3 tips for creating impactful agile transformation goals

Learn how Alex Badenoch drives successful change initiatives with measurable objectives

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By Nicole Schreiber-Shearer, Future of Work Specialist at Gloat

When it comes to transformation, there’s a serious gap between potential and reality. Companies that view their change initiatives as successful report achieving 67% of their maximum financial benefits—and amongst other organizations, this figure drops to just 37%.

Now that 80% of companies are kicking their transformations into overdrive, it’s up to leaders to architect strategies that get tangible results. That means executives must go beyond making gradual changes and instead embrace agile operating models that have the potential to transform every element of their business processes.

Since driving change at enterprise-scale is challenging, we spoke with Alex Badenoch—who spearheaded Telstra’s transformation—to learn her best practices for devising impactful agile strategies. She pointed to goal-setting as an imperative first step for any transformation journey and shared some tips for creating objectives that your entire organization will get behind.

What is agile transformation?

Born out of a software development methodology, transitioning to agile ways of working now extends far beyond your product team. For companies to be considered agile, all employees must embrace a willingness to be more flexible and reactive, collaborate effectively, and communicate openly.

Agile transformation describes the journey teams or organizations go on as they shift to their ways of working from rigid hierarchies to flattened,cross-functional talent networks. According to McKinsey, a comprehensive agile transformation will reach four facets of the organization: people, processes, technology, and structure. It will also ensure that the company adopts an iterative approach to development, meaning activities are repeated in cycles until the optimal result is achieved.

Why goal-setting is an important part of every agile transformation

There’s a common misconception that embracing agile operating models means stepping away from order and structure. While it’s true that agile organizations aren’t bound by hierarchies the way some other companies are, that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be rules or guidelines associated with a company’s transition to agile operating models.

In fact, our resident agile transformation expert Alex Badenoch believes that it’s important to have a sense of structure when embarking on this type of change initiative. “I think a lot of people think that agile transformation is sort of loose. But it needs to be more disciplined, more structured, and more thoughtful than most of us have ever done before,” she explains.

In order to maintain momentum during your change initiative and ensure people are striving towards the same goals, Badenoch recommends creating a handful of objectives to guide your transformation journey. These goals can help employees get a clear vision of the direction their organization is heading towards and encourage leaders to take ownership of various initiatives to turn these aspirations into realities.

What does impactful goal-setting look like in practice?

If you’re searching for some inspiration as you brainstorm your agile transformation goals, look no further than the sample objectives below which Badenoch shared with us from her time at Telstra. You’ll see that these goals impact various aspects of the business, from upping efficiency to enhancing customer satisfaction to boosting morale.

While each of the four goals below is very different, they are structured in a similar manner. Each objective is accompanied by a relevant business metric such as net promoter scores for customer satisfaction. By identifying specific numbers that will indicate achievement for various goals, Telstra’s workforce could align on a shared vision of success and begin tracking their performance towards these metrics over time.

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3 top tips for creating your own agile transformation goals

While outlining goals for your agile transformation is always a step in the right direction, there are a few best practices leaders can take to maximize the impact their objectives will have.

#1. Make sure every goal is measurable
If your goals aren’t tied to specific numbers or benchmarks, it will be next to impossible to define what success looks like. Badenoch is quick to point to quantifiable goals as every organization’s best path forward, noting, “Measurement was so important to us. It helped with providing clarity to us as an executive team and to the whole company in terms of what good was going to look like. Sometimes you embark on a journey and it’s not clear what success will look like, so it’s a little bit harder to maintain momentum.”

#2. Prioritize transparency
Once you’ve created goals and brainstormed success metrics that can accompany them, leaders must ensure that employees across the organization are aware of these objectives. In the words of Badenoch, “I think the clarity of what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it, and making it transparent and trackable all the way through is really important.” When employees have complete visibility into the agile transformation goals their organization is striving to achieve, they will feel empowered and encouraged to begin contributing to them.  

#3. Be honest with yourself about your magnitude of change
Some leaders who want to believe they’re embarking on a transformation journey may be shying away from making the bold changes needed to facilitate the shift to agile operating models. Badenoch emphasizes the importance of moving away from traditional processes and tools and instead embracing innovative technologies and systems.

In her words, “What executives should be asking themselves is are they building an organization that actually is adaptable to change and moves away from our traditional world where we resisted change and held onto the way things were until we couldn’t resist anymore and then we have these horrible transitions which are really painful. Or are you building a dynamic organization that can actually adjust and evolve?”

To learn more about what successful transformation looks like in action, check out Seagate’s case study to uncover how the leading data storage solutions provider embraced an internal-first redeployment strategy that earned them $33 million in savings.

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