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Agile Week 4: Org Models and Org Structures

An organization’s model is specific and unique to their vision, resources, capabilities, and internal and external variables. Internal variables might include an employee with a particular talent or idea that gives the organization a unique position in the market. External factors might include economic conditions, regulatory changes, or even just luck.

When preparing and implementing a organizational model redesign the following risks & considerations should be taken into account:

  • Change Management Strategy

    • Engaging employees & stakeholders; ensure transparency, communication, and agency

    • Coordinate efforts with change partners

    • Continuously clarify and confirm

    • Embrace opportunities for innovation

  • Resource Management

    • Assess existing resources (money, time, talent,) and identify gaps.

    • Work with stakeholders and sponsors to secure resources where needed.

  • Business Continuity

    • Ensure same or better service/product during change implementation.

    • Communicate with customers and manage expectations

Determine how to measure long and short term success with qualitative and quantitative data. Talent management can be measured using traditional metrics such as turnover/retention and employee satisfaction surveys, but should be supported and supplemented with opportunities for dialogue. Doing so prevents spread of misinformation and generates buy-in from the workforce.

  • Article: Does the changes in organizational structure make sense to you? What are your reactions?

The chance in org structure does make sense, though at times it can appear to be a chicken/egg situation. Is Agile a response to increasing customer demands based in the organizational design research; are customer needs and expectations driving companies to find a new way of working? Or is the speed and innovation of Agile methodology conditioning customers to expect more, faster?

Beyond the four change drivers listed by McKinsey: environment, technology, digitization, and the war for talent, there are a number of other factors that will change the way organizations operate.

Disability Inclusion campaign designed by the author
  • DEI and Changing Perceptions of Identity: Gen Z and Millenials expect organizations to recognize and celebrate every aspect of their identity, such as preferred gender markers, reproductive choices, and disability identity. For example, on the heels of the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic many people developed or are publicly acknowledging disability status. The US Government is struggling to keep up with changing medical findings to identify how employers should evaluate and respond to needs related to Long Covid Syndrome, which can manifest as physical, medical, or cognitive limitations. There are many more people who have have physcholgical trauma related to circumstances of the pandemic. It is increasingly difficult to address these needs at scale from a reactionationary stance. Employers need to adopt a proactive barrier-removal strategy.

  • Volatility in the Global Economy: Interruptions in consumer and manufacturing supply chains, and the threat of looming war in eastern Europe have destabilized the market in unexpected ways. Organizations need to reassess what resources are essential vs tangential to their operating model and rebuild their workforce planning mix (build, buy, borrow, bot) accordingly

  • Generational Priorities and Demand for Flexibility: Current and emerging workers have an increasing expectation of autonomy around work tasks, location, and hours. Highly skilled workers are moving to gig work by listing on marketplaces like Upwork to gain agency and gain (or maintain) work/life balance.

5 Trademarks of Agile Organizations per McKinsey

  1. Strategy

  2. Structure

  3. Process

  4. People

  5. Technology

How People Drive Agility

  • Serve as avatars and liasons for customers

  • Passion and mission-driven to innovate

  • Evolving skill sets and lifelong-learning

  • Deep subject matter expertise

  • Curiosity; comfort with ambiguity

  • Transparency and continuous communication

  • Openness to knowledge sharing

How Technology Drives Agility

  • Continuous connectivity - employees can work where and when is most effective for them

  • Data-driven decision making - the ability to collect and analyze information quickly supports decision-making

  • Data democratization - aids transparency, communication, and informed problem-solving

  • Accessibility - new systems with UX-friendly interfaces empower employees to create better workflows and processes at the local level.

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