their product strategy and business models.  They leverage small, independent teams, which are empowered to solve problems in innovative ways, and focus on defect prevention rather than defect detection. Agile organizations have the courage to change old rules—rules that made sense at one time but now seem to get in the way.  Their leaders are learning how to catalyze success and improvement, while designing environments for their teams in which innovation and improvement can thrive.

The Holistic Nature of Agility

Becoming an agile organization means much more than just kicking off agile development teams.  For agile teams to be truly successful, organizational structures and processes must enable them – different ways to plan, measure and report progress and success; more collaborative ways of dealing with holistic concerns like architecture,infrastructure and operations and user experience;different ways of ensuring compliance with regulations; a greater focus on quality; and more.  Self-organization requires different styles of management and leadership – more catalyzing, less coordinating.  And if that wasn’t enough, to truly benefit from increased delivery capability requires capability in product strategy – without which we might just be doing a lot more stuff that doesn’t delight customers.

This can be an overwhelming concept, and it is very difficult to do alone.  Forrester’s “Rightsource your Agile/Lean Ecosystem” discusses the importance of partnering with the right sources of expertise, including agile coaching and agile change strategy. Read more on my blog.

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