Agility Is Key to Fast Enough
Whether you call it agile, responsive, or adaptive, your entire organization, from executives to delivery staff, needs to embrace a culture of sensing the marketplace and responding to change in an effective way. Scaling agility is more about changing organizational culture than about building bigger things. A number of agile/lean scaling frameworks focus on planning for and building “bigger” things. Unfortunately, they tend to take on the trappings of traditional heavyweight methodologies, including an over-emphasis on documentation and process. What’s really needed are frameworks that focus on “better,” not “bigger.” Scaling agility (as in undertaking large projects) may be a problem, but it’s just not as important as the challenges of learning and adapting fast enough. Implementing a digital strategy, or becoming a digital enterprise, must be driven by innovation—in products, in strategy, in technology, in portfolio management, in measures of success, in organization, and more. Transforming to a digital enterprise needs to focus first and foremost on devising better ways of aligning strategy and delivery. Once you are better, then you can focus on bigger. Most (but not all) innovation initiatives aren’t huge undertakings, but rather uncertain undertakings.
The authors have been evolving EDGE in our work at ThoughtWorks over a decade. The authors have worked with clients in the telecommunications, financial services, insurance, and retail industries—sectors facing significant disruption in today’s Digital Age.