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Unlocking Agility: An Insider's Guide to Agile Enterprise Transformation

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Unlocking Agility: An Insider's Guide to Agile Enterprise Transformation

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  • An engaging insider’s perspective from a practitioner who’s repeatedly helped lead successful organizational change at the enterprise level
  • Includes many real-life stories and anecdotes from Intel, Salesforce, Walmart, Groupon, Spotify, John Deere, Nokia, Fidelity, McAfee, and other top companies
  • Answers crucial questions, including: where to start, how to sustain momentum, when to use external consultants (and when not to), and how to lead coherent change worldwide
  • An invaluable resource for wide audiences of executives, managers, change agents, and consultants


  • Copyright 2019
  • Dimensions: 7" x 9-1/8"
  • Pages: 368
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-454284-3
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-454284-3

Today’s enterprises see smaller, more nimble competitors devouring their businesses and obsoleting their markets at an ever-accelerating pace. “Sustainable” competitive advantages continue to shrink and disappear, as the average age of Fortune® 500 companies keeps declining. Smart executives know they must move from plan-driven, fixed-scope thinking to a discovery-driven approach characterized by learning, continuous improvement, and value delivery. They know they must learn how to capitalize on uncertainty, since it’s now utterly impossible to prevent it. Yet, very few large enterprises have truly succeeded in this agile transformation. Unlocking Agility: An Insider’s Guide to Agile Enterprise Transformation focuses on overcoming the real challenges that stand in their way.

Author Jorgen Hesselberg has spent 15+ years leading successful enterprise transformation initiatives: this book brings together all he’s learned about what works (and what doesn’t). Hesselberg answers crucial questions like:

  • What’s the best way to start organizational change in large organizations?
  • How can you sustain momentum beyond the initial “honeymoon”?
  • How do you create an environment of continuous learning, employee empowerment, and product discovery -- while still executing superbly in day-to-day customer commitments?
  • What’s the best role for external consultants and consulting firms?
  • How do you lead coherent organizational change across multiple geographies, locations, and cultures?
  • What organizational structures are likeliest to unlock lasting change, and how should these evolve over time?
  • What type of organizational impact is realistic to expect?
  • How can you measure success?

Replete with first-hand accounts from transformation leaders at companies including Cisco, HP, Spotify, Yahoo!, John Deere, Salesforce and Wal-Mart, the book provides indispensable practical insights for everyone seeking to build a truly agile enterprise.

Sample Content

Online Sample Chapter

Agile Organizational Structure

Table of Contents

Forewords by Bjarte Bogsnes and Rich Sheridan     xix
Preface     xxv
Acknowledgments     xxxi
About the Author     xxxiii

Chapter 1  The Agile Imperative     3

Athens Beats Microsoft     4
Origins of Modern Management     6
    Scientific Management: Building More Efficient Machines     7
    The Rise of the Knowledge Worker: Unlocking the Creative Potential     8
    Software Eats the World: Embracing Uncertainty and Becoming Agile     10
    VUCA and Cynefin: Orienting Businesses in a Brave New World     16
    The Cynefin Framework     18
Leadership in a Complex World     21
Business Agility: Accelerating Organizational Learning     22
Summary     24
Q&A     24
Further Resources     26
Footnotes     27
Chapter 2  Enterprise Agility     29
Defining Enterprise Agility     29
Designing Business Agility: Balancing Three Critical Levers     32
    Building the Right Thing (Value)     33
    Building the Thing Right (Quality)     40
    Building at the Right Speed (Optimizing for Flow)     43
Unlocking Agility in the Enterprise     50
Performance Multipliers: Five Critical Dimensions of Agility     51
Summary     53
Q&A     54
Further Resources     56
Footnotes     57

Chapter 3  Technology     61

Building the Right Thing: Creating Products Customers Love     62
    Business Model Canvas: An Interactive Tool for Instant Alignment     62
    Lean Startup: A Method for Validating That You’re Building a Product Worth Building     65
    Cost of Delay: Understanding the Impact of Time to Life Cycle Profits     68
Building the Thing Right     74
    Scrum: Building Value Incrementally and Iteratively     74
    Kanban: Taming Chaotic Environments Through Visualization     79
Building at the Right Speed: Optimizing for Flow     81
    XP     82
    Value Stream Mapping     86
Summary     89
Q&A     90
Further Resources     93
Footnotes     95
Chapter 4  Organizational Design     97
Physical Workplace Design     97
    Designing for Great Teams     98
    The Science Behind High-Performing Teams     99
    Case Study: More Effective Collaboration Spaces at NAVTEQ     100
Organizational Structure     107
    Functional Structure     108
    Divisional Structure     110
    Matrix Structure     111
    Emergent Organizational Structures: Sociocracy and Holacracy     113
    An Agile Organizational Structure?     116
Heuristics of Agile Organizational Designs     120
Summary     121
Q&A     122
Further Resources     124
Footnotes     125
Chapter 5  People     127
Never Underestimate the Importance of People     130
Characteristics of People in Agile Organizations     132
    Fostering a Growth Mind-Set     132
    Developing an Enterprise Growth Mind-Set     134
    Embracing Diversity     135
Strategies for Building an Environment Supportive of Agile People     137
Implications for HR in an Agile Organization     138
    Partner with Teams to Improve Recruiting     138
    Design Meaningful Compensation, Rewards, and Recognition Plans     140
    Create More Relevant Roles and Define a More Flexible Career Path     141
    Empower People by Moving Authority Closer to the Team     142
    HR: From Controlling Function to Unlocking Enterprise Agility     143
Summary     144
Q&A     144
Further Resources     146
Footnotes     147
Chapter 6  Leadership     149
Impact of Leadership     150
    Level     5 Leadership     152
    Level     5 Leadership = Agile Leadership?     153
Teal Leadership     154
    Red: Lead Through Force     156
    Amber: Lead Through Fiat     157
    Orange: Lead Through Efficiency     157
    Green: Lead Through Responsibility     158
    The Organization: An Organic Ecosystem of Interrelated Parts     158
    Teal: The Organization as a Living Entity     159
    The Teal Organization: A Blueprint for the Organization of the Future?     160
Beyond Budgeting: An Agile Management Model     161
    Origins of Beyond Budgeting     162
    Beyond Budgeting: Less Top-Down Control, More Trust and Empowerment     162
The Death of the Traditional CEO?     165
Three Essential Themes of Agile Leadership     167
Summary     168
Q&A     169
Further Resources     171
Footnotes     172
Chapter 7  Culture     173
The Profound Impact of Culture     175
How We Experience Culture     176
The Schneider Culture Model     177
    Collaboration—“We Succeed by Working Together”     178
    Control—“We Succeed by Getting and Keeping Control”     179
    Competence—“We Succeed by Being the Best”     181
    Cultivation—“We Succeed by Growing People Who Fulfill Our Vision”     182
Culture’s Impact to Sustaining Change     183
    Changing Organizational Culture     185
Characteristics of Business Agility Metrics     191
    Actionable     191
    Accessible     191
    Auditable     192
    Additional Heuristics     192
Examples of Meaningful Business Agility Metrics     194
    Metrics That Help Support Building the Right Thing     195
    Metrics That Help Support Building the Thing Right     197
    Metrics That Help Support Building at the Right Speed (Flow)     199
Performance System Changes -> Behavior Changes -> Culture
Changes     202
Summary     202
Q&A     203
Further Resources     205
Footnotes     206

Chapter 8  Building Your Organization’s Agile Working Group     211

The AWG: Mission and Purpose     211
Characteristics of the AWG     216
    Complementary     216
    Dedicated     217
    Knowledgeable     218
    Credible     219
    Humble     219
    Champion     220
Role of External Consultants     221
Organizational Structure and the AWG     222
    Whole System View     222
    Temporary Lifespan     223
    Dual-Boot Operating System     224
Recruiting for the AWG     225
    Resistance from Managers     225
    Hesitation from Potential Candidates     226
The AWG: What’s in It for You?     228
Summary     228
Q&A     229
Further Resources     230
Footnotes     231
Chapter 9  An Operating Model for Business Agility     233
Unlocking Agility: Embrace Change, Execute with Purpose     235
Exploration: An Engine for Embracing Change     237
    1. Establish Partnerships with External Innovation Hubs     241
    2. Take Ownership Interest in Potential Disruptors     242
    3. Acquire Disruptive Competitors—and Let Their Culture and People Flourish     243
    4. Create an Internal Culture of Disruptive Innovation     244
Exploitation: Executing Proven Strategies with Purpose     246
    Lost in Translation: How Product Strategy Turns from Vision to Hallucination     247
    Executing with Purpose Through Progressive Refinement     249
    Executing with Purpose Through Fast Organizational Feedback Loops     263
Creating a Balance: Embracing Change and Executing with Purpose in the Right Proportions     266
On Scaling Frameworks     267
    Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)     267
    Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS)     267
    Disciplined Agile Framework     268
    Benefits of Scaling Frameworks     268
    Drawbacks of Leveraging Scaling Frameworks     269
Summary     270
Q&A     271
Further Resources     273
Footnotes     274
Chapter 10  Unlocking Agility: A Strategic Roadmap     277
Unlocking Enterprise Agility: A High-Level Strategic Roadmap     278
    Partnered Transition (Wave     1)     279
    Self-Guided (Wave     2)     280
    Innate (Wave     3)     281
What Agility Looks Like in Action: Applying the Five Dimensions of Organizational Agility     283
    Technology     284
    Organizational Design     285
    People     285
    Leadership     287
    Culture     288
Identifying and Driving Change Through an Organizational Improvement Backlog     289
    Unlocking Agility in an Agile Manner     289
    Step 1: Define and Communicate a Clear Purpose for the Transformation     290
    Step 2: Identify Key Impediments Preventing Us from Reaching the Goal     290
    Step 3: Build and Execute the Transformation Backlog     294
    Step 4: Maintain Momentum: Continuously Monitor Progress, Communicate Results, Seek Feedback, and Celebrate Failures     300
    Top 10 Items Leading to Transformation Failure     303
    Seven Signs You’re on Your Way to Unlocking Agility     308
The Road Ahead: Now What?     311
Summary     312
Q&A     313
Further Resources     314
Footnotes     315
Index     317



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