Able Round Table: Agile and Organisational Change

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The Agile Brain

Last month, we hosted business leaders and change practitioners in our London office to discuss ‘Agile and Organisational Change.’  We have observed that businesses are increasingly working in Agile ways to keep up with customer demand, and to deliver products and services that meet their needs.

We have started to see that Agile practices change the way organisations deliver projects. It affects the order of things, the role of leadership and how these organisations operate culturally.  When we look at organisational transformations it is clear to us that the people delivering the change are presented with challenges in the way that they support both projects and a broader Agile adoption.

We gathered people to discuss that further.  And here are some of the things we shared, we learned and we agreed.

Re-thinking organisational change delivery

The coming together of new Agile ways of working is having an effect on how organisational change practitioners support the businesses.

You can look at how management teams, business areas and specialist groups adapt to Agile ways of working and what that means.

At an individual level we see it when people responsible for organisational change provide support to particular projects to help them deliver the people side of change successfully.

Key insights

  1. Agile is appearing in all kinds of organisations.
  2. It can be seen as a barrier to broader participation – an unintentional ‘exclusive club’.
  3. It is possible to ‘work around’ Agile. Without proper challenge and discipline it can run aground.
  4. There is some organisational scepticism about it’s use outside of IT projects.
  5. People want to know where and how to start.

Organisational change in practice

People who work to support the people side of change, can be more effective in an Agile world by thinking in terms of needing to ‘Be Agile’ and to ‘Do Agile’.

This means adopting some of the values and behaviours that embody Agile in to the way in which they work. But also, aligning some of their methods and practical application to some of the tools and processes that make Agile work.

  • Start small, and be prepared to earn respect and attention by delivering success
  • Learn Agile, to help the organisation get it
  • Focus on how to ‘Be Agile’ and ‘Do Agile’
  • Prioritise ‘promoting Agile’ into the organisation if change is going to be successful
  • Understand your role in helping leaders and stakeholder come on the Agile journey
  • Make Agile adjustments to tools and how you use them, rather than going all out, from the start


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