Research shows that agile organisations have nearly three times the earning advantage of their competitors (Accenture, 2019).

So, how do you set your organisation up for success, and how do you design an operating model to meet your dynamic strategy?

In this blog, I explain how you can use operating model design to meet the pace of change.

Agile organisations – Fluid teams

In creating an agile organisation, we are seeking to transform operating models from being ‘static and mechanistic to flexible and fast’, (Accenture, 2019), so that the organisation can respond quickly to change and market competition.

To achieve this pace and flexibility, some elements of the organisation need to be fluid. This fluidity enables a shift from rigid hierarchical structures – which can limit the speed of decision making, innovation and change – to a flexible network of teams, or scrums.

These scrums are empowered to make faster decisions and take a test and learn approach, led by data and guided by the overall vision. The scrums and their membership are ever-evolving according to the needs of the business.

Individuals will have a ‘home base’ but may work on multiple projects at any one time and in different scrums, moving between projects as and when required.

This fluid set up typically suits roles that are focused on changing the customer proposition, launching new products, or implementing IT solutions. Despite the fluid nature of the structure, the roles will have well defined, clear accountabilities. 

Where processes and roles are more consistent and structured, such as in some Finance teams, the structure and membership should be more static. They will still, however, need to adapt and learn how to interact with the fluid organisation effectively.

COVID-19 UPDATE: As this blog went live the Government issued initial return to work advice following the Covid-19 lockdown. They recommend keeping team memberships stable. This seems sensible advice and we have no intention of contradicting it here. But if we have learned anything over the last few weeks, it’s that people are more than capable of working very effectively within technology-enabled virtual teams. 

Agile organisation design as an ongoing process

Move away from treating organisation design as a rigid process of ‘unfreeze-change-refreeze’ (CRF, 2018). Organisation design needs to be managed on an ongoing basis, changing in line with the organisations’ evolving strategies.

Organisations no longer have the time to change the whole organisation again and again, shifting power between centralisation and decentralisation and back again.  

We recommend adjusting the operating model on an ongoing, iterative basis to ensure it is always aligned to the equally dynamic organisational strategy. 

These ongoing adaptations may only involve small parts of the organisation. What is essential is that the changes are made where there is a need to align the processes, people, systems and strategy. This approach also means there is less disruption and cost to the overall organisation.

Taking a more fluid approach will help to keep your operating model aligned to your strategy, however quickly it needs to change in the face of competitor moves and other forces outside of your control.

To discuss how Change Associates can help you create an agile organisation, please get in touch.  

Charlotte Gatehouse