What is an Agile Business Strategy Wall?

Maybe the best thing of a Training / Certification is your classmates. Specially in these days where knowledge is accesible on multiple ways.

Once a safe and collaborative space has been stablished, listening their stories, both successful and painful, opens a new perspective as you start wondering if those ideas could stick on your immediate ecosystems.

Business Agility is becoming the buzzword of the moment, even when not many people is clear about it, which might be positive (I honestly hate when some wise-guy says “that’s not agile” as agile itself is dynamic, open and flexible). And again, different visions are drawing different understandings and “implementations” of Business Agility, but 2 clearly stand up from the crowd: the more “loose” approach and the more structured attempt to tackle down the challenge. One is based on an holistic, incremental, step by step cultural change and the other is a big-bang deployment of new structures,  disruption and fast change. And as stated by many down-to-earth colleagues, those 2 ways and all the others that can raise in between are probably valid depending on the challenge, the organization you are talking about, the people that works on that organization, the culture, etc.

That being said, and having in mind that there’s still a lot to be written about Business Agility, I was able to see lately one very interesting example of a tool to take agility up to the highest level of the organization and provide Business Agility’s main offering: fast pivoting of overall business strategy based on quick an valuable consumer feedback.

When you say something like that, you start to wonder: “how the heck can we do that!”. Well, as everything in an agile world, the response comes back to the values and principles. Being able to transparently communicate reality at all levels, keep the focus on what adds value and act accordingly is certainly difficult to do in a “silo-ed” organization since one of their major problems is the lack of clear alignment at the leadership level which is done very poorly at the annual (or sometimes triannual) “VIPs planning retreat”… And if you add that the leadership is probably struggling switching their mindset from the “Command&Control” practices to the “Servant Leadership” way of thinking, everybody is pulling the cords wherever except on what makes sense to the organization as a whole.

In a super simplified vision of it, an ABSWall – Agile Business Strategy Wall (or Enterprise Visibility Room) is a place where all mayor enterprise themes are visible for every leader on the company. But these are no annual themes only: every theme gets fragmented on very down-to-earth themes that can be achievable at least every quarter. This is important in order to be able to measure them up to the expectations they represent at the time they were written and the specific and measurable outcomes and metrics (both organizational / customer or leading) linked to them with their KPIs. Again: this is one way to see this kind of walls, every organization can have its own vision of it.

The beauty of this wall, as any information radiator in agility, is to show a clean, clear, realistic status of the subject, in this case, to assess if the business strategy drawn at a certain point is materializing, needs adaptation or should be forgotten. Let’s remember that before agility, organizational leaders were some class of “pythonesses” which had the “gift” to “predict the future”, the infamous HiPPO (highest paid person’s opinion), but it was all opinion and no facts, as no one can predict future. With the fast pace of product delivery that our digital consumers are getting used, all kind of feedback can be recollected almost instantly and that beats my old fashion “market trends” from a market analysis company, available every year. Beats it, anytime, anywhere.

Once in place, the ABSWall let everyone in the room decide based on “real-real time info about switching or pivoting from one strategic theme to the other, re-prioritizing items, eliminating them, creating new ones as the market provides quick feedback (usually empowered by digital tools). That is Business Agility, right? Now you got it 😉

Looks crazy eh? Looks unfeasible? Not so much. Now that a lot of organizations all size have at least “played” with agility and started to like it, now that the word “agile transformation” is no longer rare to the business community, now that the need for agile is not coming only from the IT side alone, now it can stick and work. But remember all the path that is needed to get there: its not a new trick, its not a mere methodology… its about a mindset swift for the people but specially for the leaders of the organization.

 

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