Achieving Business Agility – Part 3 of a Three-part Series

Part 3: Merge Missions

When your challenge is to demonstrate how business can benefit from a new operating model to address a company problem, the first step in the move toward this change is a merging of missions.

Although executives may be open to change, they don’t necessarily know how. To achieve business agility, the business needs a strategic conversation on a new improved operating model- a conversation that makes it apparent that a shift will benefit them. It’s time to shine the light on the better way of working. The key to success is to pilot the new way of working by “shining the light” on its value.

In an operating model pilot, you’re putting the customer is at the center. Instead of focusing on the old way of department success, the new focus is on customer success. This move is a shift away from conducting activities that put the company on the back of the customer to activities that put the customer on the back of the company. What this means is the company’s purpose is to provide a base for holding up the customer and to provide value. As a result of this change in thinking to a customer-centered operating model, all of the relevant executives can merge their missions to align in the following ways:

1. Delivery becomes the source of creating value by developing products that customers will use because they’re designed with their needs in mind and launched before competitors.

2. Finance becomes a source of generating profit by making smarter funding decisions that keep up with fast-changing customer desires and opening the door for the business to set higher price points.

3. Marketing becomes the source of more effective messaging to customers that are more likely to buy.

4. Channels become the source of solution improvement ideas acting as a virtual feedback loop and antenna for customer and the market.

Establishing a Pilot

Once you identify the executives that are on board with the benefits of a customer-centered operating model, it’s important to assemble a like-minded coalition and establish a pilot. These business agility pilots put real concepts to work on real products, and generate actual benefit for the customer. Business Agility pilots are an important step in the journey to becoming a responsive, pivot-ready organization.

The purpose of a pilot is to prove the benefits in your presentation by showing the results in a live demonstration in a short time frame (for example, two months). For the most impact, select a real program that leads to real, deployed solution and generates real customer value that can be seen. You will showcase agile ways of working to become visible and tangible in a live demo upon this pilot window. When you show how it looks to deliver customer value quickly in a live demonstration, they will see the light.

Results from Business Agility Pilots

Better communication among customer-facing pillars: delivery, finance, marketing, and channels. Agile planning and delivery cycles make it easier to communicate what will be delivered, update on real progress, and share feedback from customers.

Better alignment among all pillars: When delivery becomes something everyone can count on, then the four departments can have more productive conversations about what the right work is and how to support that work.

A framework to enable organizational pivots: A customer-centered operating model enables delivery to deliver products in a different way—features are delivered whole without a long tail of unfinished but required work. A well-designed pilot helps everyone see how the business could pivot painlessly after a release.

Delivering customer value. Most people in the company won’t expect customers to be delighted with the smaller scope of a customer-centered operating model release, but usually customers respond enthusiastically to getting even a little of what they want in so little time.

Bill WaltonComment