Common Agility Transformation Tracks: Types & Roadmap

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  • 0:04 Tracks in Organizations
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Instructor: Scott Tuning

Scott has been a faculty member in higher education for over 10 years. He holds an MBA in Management, an MA in counseling, and an M.Div. in Academic Biblical Studies.

There's more than one way to be agile. in fact, there are several tracks that lead to business agility. This lesson explores five of the most commonly used tracks, and it outlines a potential roadmap for each track.

Tracks in Organizations

When an organization wants to transform itself, it can choose one of many avenues, or tracks, to get there. Their applicability varies by organization type, so let's look at a few of the more common tracks.

This is a simple roadmap for an agile leadership transformation track.

1. Lean Portfolio Transformation

The lean portfolio track is characterized by agile project management practices. Agile lean portfolio management emphasizes a decentralized decision-making process, project plans that value speedy execution above meticulous detail, and project scheduling that operates on a rolling basis rather than a traditional year-to-year approach. Let's apply this track to a software development scenario so we can see how it can be applied.

Let's imagine that XYZ Solutions makes enterprise sales management applications that track leads, sales, and contracts. Customers are demanding new features, so it's time to upgrade the software. To build a roadmap for a portfolio management track, we can include objectives like:

  • The company will try to get the upgrade out the door and to the customer as quickly as possible while fully anticipating that numerous revisions will be necessary.
  • The company will empower well-constructed teams to make independent decisions so that customer demands can be met quickly.
  • Instead of creating a month-by-month schedule for updating the release, updates are scheduled on a rolling basis. This means customer change requests are processed faster.

2. Teams and Streams (Stable Team Design)

A silo is the arch enemy of agile collaboration. Silos occur when similarly-tasked individuals clump together and hold their knowledge or expertise in isolation rather than freely sharing it. An agile team track places a strong emphasis on using cross-functional teams, meaning people with different roles, to get work done. By nature, this often shifts the focus away from job functions and more toward product-oriented teams.

A fictional retailer is a great application example of agility that uses stable teams. A traditional approach to retailing clothing would be to have divisions based on function, like cashiers, stock clerks, front-end managers, and warehouse staff. They each stay within their functions, meaning that the warehouse employee doesn't care too much what happens to the clothes after they leave the warehouse. Likewise, a cashier doesn't care how or by whom the merchandise is handled - just that he or she can check it out quickly. This is a homogeneous team, with lots of silos.

In contrast, a cross-functional team would likely consist of people from each of these roles who come together to address the customer buying experience from end-to-end, rather than by silo. This agile paradigm helps keep everyone focused on the main goal. A roadmap for a team-based agility transformation includes elements such as how the teams will be selected, the way that they will function, and what a successful outcome really looks like.

3. Leadership Transformation

A leadership transformational track and its associated roadmap are built on the foundation of what could be called ''trickle-down agility.'' The primary idea is that truly agile leaders will transform themselves professionally to such a great degree that those under their supervision will also participate fully in agile business practices. Here's a quick rundown of some of the potential hallmarks of a leadership transformation roadmap:

  • A traditional manager becomes a servant leader (a boss who becomes a resource person).
  • A leader who can successfully transition from leading a homogeneous team to a cross-functional team.
  • Leaders who are held accountable for outcomes rather than just for process.

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