Agile transformations, often seen as the golden ticket to efficiency and productivity, are increasingly under scrutiny. More often than not, these initiatives lose sight of their purpose in their quest for value creation. The irony? They inadvertently forget to make themselves valuable in the process. This needs to change. After all, agile transformations are epistemological by design.
The promise of value can become a blinding light, leading to a tunnel vision approach to the Transformation regardless of its type, from organisationally sliced Transformations, i.e. A complete Makeover or Capability sliced, i.e. A Cloud Transformation. A myopic focus often results in overlooking the inherent value of the agile transformation process itself. Value creation should be a by-product of agile transformations, not the sole focus. The real value lies in the transformation process and the adaptability it fosters.
A major bias, in my opinion, is rooted in an incomplete understanding of value, where the prevailing idea of value is typically attached to tangible outputs—improved efficiency, reduced costs, faster delivery times etc. This approach, however, dismisses the intangible, yet substantial value that comes with a successful agile transformation. This includes enhanced adaptability, an innovative mindset, and an overall more resilient organization.
Tangible value is easy to quantify, which is why it often becomes the primary focus. However, in the rush to attain tangible outcomes, we overlook the transformation process’s intangible value. This includes factors like organizational learning, enhanced adaptability, and a more resilient culture—elements that, although difficult to measure, are invaluable in the long run.
I have seen a fair few transformations overemphasizing tangible value, which caused rushed transformations, shortcuts, and compromised quality. There’s a danger in succumbing to the allure of quick wins; Middle Management and Delivery love the term “Low Hanging Fruit”.
While this may boost immediate value, they often fail to nurture agile transformations’ more enduring, intangible benefits. In fact, overemphasis on immediate value can even undermine the transformative potential of agile methodologies, creating an “Agile by Name and not by Nature” mindset.
Agile transformations shouldn’t just create value—they should be valuable. The continuous learning and adaptability inherent to these transformations provide strategic advantages in today’s volatile business environment. A company that can pivot in response to market changes is invaluable.
The Way Forward: Epistemological Embrace
It’s not enough to merely understand the epistemological value of agile transformations—we must put this understanding into practice. It’s time for a shift in perspective, evaluating what we consider important. Agile transformations are not just tools; they are pillars of organizational resilience and adaptability. Treating them as mere value-creation instruments is a gross underestimation of their true potential.
Epistemology, the study of knowledge, is at the heart of agile. Understanding the unknown, learning through iterations, and building knowledge incrementally are the building blocks of any agile transformation. It’s a system of knowing and learning that is in constant evolution. This epistemological nature should make agile transformations flexible, responsive, and ultimately valuable.
This epistemological shift in focus is necessary. I would even say critical to any organisation embarking on the path to Business Agility. Away from the narrow pursuit of value and towards a broader appreciation of the transformation process of being valuable. By viewing Agile transformations as a source of value in and of itself, organizations can foster a more dynamic, resilient, and adaptable culture.
The modern business landscape is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. In this environment, agility is not just a competitive advantage—it’s a necessity.
When correctly implemented and understood, Agile transformations offer more than just the promise of value. They embody value in their dynamic nature. By recognizing this, we can start treating agile transformations not as a means to an end but as valuable processes in and of themselves. After all, their epistemological nature is their greatest asset.