Agile Enterprise and Transformation Models – My 2019 Forecast

Last year, I published three theses to kick off 2018. In it were the predictions

  1. Agile management and agile leadership are becoming the buzzword of the year.
  2. The question of how to make an Agile transformation sustainably successful is becoming more important.
  3. We need more reflection and fewer methods

Quite a lot has happened in all three areas. Agile leadership is taking an increasingly prominent place in our portfolio and, as far as I can see, in the public debate. With Agile Transformation, this seems even clearer to us. Our customers boil it down to this: we don’t want resources from you, we want a concept.

When it comes to the question of “fewer methods”, the picture looks more differentiated to me: on the one hand, the demand for SAFe, for example, is steadily increasing. The desire for a model also manifests itself in the increasingly widespread use of the Spotify vocabulary. It is not always clear whether this is simply a renaming of existing structures or whether a structural and cultural change is really involved. On the other hand, there is a lot going on that points to a greater emphasis on the conceptual view and a deeper insight into interrelationships.

Time to turn to the new trends:

1. agilization of the entire company comes to the fore. On the one hand, this represents a trend from operational and tactical changes to increasingly strategic role of agility. If we remember: from agile software development to product development, the (increasingly well understood) differentiation of output and outcome, to the emergence of the discussion about an agile organization. Agile leadership remains important in this context, but it becomes one element of an overall picture in which views of deliverability, innovation, and culture all play independent roles. The buzzwords of 2019 will revolve around global optimum, flow/value stream instead of silos, and innovation.

2. we will see some transformation models that will fuel more competition to design agile transformations. There is now enough experience with transformation to allow generalizations without falling into the trap of a simplistic blueprint. We ourselves are in the process with Agile Evolution and I will be presenting some of these models in the near future.

3. large companies will play a stronger public role in shaping. This is a continuation of the 2018 trend (“more reflection, less methods”), but it’s no longer just about reflection. Rather, the serious and profound integration of agile concepts into the structures of organizations is the order of the day. For me, this manifests itself in the shift of abstract models to an operational level on a broad front – here are some examples:

  • OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) as a collaborative form of goal setting in organizations, which can also act as a catalyst for operationalizing the mindset and providing adequate leadership for knowledge workers
  • Competence models for a lean-agile organization, with which a stable anchoring of the corresponding structures is driven.
  • New capabilities for rapid adaptation – we distinguish between competencies of individuals and capabilities as a capacity of organizations – which also make the topic of “business agility” tangible and designable
  • Develop and integrate strategic approaches such as Beyond Budgeting, Agile Governance, and Wardley Mapping into the intensive use of agile thinking in everyday business.

These developments are part of a global trend: agility is more and more seen as a toolkit among others, I define agility as the tools that enable faster adaptation to new requirements. If we think about this further, then agilization becomes more and more an aspect of organizational development.

On Key

The VSM Quick Guide: the model

The introduction to the series on Jon Walker’s VSM quick guide. It describes the simplified VSM vocabulary as used in the rest of the steps.