Paradigm Interactions shares its knowledge and experience of Business Agility and Ways of Working Transformation

No one would let someone have a go at Brain Surgery yet Company Boards will let both large Blue Chip consultancies (supposedly to manage risk) and Internal Staff (to save money) have a go at Business Agility (Agile Transformation, Ways of Working, Operational Transformation or Optimisation). 

No one would let someone have a go at Brain Surgery yet amateurs are playing with the future of many Companies and Organisations

Karl Smith, CEO, Paradigm Interactions Inc.

What are the considerations to consider in hiring Business Agility and Ways of Working Transformation expertise?

“The first and most important thing to recognise is that Business Transformation is the skill and Agile is the passion. Hiring Agile Coaches to do Business Transformation is business suicide. Likewise hiring Business Transformation people with no experience of Agile Delivery is also business suicide. Lastly businesspeople need to accept they will be challenged by an actual expert, they will listen and try to evolve the organisation, not break it to make it, but build on what’s there. They won’t try and do what they have done before they will first try to understand your business, your objectives and strategy and then create a proposal on how and where to start. They won’t go big bang, they will propose a pilot of an end to end function that cross cuts the organisation to test what can be done and what level of benefit it will offer”.

Are Business Agility programmes 100% successful?

“Business Agility is slow before it gets fast, small before big and wrong before it becomes right. I worked on a programme where a very well-known Blue-Chip consultancy claimed 100% success on a previous Business Agility programme. We asked for the name of the client and a contact, neither were available. They arrived on site through a business unit who had read their sales pitch online and believed it completely. We spent 6 months trying to get them to understand the basic concepts of Business Agility however their mind sets were toward creating standard patterns they could own and reuse, somewhat horrifically also reinventing Agile terminology to try and own it. Due to their general ignorance on Business Agility they were on an outcomes-based contract that could never be completed as professional Business Agile Transformation is not time boxed and outcomes are very hard to predict, as takes years to adopt in existing organisations. Business Agility Transformation contracts cannot be outcomes based in the normal ways as the transformation is a mixture of mindsets and practices, artefacts can be created but they don’t denote DONE”.

Are Business Agility programmes ever Complete if they are about hearts and minds rather than about technology?

“As with the previous section Business Agility, Agile Transformation and Ways of Working are all essentially the same thing. The transformation cannot be time boxed and in fact should evolve over time, adapting to meet the needs of the client’s market and their business. Business Agility Transformation is both an evolution and a revolution meaning that it keeps on going forever and adapts to enable the business to adapt, so no it never ends, but it does normalise”.

Are Business Agility programmes created by “Hero’s?

“The notion that one person delivers Business Agility is a total fallacy, it’s a team activity where every person willing to participate aids the outcome. Avoid Agile Hero’s it’s unlikely they understood what it took to deliver Business Agility and would not be able to replicate it without their previous team”.

Is Business Agility programme focused on one part of an organisation?

“It’s a little odd but there is a lot of NIMBY’s in Transformation. The ‘Not in my backyard’ is quite prevalent in enterprises. Executives and Senior Managers are happy for someone else to change but are very unhappy at being asked to change themselves. Impacting their carefully crafted careers often meets extreme resistance. So Transformation is often focused on the path of least resistance. Business Agility only works when the board, finance, legal, HR, portfolio, programme and project levels embrace it too, everyone is changed. Because Business Agility is totally interconnected, there needs to be an expectation that both Business Agility and Current Business practice will run at the same time. This will mean that Risk Management will require two taxonomies and two different processes to be run at the same time. This is essential as in-flight work cannot be stopped while transformation work is piloted and then launched as the standard practice. Long term work may not also be converted to a new way of working so the management and structure of it may persist for many years until complete. Selection of these long term programmes would require a risk assessment against agreed deadlines or regulatory compliance”.

Does Business Agility Transformation create Rebels and Dissidents?

“Change is unexpected in hierarchical organisations, in fact people have over the years fended off a lot of transformation and change. People have become adept at swallowing up the transformation funds and ensuring the delivery of nothing. Transformation and change are for very many organisations counterculture, to be endured till they run out of money or patronage so that the old order can reassert itself in a very public way. There will always be rebels and dissidents in the situation of transformation and change so the question is not how to discover them but how to mitigate their impacts. In my previous experiences we have set up a taskforce to deal with the impacts of rebels and dissidents. Like them direct action is not the way, in fact we created broad strokes with wide transparency to deal with misinformation so that the purveyors of such would cripple their own networks with obvious untruths (against the now public truth). This is one method of around eight functional mitigations”.

Does Business Agility Transformation fundamentally change portfolio management?

“While the primary focus of many organisations is their output it is impossible to improve this until the input is transformed also. You can’t change production or delivery of services or products until you change how its led, managed, funded and how people are contracted or valued”.

Does Business Agility Transformation fundamentally change how finance works?

“If your funding for work is based upon supporting specialist-based departments being funded or portfolios with programmes and projects being funded, then Business Agility changes both these models”.

Does Business Agility Transformation change the contracts for all staff and vendors?

“Moving from a specialist-based department or programmes and projects system changes what people do for a living, where they work, how they are assessed and how they are valued, hence paid”.

Does Business Agility Transformation change how work is described many transformations mention a work type taxonomy’s?

I think many people will be asking “what is a work type taxonomy”, well it’s a description of work that has value to the organisation a common taxonomy would be;

  • Business initiated work
  • Technology initiated work
  • Technology maintain and support work
  • Unplanned work

Does Business Agility Transformation change the ratio of producers to non-producers in a positive way?

“Something quite shocking about how organisations have evolved since the second world war is that the number of people who make money or achieve the actual intent of an organisation ‘producers’ is dropping and managers and administrators ‘non producers’ is rising. In some organisation for every 10 people only 3 are producers in commercial organisations this 30% make all the money and deliver all the services that justify the 70%. A major outcome from Business Agility is the redistribution of non-producers, refocus or their loss. Most organisation have large administrations functions that can be reduced by 90% or more by the implementation of Business Agility. If you want to know how”.

Does Business Agility Transformation increased the number of staff instead of redeploying them?

“The way most organisations deal with change and transformation is to absorb its funding mainly through hiring of staff. However in Business Agility most new staff are short term hires to deliver the guide rails for transformation and change or are converts from existing old ways of working, with the exception of a few specialists to support the transformation strategy”.

Is Business Agility Transformation delivered by Agile Fanatics (Evangelists) and Framework users?

“Extrapolating frameworks into reality is rather difficult, but it supremely better than attempting to cookie cutter businesses or organisations into frameworks. A transformation is symbiotic not a replacement of one incomplete and nonresponsive working practice with another one. Transformation by its very nature adopts and adds to the existing, getting that balance is essential, least the essence of a business or organisation become lost”.

Can Business Agility Transformation be completely delivered by internal staff?

“As much as Businesses and Organisations want to be in control of their futures, they will attempt transformation and change themselves without external involvement. There are a number of reasons for doing so, but essentially it comes down to control and managing unpalatable truths. This is also the reason they often fail to deliver real transformation or change. This is the point of bringing in externals, they can be the bad guys without it affecting their career in the business or organisation. Being external they can share bad news and define options to deal with them without preference to any person’s agenda. To deliver of Business Agility then, independence is essential to ensure that agility does not simply mask another restrictive and controlling agenda, which is open for business by compromise and for allegiance gains by key stakeholders. Businesses and Organisations need some bad guys, that’s the role of external Business Agility Consultants”.

Can Business Agility Transformation be delivered by HR internal staff?

“Transformation is simply not the HR skill set, though many are now hiring Transformation Consultants the agendas a quite clear when the work is done. HR are great at Policy and BAU but creative and unrelenting Transformation work, incapable by mindset. Business Agility is Delivered by non-partisan (not seeking to expand engagement) Transformation Consultants with a personal Agile story. These people are rather hard to find, they tend to be a mixture of strategists, service designers and agilest with prior organisational design experience”.

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