Anchoring Agility Organizationally

In your company, many teams are now agile. They have also managed to place these teams under an agile coordination and leadership structure, so they have gained initial experience with scaling. However, you can see that agility is still patchy and that there are big differences in agile teams. That's why you need to strengthen the agile leadership style— the Catalyst Leader. You also note that the previous organization should inhibit the growth of agility and be adapted to the new work structure.

Agile teams should think entrepreneurially, be close to their customers and show initiative. They should be allowed to make mistakes and learn, but on the other hand they should achieve the project goals as reliably as possible. And in doing so, the managers should always have a high level of trust in these teams.

This may sound quite simple in theory, but in practice it is very difficult for managers to implement it. The system in which they "became great" measured by other values. Until now, the focus for them has been on the technical solution and the work organisation in their own team or in their own department. These leadership styles are called Expert or Achiever Leadership (Manager).

However, the behaviors that characterize these leadership styles often inhibit agile work immensely, because they not only work very strongly in terms of content, but also have the goal of implementing their own solution. That's why managers from these areas usually focus on exactly what the agile team is supposed to do: find an efficient work organization and implement a good technical solution. An agile team needs a different leader. One that conveys much more meaning and purpose of action, that shapes and communicates visions, and that can shape the environment of agile teams in a way that improves results – an environment manager. This leadership style is called catalyst leader.

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In addition to the personalities of the affected executives, the existing organization is often an obstacle that Catalyst leadership can grow. Because in the existing organization, the four dimensions of leadership are often unclear and therefore influence takes place in places where it does not make sense. For this reason, it may be useful to adapt the structure to the agile process organization.

Adaptation of the organizational structure

The aim of the adjustment is to clearly separate the four different dimensions of leadership. Each dimension then has a responsible leader who perceives it according to the rules of agile work. In addition to product responsibility, which is represented by the product owner, there is also the performance responsibility that the Scrum Master represents.

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In addition, there is the responsibility for technology, which is perceived where needed by appropriate specialists. However, this is done as a coaching in the pull principle. This means that the respective member of an agile team decides where the specialist is involved. The team remains fully responsible for the technical solution at all times.

Since in this way of organizing the disciplines each team focuses exclusively on its own product project, there is a danger that islands will emerge and synergical knowledge and experience will be unused. For this reason, it has proven itself in practice to carry out a cross-team, technological synchronization for special fields in so-called Communities of Practice (COP or guilds). In such COP, one or a few members from the agile teams concerned are organized in order to regularly exchange subject-specific experiences and also to establish rules and standards for the relevant field. For example, these could be the standards for the design or the tools you use to construct. The technical manager is the technology manager.

In addition, each employee has a disciplinary superior who performs his or her role under German (labour) law. However, since he has no or little professional connection to the role of his employees, this role changes considerably compared to the previous direct superior. For an employee interview, which of course still makes sense in the future, this manager must, for example, involve colleagues or managers from the other dimensions of leadership. In this way, the employee always receives a balanced and professionally sound feedback about his achievements and results, as well as about his potential.

The often quoted "nose factor" – how well the manager can do with the employee – does not come into play. This higher objectivity increases the acceptance of feedback and the willingness of the employee to develop further in the interest of the company. It is obvious that the role of HR management is also changing considerably in this structure. In particular, it is necessary to redefine career paths and to adapt remuneration systems.

In this agile transformation, most companies enter unfamiliar territory. There is no model solution for what the organization looks like after the rebuild. A transformation team that gradually moderates and supports the transformation is just as essential as the support of an experienced consultant. More important than the shortest possible conversion time is the goal of taking as many motivated employees as possible along the way. The consultants of CO Improve have a wide repertoire of experience with this phase of a company's aglitization process, helping you strengthen Catalyst leadership and organizational restructuring. The majority of companies that have started or carried out such an agile transformation consider the support of competent agile coaches to be a significant success factor.

Your benefits
  • You create the framework conditions for real agility to grow in your company.
  • Leaders take on a new role and support agility in the best possible way.
  • Barriers to agility by the existing organisation will be removed.
  • A transformation team strengthens the acceptance of the change process and takes all participants with it.