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Agile transformation eats strategy for breakfast

This article was first published in Finansavisen

Rapid changes and digitalisation make it difficult for top Norwegian executives to predict client demands in five years, Ali Rana in PA Consulting writes.

Agile transformation may just be the hottest topic among top executives these days. The expression, which many associate with the software industry in the early 2000s, describes a flexible process with fast delivery of products and services, and continuous testing and development after launch.

However, what used to be a concept for how to work with change in the IT-industry, is now increasingly being used as an example of how larger companies should lead their digital transformation. Digitalisation and innovation are here to stay. They’re not one-off, time-constrained projects. The transformation needs to happen daily. And even if agile is not a new term, the processes being initiated by several organizations these days aim to make the entire organisation agile in all aspects. This is new, and this will be what separates the winners from the losers in the market place. In the future, the ability to deliver and move quickly will be the most important competitive advantages.

PA Consulting interviewed 500 top executives last year regarding their thoughts on digitalisation and innovation. Half said the future is less bright than the past. And many top executives find their industry or company being challenged by new technology. To overcome this challenge, the company needs to be fast and agile.

Management teams need to divert fromthe traditional siloed way of thinking that often characterises project management of digitalisation and innovation. And they must do this daily. It is a part of natural and continuous business development. Projects are time-framed, whilst digitalisation and innovation cannot be – it will happen continuously based on constant changes in customer and user needs.

In a world like this, a transformation to become an agile organisation is part of the solution. This way of working and thinking needs to be so thoroughly integrated in the organisation that it becomes its DNA. It is not enough to have a few agile teams here and there, that work on whatever is in the wind at that time. The entire organisation needs to go through a radical change for the strategic speed to increase.

Norwegian businesses and the public sector have increasingly adapted to the agile way of working over the recent years. NAV’s implementation of the nationwide digital sick leave service is one example. Normally, it would have taken NAV a long time to digitalise this service, but through an agile approach the solution became available in just a few months. NAV did this by putting us, inhabitants of Norway, in the centre of their service development. They got users involved frequently and put together a cross-functional team, with IT and sick leave experts, all in one room. Other examples are and RiksTV, which both truly exploit the opportunities of an agile approach on an organisational level.

With this approach, companies and organisations have gotten a tangible framework for innovation and rapid transformation. If more top executives do not begin this transformation today, I am concerned that we will observe several known Norwegian brands being forced to shut down – simply because they are large and heavy and therefore not able to turn on their feet according to our needs as consumers. Needs and demands change faster, now than ever before.

Can old dogs learn ingenious new tricks?

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Sam Bunting

Sam Bunting

Stephen Hughes

Stephen Hughes

Conrad Thompson

Conrad Thompson


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