Enterprise Change Management: the key building block of Enterprise Agility

Posted by Audra Proctor


In our first blog in this series we looked at the origins of Agile and consider at an outline level what it means for your approach - and developing more change agility.

In this second part of our ongoing series we want to focus more on the connection between agile and change management in practice. And specifically what Agile means at an organizational level, Including why a strategic focus on developing Enterprise Agility means that you really need an Enterprise Change Management capability to help you deliver on your promises.

Enterprise Agility is the new holy grail

Based on our own research it clear that a significant number of organizations are focused on developing Agility across their businesses. In a period where the level of technological, competitive and external disruption is at an unprecedented high this is a truly major undertaking for any organization. However the benefits of success are substantial – and may even shape the success or failure of many businesses in the short to medium term.

So why the focus on Agility at an Enterprise level? Put quite simply, as demands from customers and competitive pressures increase, Agile enterprises are far more nimble than their counterparts. Because they have the ability to innovate quicker, be more productive and keep costs down. As McKinsey have suggested– transforming your ways of working to be more Agile could be the last re-organization you need for a very long time in your business.

So how do you get Enterprise Agility right? And what is the role for Enterprise Level Change Management - and an agile change management framework in supporting this ground-shift in approach?

We believe there are 6 key considerations as follows:

  1. Putting in place the “hard stuff” is not enough

Our work with clients tells us that it’s not enough for executives to set out big digital technology and transformation goals, and only to make sure the “hard stuff” around business transformation (i.e, technology purchase, processes redesign and project portfolio) is in place to facilitate Agility.

The solutions that come together to create Enterprise Agility still need to be implemented to extract their value and at the heart of this implementation lies people. So in actual fact - the iterative, pacy nature of Agile solution development requires more (and not less) implementation focus. 

  1. Enterprise Agility is everyone’s business

The work of implementing Enterprise Agility is broader than the solutions and plans of technology and project team. 

This level of Agility is everyone’s business, requiring C-suite’s focus on developing enterprise-wide capabilities to tackle this challenge. We will revisit this topic in our a future blog.

  1. The evolving role of HR in delivering change at an enterprise level

With the trend towards an Enterprise Agile approach the role of HR is changing too. Typically the custodian of Change Management capability – and operating a model where expertise, resources and planning is held at the center of the organization - the drive to Enterprise Agility is challenging HR to create a more supportive model  - again a more agile approach to change management - that is based more around:

  • Focusing on providing skills and resources so people can help themselves, rather than doing it for them. Enabling people in the organization to act quickly, and ensuring processes and systems enable the HR team to also move faster. Hiring, training, communications and performance need to be done at a pace to match the new organizational model.
  • Removing location barriers. Supporting collaboration by removing barriers across functions and geographies allowing the organization to solve a problem or approach a new opportunity collaboratively.
  • Using relevant, comparable people data. For greater transparency, open discussions intelligent risk taking and data-driven decision making.
  • Coaching leaders to build a cascade of accountability . Through the middle and front-line management spine. Enterprise Agility requires that all areas of leadership are in sync and enabling empowerment from the center out to local leaders to allow the organization to act rapidly in a time of unprecedented change.
  1. Some of the biggest challenges are the cultural ones

Organizational culture continues to eat the value of business transformation for lunch.  Considering some of the factors critical to mitigating culture risks, we feel confident in declaring that  agile projects require an agile culture to succeed.

Diginomica echo this succinctly when they talk about five digital culture characteristics that every business needs to drive Agility through digital transformation – e.g. capabilities which are collaborative and non-siloed, agile and responsive, open and transparent, risk-taking and innovative. 

All of this requires people to alter the way they behave to adopt new working practices, and the role modelling for this starts at the top, with a consistent cascade through middle and front-line managers.  

  1. Comprehensive Change Management skills and capabilities are key success factors

Agile transformations are more likely to succeed with comprehensive change management skills and capabilities available in all places where an Agile-friendly mindset needs to be developed. 

To effectively build enterprise wide change capabilities:

  • Key skills and tools need to be more widely available
  • Learning and support needs to be easy to scale to suit the needs of people with different roles in the change process
  • Accessibility needs to be just-in-time / on-demand so that people can respond quickly and play their part in delivering the changes needed in their business units

Capability building needs to be repeatable if you are going to be able to respond to the different and emerging changes needed to create Enterprise Agility. So what you are looking for is an Agile change management framework.  

Managed, pragmatic capability building along levels of maturity is key to success.  It’s about quickly understanding an organizations starting point - as shown in the maturity diagram below - and having a plan to deliver the up-skilling and supporting infrastructure needed to get to a change management maturity level that is sustainable.  

Levels of Change Maturity

Change Management Maturity Model-1-800x291

Source: Changefirst

  1. Build or buy decision?

For organizations looking to put in place the Enterprise Level Change Management capabilities to support all of this, there is a build or buy consideration at play. You know you need to take a more agile approach to change management but the simple question is, “Do you have the time or resources to build all (or even part of) requirements outlined in points 1-5?”

At Changefirst we have created a real buy option that is content-rich, based on an agile change management methodology found on over two decades of research and application. It is highly scalable, configurable and leverages digital technology to make it highly cost effective.

And.an Agile Change Management Solution to enable Enterprise Agility can deliver really considerable benefits - as our client work shows.

  • An agrobusiness client - blend of F2F skills transfer and digital access to resources driving capability building costs down by 40% over a 3-year period 
  • A pharmaceuticals client – moving from a traditional workshop-based model to an online one of rapid on-demand learning cut annual Change Management training spend by 87% 

These are just two of a wide range of examples of change management in an agile environment and we would be happy to tell you more. 


Do you need to build your Enterprise Change Management capability?


Then contact us for an informal, no-obligation discussion, 

On how we can apply our globally recognized PCI ® (People Centred Implementation) methodology, digital tools and role-based learning to quickly have an impact on your organization.    

Simply contact us and one of our Change experts will be in touch to schedule a discussion. 



Tags: agile development, Agile project management, agile leaders, agile organizations, agile change, agile change managment

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