To lead an agile transformation successfully, it’s time leaders took a new approach!

Posted on: 06/11/2018

Leading an agile transformation successfully

Leading an agile transformation successfully

To survive and thrive in today’s market, many businesses are undertaking the fundamental shift from a traditional business model, to an agile model specifically designed for today’s fast-moving, digital economy.

This shift brings a new form of business that enables innovation, collaboration, and value creation at unprecedented speed, scale and impact.

I have recently read a report from Mckinsey  & Company titled ‘Leading agile transformation: The new capabilities leaders need to build 21st-century Organisations you can click here to view the original article.

It talks about how, to form and lead an agile transformation successfully, leaders need a new approach.

The mind-sets and skills leaders have, which has been carefully honed across the years, are no longer as necessary to lead a modern business. By evolving and revolutionising their leadership qualities, executives can transform their businesses into agile enterprises, engineered for the digital economy.


The emergence of agile businesses 

Why has this become such an important topic for senior leaders?

Rapid technological and social change means an increasing number of sectors are approaching a tipping point – companies must become agile to compete and survive.

The pace of these changes is outstripping the ability of our existing private, public, and social institutions to keep up.  More and more companies are becoming overwhelmed with the increasing need to enhance customer-centricity, speed, growth, efficiency, and employee engagement.


Mind-sets and practices needed to lead an agile transformation successfully

Leaders wishing to transform their organisations must begin by transforming themselves, starting with their mind-sets:

  • Shifting from reactive to creative mind-sets.
  • From certainty to discovery: Fostering innovation.
  • From authority to partnership: Fostering collaboration.
  • From scarcity to abundance: Fostering value creation.


How you can bring a distinctively agile approach to the team?

After shifting to new mind-sets and behaviors, the second major focus for leaders is learning how to help their teams apply new agile ways of working. Teams are the core unit of agile businesses, so it is important leaders support them with implementation:

  • Build open, diverse, and empowered teams.
  • Support working in rapid cycles; focused, short bursts of work, with frequent reflection time.
  • Encourage your teams to focus on your customers and understand their needs deeply.
  • Explore opportunities to explore design thinking and business-model innovation.


Capabilities you need to enable agility throughout the business:

After shifting individual mind-sets and behaviors and applying agile ways of working at a team level, the third action for senior leaders should be transforming the organisation:

  • Co-creating an organisational purpose with participation across the business, then broadcast it at every opportunity.
  • Exploring a holistic new agile design for your business, creating it as a network of empowered microbusinesses supported by a lean backbone, working in high collaboration with external partners.
  • Shaping a new agile culture within your business.
  • Engaging people across the business in co-creating the new agile organisational design and culture through constant experimentation and learning.


How can your business build these capabilities among leaders at every level, starting with senior leaders?

We have looked at the emergence of agile businesses and explored the three sets of leadership qualities needed to create a successful agile business. But how do you go about developing these capabilities among the leaders in your organisation and is there an agile way to do so?

Here are the main areas to focus on:

  • Engage or develop a cadre of enterprise-agility coaches supported by a leadership-transformation team.
  • Design a tailored journey for the top team to follow.
  • Create an immersive learning experience for all senior leaders across the enterprise.
  • Apply the learning to all agile-transformation experiments and initiatives.
  • Frame and roll out the leadership initiative in 90-day cycles.


To discuss further, you can email me on


You can view more about Danny Moore our head of client engagement here and the rest of the refind team here.