How can companies thrive in uncertain times?
The Secrets behind Scaling Agility in an MNC
Constant transformation and uncertainty have become new norm, laying huge challenges for companies built to thrive in stable environments. Agility is now a hot topic among MNC executives, as it is a critical capability in determining an MNC’s competitiveness and long-term survival in the 21st century.
The term Agility was coined in 2001 by a group of 17 engineers who came up with the Manifesto for Agile Software Development. Since then, agility evolved from a software development framework (Scrum) to a solution ideation methodology (Design Thinking), a prototyping technique (Lean) and even a mixed-management approach for large organizations (sAFE). All these methodologies are based on the same four principles:
Organizational Agility expresses a company’s set of capabilities for thriving and prospering in an unpredictable and rapidly changing environment. Studies show that organizational agility brings three main benefits: ??improved customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and operational performance. When deployed, Agility leads to result-oriented management, very disciplined project deployment, and flatter organizations charts. This approach is a 180 degrees turnaround from the traditional pyramid setup of multinationals. Could this be the reason why most organizations fail at applying it?
Why do most MNCs engaged in agile transformation fail?
In our 18-year experience accompanying multinationals in their digital transformation, disregarding industry, country of origin, we regularly encounter similar challenges.
1: Top Leadership lacks courage or engagement
Becoming agile is a profound personal and organizational transformation. It takes a lot of courage to advocate for this change, as it requires long term thinking, additional efforts and costs. Change agents within the executive committee face many obstacles: short term thinking & risk avoidance of their stockholders, non cooperative senior colleagues, workload & long hours, habits…. Without clarity over the purpose of this change, and top leadership commitment to lead by example, transformation efforts fall flat.
2: There is no proof that agility will work in your specific context
Your detractors are saying it clearly: Agility can work for startups/B2C companies… but not for us. Our industry/company is too specific/regulated, and we lack control over too many parameters. As long as there is no successful case to prove that agility can work in your context, no one will be willing to risk taking a different route.
3: The company culture is at odds with agile principles
Culture is the legacy and the “immune system” of the organization. An organization’s informal systems (behaviours and beliefs) determine what is encouraged and what is possible to achieve. As Peter Drucker popularized it, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. The greatest agility strategy falls short if talents are keep behaving in their old ways.
Sometimes, the issue lies in the little awareness about agility. A lot of the time, talents lack agility skills, being trained for years on watrfall, action plans & KPIs. And even if they do develop theoretical knowledge, they have no experience in delivering agile projects, of navigating through unforeseen situations, and of being comfortable with it.
4: Restrictive & not adaptive systems and processes
Even if talents are on board and shifting their habits, they usually bump into ill-suited systems and processes. From finance to HR, systems are implemented to bring stability & predictability, the opposite of what is needed to build proactive and agile organizations.
Change management requires continuous push & progress driven by change agents in the organization. Skipping steps simply creates more issues of cognitive dissonance and demotivation.
A practical guide to making your organization more agile
Read the full article here: Fabernovel- The Secrets behind scaling Agility in an MNC
FABERNOVEL is a global innovation agency committed to empowering companies to create a lasting cultural shift and knowledge base to act upon. We bring the thought leadership of a consultancy, the creativity of an advertising agency and problem solving strength of a technology company. We work tirelessly to bring the benefits of change to corporations, startups, and teams who want to create market impact with digital technology to win.