Agile Transformation – how you can lead the change in your organization

Agile is the new black. Everyone talks of agile organizations, agile teams, agile processes, agile leadership, agile culture – in short, the benefits of being agile. How about going agile?

Adaptable, scalable, creative, responsive, flexible – hence, agile. An agile organization is the organic, shifting, alive counterpart of yesteryear’s more traditional, rigid, cumbersome model. It is new, it is exciting, it is people-centric both sides of the counter, and it is the only way to survive and thrive today.

Agile transformation is not an overnight process: one doesn’t just take an organization and turn it Agile. It’s not a product you purchase over the counter, or a course you get everyone enrolled into. It’s a mindset that needs to be rolled out, top to bottom, for the whole organization to transform.

Why doesn’t everyone go Agile?

Imagine you’ve been through life in monochrome, all you’ve ever seen is black and white, and shades of grey. Suddenly, one day, color is restored to your vision. How do you react? Are you happy, excited to be looking at the world literally with new eyes, in a whole new light? Or would you be scared, and mistrusting, having been pulled out of your comfort zone?

As a leader, your reaction to this scenario will determine how suited you may be to an agile transformation.

Agility starts at the top

Research into business practices and methodologies confirms that leadership and its effects on company culture are the main obstacles – or conversely – the driving force behind an agile culture. The helmsman in particular needs to go through a holistic, agile transformation: cultivate a new mindset, approach problems differently, respond instead of reacting. Genuinely having a healthy lifestyle, for example, is not something you do as a hobby, over a few spare hours every week. If you are convinced of the benefits, you put in an effort. You make changes, you transform, you become.

This transformation doesn’t mean unlearning what you learned in business school – it just means that instead of the tried and tested recipe for success, a new kind of application of thought is needed; using the same knowledge in a different way.

What makes you agile?

The ability to entertain innovative thought without judgement as well as the ability to self-transform; the ability to transform teams into closer-knit units; and the ability to turn the whole organization agile by re-designing existing and designing new processes, are listed as some of the most important skills for such a leader.

Instead of constantly looking towards the horizon for challenges to deal with or preset calendars to follow, agile leaders possess a creative mindset: they create value for all stakeholders. Instead of running defense, these leaders go out and play! Although this is not an easy or instant process, the rewards are far too many; a shift in mindset being the least of them all.

Time is just a construct

You can’t have a timeframe. Several shifts over a period of time are needed for full transformation. You can plan it out like a gym schedule to focus on areas highlighted by your coach, the organized approach. Or do random bits as and when you can. The time your agile transformation takes will depend on how organized or haphazard your approach is. Mindful intent is absolutely necessary. As is the willingness to accept, change, and grow. Replacing reactive with creative from the get-go can equip an individual to lead this transformation with flying colors.

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