Both approaches have their pros and cons, both can end up with successful transformation as well as horrendous failure. So, is there a way to increase the chances of real change that can help achieving business goals and creating better value for the customer? The answer is as usual: it depends.
As it all starts with people, it is the people who need to understand the purpose and values of agility. The more people do, the more they get it, the more those two approaches presented above become a mix. It means that:
- Teams self-organize and work autonomously,
- Teams learn continuously and share their experience,
- Small mistakes and failures are perceived as lessons and management supports such an approach,
- Teams study customers’ needs and feedback and adapt accordingly,
- Management actively joins the change.
Salam Khan calls such a change a 360 degrees change, as it takes place throughout all organizational levels. An interesting example of such a process was the transformation of ING Bank. They understood the importance of the right mindset and right people at the right time in the right place. Therefore, they decided to make a huge, innovative (and risky!) step – they “fired” everyone in the company and started a massive re-recruitment phase, which resulted in employing only people with proper mindset, increasing the probability of a successful change.
Another change I personally took part in at the beginning of my career was a huge transformation of PZU – biggest Polish insurer. In the 90s and 2000s it lacked good reputation – poor customer service, long-lasting procedures and old-fashioned organizational structure (made probably of concrete). Under new CEO (Andrzej Klesyk, who was in office from 2007 to 2015) a revolution started. It was visible during the Everest project (change of core systems, about 400 people at the same time for 3 years). Not all teams had the same agile mindset, but change was slowly beginning to take over – I was lucky enough to work in a team with people from 3 different companies focused on a common goal. It was impressive to see that moving towards agility was pushed both from the top as well as the bottom. As a result, the company remained No. 1 in Poland, strengthened its position on the domestic market and expanded its business to other countries.