Published on

December 13, 2022

Keys to a Successful Agile Workforce Transformation

Jannik Weichert photo

Jannik Weichert

Managing Director


Learning Hub

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A group working agile

An agile transformation involves a mindset and culture shift and the implementation of specific tools and processes. It requires commitment and effort from leadership and all levels of the organization. In this blog, we will delve into the concept of agile transformation, its benefits, why it is essential, and the skills needed for this transformation. We will explore what an agile organization can look like and provide insights and advice from experts and practitioners.

What is an agile transformation?

An agile transformation refers to the process of adopting agile values, principles, and practices in an organization. An agile approach is a way of thinking and working that values flexibility, collaboration, and customer focus. During an agile transformation, an organization typically seeks to become more agile by adopting agile methodologies and practices, such as continuous delivery and improvement. Here are the three most popular agile practices:

1. Scrum: A framework for managing and completing complex projects. It is characterized by short iterations (called "sprints") in which cross-functional teams work together to deliver small increments of a product.

2. Kanban: A method for managing and improving workflows, which involves visualizing work as cards on a board and using policies to limit work-in-progress and optimize flow.

3. Lean: A philosophy and set of principles for maximizing value and minimizing waste and is based on the Toyota Production System.

Agile transformation can involve changes to the way work is structured and managed, as well as changes to the culture and mindset of an organization. Finally, the goal is to improve the organization's ability to respond to change, deliver value to customers, and increase efficiency and effectiveness.

Why is an agile transformation crucial for your organization’s success?

Although companies in today’s work environment are exposed to extreme dynamics, surprises, and rapid changes, many still cling to rigid project workflows and traditional management approaches. What is the consequence? Inefficiency and untapped potential! Many projects take forever to be completed, hindered by significant interdependencies. To avoid these problems today and in the future, businesses need to become agile.

For companies that apply agile methods, multiple advantages and opportunities arise. First, they can start their project faster than ever without spending a lot of time planning each step first. As a result, the initial motivation of all participants remains high, and there is nothing to block a dynamic and productive first project phase. The many team meetings, feedback loops with customers, and iterative adjustments to project processes and tasks allow for flexibility and early detection of errors. This enables employees to stay focused and follow effective workflows that yield fast and optimal results. In the long term, agile approaches increase the potential of your processes and thus set you apart from other companies on the market.

The more agile a company, the better its financial performance.

In a broad survey of 285 leading European companies, it was found that agile companies perform up to 2.7 times better than non-agile companies (Olbert S., Prodoehl H.G., Worley C., 2019).

We know that an agile management approach can help companies become more successful. However, many companies face the challenge of designing such an agile transformation, so what could it look like?

What does an agile organization look like?

An agile organization values flexibility, collaboration, and customer focus. It is characterized by a culture of continuous learning and improvement and is organized in a manner that enables it to respond quickly to change.

In an agile organization, work is typically organized into small, cross-functional teams empowered to make decisions and deliver value to customers. These teams are self-organizing and self-managing, using agile methodologies to plan and execute their work. This means that they are able to adapt quickly to changing circumstances, and they can deliver value to customers regularly.

Agile teams are typically co-located and work in an open, collaborative environment. They use agile tools and techniques, such as daily stand-up meetings and agile boards, to keep everyone informed about what is happening and to identify and address any roadblocks or issues that arise. They also engage with their customers regularly to gather feedback and ensure that the products or services they deliver meet the market's needs.

Agile organizations also place a strong emphasis on transparency and communication. They use agile principles to ensure they focus on delivering customer value rather than getting bogged down in bureaucracy. They also use agile practices, such as continuous delivery and integration, to ensure that they can deliver high-quality products and services quickly and efficiently.

Overall, an agile organization distinguishes itself from others by being able to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing environment. It can respond quickly to change, deliver customer value, and increase efficiency and effectiveness. It is characterized by a culture of continuous learning and improvement and is organized in a way that enables it to be flexible and responsive. Executing these processes might not be intuitive for every employee, which is why the leadership has to keep upskilling their employees in mind to make the strategy a company-wide success.

The five most important benefits of an agile transformation

1. Improve ability to respond to change

Agile organizations can adapt quickly to changing circumstances, which allows them to stay competitive and respond to the needs of their customers. This is because agile methodologies, such as Scrum and Kanban, allow teams to plan and execute their work in short iterations, which enables them to adjust their plans as needed. This is in contrast to traditional, Waterfall-style approaches, which are less flexible and can be slow to respond to change.

2. Increase efficiency and effectiveness

Agile organizations use continuous delivery and continuous integration techniques to streamline their processes and eliminate waste, leading to increased efficiency and effectiveness. Continuous delivery means that teams can deliver new products or features to customers regularly, which can reduce the time it takes to get new products to market. Continuous integration means that teams are able to integrate new code into their codebase frequently, which can help catch errors and bugs early on.

3. Improve customer satisfaction

Agile organizations focus on delivering value to customers regularly and gathering regular feedback, which can lead to increased customer satisfaction. By engaging with customers and gathering their input, agile teams can deliver products and features that are more closely aligned with the market's needs. This can lead to increased customer loyalty and satisfaction.

4. Increase team productivity and morale

Agile teams are self-organizing and empowered to make decisions, which can lead to increased team productivity and morale. By giving teams the autonomy to plan and execute their work, agile organizations are able to tap into the expertise and creativity of team members, which can lead to higher engagement and productivity.

5. Improve communication and collaboration

Agile organizations emphasize transparency and communication, which can lead to improved collaboration and better decision-making. Agile practices, such as daily stand-up meetings and agile boards, help to keep everyone informed about what is happening and help to identify and address any roadblocks or issues that arise. This can lead to a more collaborative and efficient work environment.

Two people collaborating together

What are the six most important skills for an agile transformation?

1. Be a leader

Strong leadership is critical for guiding the change process and creating a culture of continuous learning and improvement. This includes setting the vision for the transformation, communicating the benefits and purpose of the change, and providing support and resources to help teams succeed. Overall, leadership needs to be transparent, so employees understand the direction of the team or company to reach organizational goals. This culminates in a stronger team that is also more motivated.

2. Communicate effectively

Effective communication is essential for ensuring everyone is aligned and understands the changes occurring during an agile transformation. This includes being able to clearly articulate the goals and objectives of the transformation for employees to understand easily. Effective communication also enables organizations to listen to and address concerns and feedback from team members and consider them in future actions.

3. Collaborate

Agile approaches emphasize collaboration and cross-functional teamwork, so working effectively with others is important. The collaboration extends to members from different departments, which means a common language has to be established that enables everyone to communicate. This includes being able to build relationships, share knowledge and ideas, and support the success of the team as a whole.

4. Adapt

Agile transformations involve change, and being able to adapt to new ways of working is essential. This means being open to new ideas, being willing to try new approaches, and being able to learn and grow as the organization evolves. Part of this transformation should be done by giving employees access to e-learning offerings that are tailored to their needs.

5. Solve problems

Agile teams often face complex problems, and thinking creatively and developing effective solutions are important. This includes being able to identify the root causes of problems, being able to break down complex issues into smaller, more manageable pieces, and being able to generate and evaluate potential solutions. It also comes back to the third skill, asking for help when needed and collaborating on solving problems, especially when they are entirely new.

6. Focus on customers

Agile approaches place a strong emphasis on customer value, so understanding and responding to customer needs is important. This includes being able to gather and analyze customer feedback, being able to prioritize work based on customer needs, and being able to deliver value to customers regularly. In the end, the work produced focused on adding customer value rather than being hung up in bureaucracy.

Start your agile workforce transformation now

Agile transformation can be a powerful tool for organizations looking to improve efficiency and adaptability. However, it's important to remember that agile is just one piece of the puzzle. Organizations must also learn how to implement ambidexterity to truly unlock the benefits of agile. Ambidexterity refers to the ability of an organization to explore new opportunities and exploit existing strengths concurrently.

Do you want to find out how agile transformation could help your organization, and which possibilities exist to implement it? Read our guide for all the information you need.

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edyoucated is funded by leading research institutions such as the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB), Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK).

Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung (BIBB)