Good sprinters are one thing above all: focused. They simply run as fast as they can. Never would they have the idea of changing anything fundamental during the race. But right afterwards, that can change. Together with their trainers, that’s when they analyze stance at the starting blocks, breathing techniques, and how their arms are used. Ideally, they can use insights from this analysis in the next race—and consistently get faster.
Recently, companies have also more frequently been using such sprints to address the organizational component of a transformation that goes well beyond the required technological changes. In short time spans, they develop ideas for a new process, a different concept, or an innovative product. Directly after this, they implement the result—and observe precisely how it works. The insights they gain then serve as the basis for further optimizations in the next sprint.
Not that far back, this was inconceivable. When something needed improvement, companies traditionally chose a linear approach: first extensively analyzing the situation, then developing a concept, fleshing out the details, and finally implementing the overall program. But that did not work as well as expected: a new survey reveals that only a quarter of transformations planned using this approach enabled companies to achieve their objectives; in almost half the cases, the programs were abandoned altogether. Beyond this, today’s pace hardly leaves time for drawn-out linear processes—especially given the rapid changes in the business environment.
This is why more and more companies are relying on agile transformations. So what’s new (beyond the sprints)? Concept development and implementation are interlinked and run in parallel at times. But how does an agile transformation work? Successful companies target transformation using a structured process: setting objectives and specifying the strategy, designing the new business model, developing and implementing solutions, communicating, steering processes, and tracking progress. This article lays the process out in more detail, and looks at how to improve the odds of success.
This article has been translated and reprinted from our German consumer industries journal Akzente.