Agility has become a hot topic in today’s rapidly changing business environment, affecting both project management and organisational structures. But what is the best way to approach an agile transformation? André Häusling addressed this issue in his book ‘Agile Organisations’. He conducted a survey among 14 companies, including PTV, to find out about their agile success stories. André Häusling spoke with us about his new book.
Compass: Mr Häusling, what was your intention in writing this book?
André Häusling: In our interviews with companies dealing with agility, we could identify a central aspect that all of them had in common: They were extremely curious about agility and wanted to find out how others address this issue. Pooling knowledge and expertise so that people and businesses can learn from each other was also the central idea behind the Agile HR Conference initiated by us a few years ago. And it was the guiding principle for our ‘Agile Organisations’ publication. Our aim is to share this ‘Learning from experience’ concept with those people who have not yet attended our conference, but who are interested in finding out how other companies approach agile transformation. So we asked companies we have cooperated with for a long time to share their experiences and knowledge.
Compass: What are the biggest challenges for companies in terms of agility?
André Häusling: This depends on the companies’ level of maturity and their market environment. These two aspects determine how agile a company needs to be. However, there are certain drivers that fuel the need to be agile. These include technological change and digitisation, along with increasingly dynamic and complex markets. Moreover, customer behaviour is changing quickly as customers are better informed due to greater transparency. This is why they are expecting customized solutions – just to name a few issues that companies are currently dealing with. So agility could be a promising strategy.
Compass: You say there is no silver bullet for agile transformation. Is this why your book contains a lot of best-practice examples?
André Häusling: All businesses that want to become more agile have to deal with their specific challenges in order to identify crucial aspects and ‘pain points’ related to their transformation process. These factors depend on their individual organisational framework, which means there is no master plan that can be applied directly to all other organisations. Depending on the agile maturity level, there are however certain patterns related to different typical dimensions. We have described these patterns in our TRAFO model, which also represents the explanatory framework of ‘Agile Organisations’. In order to make these dimensions more tangible, different organisations have outlined their agile development related to one of these dimensions. PTV, for instance, described its structure-based changes.
Compass: What’s so exciting for you about PTV’s agile process?
André Häusling: From our point of view, it is the systematic implementation that makes PTV’s agile transformation process so special. There are not many companies that focus on their own structure early in the transformation process and change it fundamentally. PTV was radical in their thinking at an early stage and had the courage to try out something new. That’s impressive.
Compass: In the field of software development, it is quite common to follow an agile approach. What sectors could also benefit from this concept?
André Häusling: Agile methods are so popular in software development because iterative procedures and incremental (further) development steps can be easily implemented in this field. Moreover, they facilitate provision of updates. But we also see a lot of potential in the field of physical product development. There are now more and more customers opting for agile processes. Agile approaches will probably also be established throughout the public sector, making city administrations, schools and legislative procedures more agile. The current, rather bureaucratic solutions no longer appear to be adequate in view of the ever-increasing complexity in this sector.
About André Häusling
André Häusling is one of the pioneers when it comes to agile transformation in German companies. After graduating in Social Science, he worked in the HR field for consultancies and major organisations before founding HR Pioneers GmbH in 2010. His passion: Successful agile transformation – for the benefit of the companies and their people.