"Sounds interesting, but it's not feasible for us."
Of course, agile is a fascinating concept that can go beyond the team level. After all, the results speak for themselves. And, sure, I see the potential of open, flat organizational structures. And yes, formal power and its misuse are frustrating problems. But things are different in corporations, it's a whole other world. A corporation doesn't work in the same ways as a company with 150 employees. None of that will work here.
This could be an excerpt from a typical conversation between people from modern, agile organizations and representatives of classic, traditionally run corporations.
Interesting, but not feasible for us. Our way still works, even though it can be tedious and frustrating at times. And of course, we can only work properly backstage, while we have to play along with all the business-world theatrics out front.
But is that really true? Are corporations unchanging monoliths that we just have to accept as they are? Or is that just an excuse?
Dynamic change spares no-one
We can see from the business world that nothing is constant in the free market economy. New markets open up, others cave in overnight. In many industries, the leading companies didn't even exist just a few years ago.
Of course, some corporations vanish into thin air too. However, only a few of them do so in a way that makes the press. For example, when politicians or unionists demand socially acceptable solutions for 10,000 employees when XZY PLC goes bankrupt.
In such organizations, they also thought that they would simply go on functioning, but the complex reality still caught up with them.
Understanding why companies need to change
Change requires energy, uses up resources, leads to conflicts, and is exhausting. Above all, internal change doesn't generate any added value at the beginning. For this reason, change shouldn't be an end in itself, and it shouldn't be pushed for its own sake.
But we certainly aren't talking about an end in itself here. After all, two visitors continue to knock at the door of any organization, getting louder and more demanding: the complexity and dynamics of the market. Enterprises, in particular, are required to think about how they are going to arm themselves for the complex challenges of the present and the future. They need to consider how they can learn to make faster decisions, and how they can position themselves to be as robust to the dynamics of the business world as possible.
And this can be done: There are large corporations that have been changing their organizational methods and formal power structures, successfully adapting to scaled agile concepts, and actively working toward cultural modernization for some time now. Our annual Tools4AgileTeams conference offers impressive examples of such transitions each year.
Five to 50 things that employees can do with an agile organization
I am convinced that employees and teams in corporations have more possibilities to incite change than they think. There are certainly enough suggestions out there.
My colleagues and I collected lots of these suggestions for a presentation. Many of them are based on our own experiences and (in my opinion) make for good illustrative material. Sure, there will be some ideas that won't make sense for every single organization out there. But I believe that it's worth thinking about and perhaps experimenting with some of them.
I filmed a test run of the presentation, where I think about why restructuring is essential for companies, how a modern robust organization can be structured, what can change for employees in an agile organization, and what employees can actively change themselves.
If you are interested in agile methods, self-organization, leadership, and modern enterprises, I invite you to go through these ideas with me. Here is a recording of the session.
Tools4AgileTeams Conference 2019 focussing on "Tools & Leadership"
On November 21 and 22, 2019 the eighth edition of our Tool4AgileTeams Conference will take place in Wiesbaden. This year we'll focus on the theme of "Tools and Leadership." If you found this article and the presentation interesting, this agile conference could be just the thing for you! Early-bird tickets are still available. All of the information you need can be found on the Tools4AgileTeams website.
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