Change & Transformation: Bang the Drum

In recent years it has become an increasingly common occurrence for organisations to bang the Agile drum when it comes to transformation methodology. Within Norman Broadbent’s Change & Transformation practice we have increasingly found that candidates experienced in leading genuinely agile programmes are viewed more favourably during a recruitment process than those without.

Is this preference warranted? It is not unusual for clients to request introductions to candidates with experience leading multiple Agile Projects or Programmes. Organisations are increasingly valuing change at speed and improvements created within a relatively short period of time. This shift has only exacerbated during 2020 due to ever-tightening budgets and a need to adapt quicky to overcome the changing business landscape.

A survey taken in 2017 by the PMI found that 71% of organisations surveyed utilised an Agile approach for their change programmes, a number which can only have increased since [https://www.pmi.org/-/media/pmi/documents/public/pdf/learning/thought-leadership/pulse/pulse-of-the-profession-2017.pdf]. Furthermore, the Harvard Business review found in a 2018 survey that organisations who had leveraged Agile methodology companywide reported 60% higher revenue and profit growth when compared to other companies surveyed [https://hbr.org/sponsored/2018/03/survey-data-shows-that-many-companies-are-still-not-truly-agile]

Should candidates now invest in Agile qualifications? Evidence shows that the Agile methodology is better suited for a modern business environment as it enables programme managers and organisations to move change forward with a more adaptable and performance driven approach. Being able to demonstrate expertise in Agile and evidence success will be pivotal for candidates.

Will the trend for Agile driven companies leading the pack continue in 2021? Agile as a methodology is better suited to environments where collaboration is simple, which itself is easier when team members and the key stakeholders are co-located. Given that the level of interaction is more frequent and more demanding in this methodology, it could be the case that for the short term, given remote working, Agile is less effective, leading to organisations returning to a more traditional approach to enable the maximum chance of success when embarking upon change.

Given the uncertainty businesses are experiencing, at the start of 2021, organisations may take a hybrid approach, allowing them the flexibility of Agile to cope with the change landscape but blending that with the defined scope of Waterfall to ensure that the reduced levels of ‘facetime’ colleagues have does not hinder progress.

What will tomorrow look like? In the future, Programme Managers (at least in IT), will need to be able to move between Agile and traditional approaches as appropriate, especially given pandemic challenges. ‘Hardliners’ on both sides of the argument will be discounted and organisations which only allow one form of process management will wane. Not every problem can be solved with the same solution, and if Covid has taught us anything it is that flexibility is king.

I conclusion, 2021 (and beyond) will be a year of fluidity. Approaches will flex and evolve, responding to and reflecting changing business and technical environments. Inflexible individuals will fall by the wayside as will risk-unaware newcomers. What will endure is the theme of selecting the right tool for the right job, doing the right thing for the challenge ahead, and utilising the right subject matter knowledge.

If you would like to discuss this article in more detail, learn more about the Norman Broadbent Group, or perhaps discuss your people or organisational challenges, please do not hesitate to contact Fraser Hunt via fraser.hunt@normanbroadbent.com