Facilitating Digital Transformation the Agile Way

The goal of a digital transformation is to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and the quality of the work product. There are many strategies that can be used, but one of the most successful is adopting an Agile method, which promotes collaboration, flexibility, and adaptability. Originally designed for software development, the Agile method is also applicable to organization and digital transformations. Incorporating Agile principles into work processes offers many benefits including:

  • improves productivity and the speed of decision making
  • taps into the creative energy of an organization’s talent
  • accelerates the time needed to achieve sought-after results

Agile principles address the speed of change in the modern digital age. Organizations no longer have the luxury of taking years to bring a new product to market or to establish a new system to accommodate changing customer expectations. Here are some of the key Agile practices applicable to digital transformation.

Sprint: a short, intensive period where work is divided into small, manageable steps with very specific objectives, such as an organization design working session. Sprints focus on a couple of  objectives or initiatives at a time, which enables a team to prioritize and concentrate their energies and resources. That in turn speeds up decision making and reduces costs.

Communication. Sprints are inherently collaborative, so clear, transparent communication is integral during the flow of work because it ensures acceptance by all stakeholders from the beginning of the transformation and it ensures that all parts of the solution work together in an integrated way.

Stakeholder and customer involvement. Involvement from outside stakeholders can facilitate the overall digital transformation effort, minimize change management needs, and speed up the redesign of the customer experience as it cascades through the choices and systems of the organization.

Team independence. For a team to best reimagine how value will be more effectively delivered to customers or how work can be more efficiently performed by employees, they need room to be creative. Executives and transformation leaders should create an environment where teams can share, create, and collaborate in a safe and open way. This will help encourage the team to develop and deliver unique ways of leveraging information, systems, and organization resources through energetic, constructive debate that leads to a better solution and aligned thinking.

A Transformational Framework

As with any iterative transformation effort that leverages Agile principles and ways of working, following the tried-and-true roadmap of design is key. Companies undertaking digital transformation likewise should follow an approach that answers the strategic questions before developing the operational or tactical solutions by using the following framework:

Diagnosis and assessment. Have a broad range of employees, stakeholders, and customers assess the organization’s current capabilities and identify realignments needed to achieve strategic outcomes. The Cube Model is a valuable tool during the assessment process because it enables organizations to pinpoint any organizational system that is preventing achievement of strategy and/or optimal business results.

Strategy and macro design. Establish a cross-functional team to create a strategy, a business model, and a future customer experience or digital delivery process that will address the strategic gaps highlighted in the diagnosis and assessment.

Micro design. Form teams with expertise on the subject at hand to make organization alignment decisions where the work actually happens and where the customer experience is delivered. Micro design enables delivery of the organization’s strategy through effective work processes, digital capabilities, clear roles and responsibilities, and aligned metrics.

Realization and sustainability. Lastly, build a coordinated plan for disseminating new digital capabilities and an aligned design throughout the organization, monitoring and adapting as needed to ensure that behaviors change and sustainable end goals are achieved.

More organizations are adopting Agile ways of working to achieve digital transformation. To succeed in today’s digital environment, leaders need to embrace Agile’s quick, efficient ways of working over traditional approaches that simply don’t have the needed speed and flexibility to achieve most strategic goals. Using Agile principles to facilitate creative thinking and dynamic realignment will enable organizations to manage the digital transformation journey in the most effective way possible.