In the current economic landscape every business needs a super power to keep ahead of the competition.
Competition is fierce. Customer expectations are increasing, the pace of change is continuing to rise, and the ability to reduce cost, all at the same time is now considered the norm if a business is to stay ahead. In our annual Barometer on Change 2017 report, 76% of organisations had felt an increase in the pace and pressure of change.
At Moorhouse we believe that being agile is the single most important super power to possess in this current business environment. Agility to adapt your business strategy to remain on course for success, agility in your organisation to continuously innovate and adapt in response to changes in strategic requirements, and agility to implement change initiatives faster, at lower cost, and realise business benefits earlier.
Lets be clear, what is “agile”?
The term ‘agile’ has become an increasingly popular topic of conversation across most industry sectors and in the business media. Agile originally refers to the iterative delivery approach born out of IT software development. When the Agile Manifesto was first published in 2001, it highlighted the importance of creating a delivery approach that was flexible and interactive, responded to change instead of getting stuck over a plan, and focused on collecting customer feedback to help deliver the right outcome first time around.
Since then, organisations have become more ambitious about the benefits agile can deliver. Not just to a single product or team, but the way in which business strategy is developed and maintained, how organisations are designed and resourced, and the way in which business transformation is implemented and embedded.
Keeping business strategy relevant
The planning horizon for a traditional business strategy is typically three to five years. In a world of ever-increasing pace of change, an organisation’s strategy needs to be re-visited more frequently to adapt to rapid changes in market conditions, the competitor landscape and internal developments.
If we consider the last 20 years, we have seen new technologies disrupting a range of industries. Netflix now has more than 100 million users, Facebook has more than one billion users, 2.32 billion people own a smart phone, and Google processes 3.5 billion searches per day. In this new digital age, change is relentless. Therefore organisations need to be able to adapt to these changes if they are to stay ahead of the competition.
By embracing agile principles, such as a more iterative approach with shorter planning horizons, we introduce the concept of having a continuous assessment of strategic goals and the ability to adjust and refine the strategy in a more agile way. Organisations shouldn’t be afraid to update the business strategy more frequently to respond to changing environmental factors, keeping it relevant and increasing the likelihood of success.
A key challenge to be mindful of is maintaining high stakeholder confidence as changes to the business strategy may appear as a sign of weakness or lack of confidence in the progress being made towards agreed goals.
To address this, stakeholders should be taken on the journey towards becoming more agile. Central to this is ensuring a shared vision exisits that key stakeholders are bought into. Establishing an enterprise level portfolio management capability is also increasingly important, to ensure that the organisation’s investment in change initiatives remains aligned to and optimised to deliver the business strategy as it evolves.
An organisation that breathes innovation
With the need to more frequently adapt business strategy in response to rapidly changing environment factors (risks or opportunities), an organisations’ culture and operating model must be able to adapt and embrace change like never before. Innovation needs to be an embedded mindset across the organisation and the ability to deliver continuous improvement needs to be part of business as usual operations, in addition to major change projects and programmes.
Adopting the principles of collaboration, innovation and flexibility can help achieve this new state of organisational agility. However making changes to an organisational culture and operating model design can be incredibly difficult and time consuming. Historical structures, silos and hierarchies need to be restructured in a way that allows them to remain fluid enough to continuously embrace change whilst keeping clear and effective lines of governance in place.
Transform the way you implement
Many organisations have spent years developing in-house project delivery frameworks, underpinned by sequential and highly controlled delivery methodologies. With more iterative, principles-based methodologies becoming more popular and better understood in terms of how to deploy them, organisations have an opportunity to deliver meaningful change more rapidly to maximise business benefits.
Agile approaches are increasingly being adopted outside of traditional IT software development project environments. The adoption in small discrete projects is typically the first step taken by many, such as R&D projects, before scaling up and deploying within large transformation projects and programmes.
The journey towards making agility your super power can be challenging, but the benefits can be the key enabler that grows your business and keeps you one step ahead of competition. Introducing agility to your business strategy,organisational culture and operating model, and in the way you implement change can each present their own challenges. Based on our experience, the keys to success are to develop in incremental steps, and be open to learn along the way. To coin a phrase, the approach to adopting agile needs to be done in an agile way!
At Moorhouse we have helped organisations from across the FTSE100, public sector bodies, as well as SMEs address the above aspects of agility. We have seen first hand where organisations have succeeded in making agility their super power, and the key lessons learnt along the way.
To explore the challenges and opportunities of being agile in your organisation, please contact us here.
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