Structural changes – What are the biggest challenges?

We are currently experiencing it again, an agile transformation and its actually coordinated process sparks off discussions that endanger the whole character and the roll-out of the actual change.

Where does this come from and what are the reasons for such a disruptive change? We want to get to the bottom of this thought with the following article.

Check input requirements

One of the most common reasons why this happens is a lack of entry requirements and an inappropriate target picture of the coming structure. A big advantage of the agile working environment is the iterative approach (planning, implementing, testing, evaluating). But already in the planning stage these steps are not considered in the structural goal picture. The expectation is that a group of specialists will know, estimate and classify all possible requirements of an organisational structure.

Why do we expect this? When it is actually clear that this is exactly the reason in the development of products and services why we start an agile transformation!

The existing target images have all been developed by companies and organisations and have been in use in these companies for several years now. This means that they too have experienced a development which is no longer represented and in most cases is not documented. The adoption of such a target picture for my organisation can therefore at best only provide a clue, but cannot represent a 1:1 solution with absolutely congruent results.

The whole thing has to be seen as a process where I take from the existing target images what has the highest possible degree of coverage and put other contents at the back that do not fit or contain prerequisites that one does not want to deal with.

Also the requirements of the organisation and especially the employees have to be considered. Do they already have agile basic knowledge? Do they already have experience with agile roles? How high is the penetration rate in terms of experience in agile work in the current project teams?

Adjustment of the structure, how much can an organisation cope with simultaneously?

Even if all the prerequisites have been examined in depth and the target image subsequently allows an iterative approach, the question must still be asked how many changes an organisation and its employees can cope with at the same time?

The danger is that if the scope is too small, the benefits achieved through agile work are completely distorted by the disruptive energies or even a massive deterioration in effectiveness occurs. Basically, agile work is effective at first, but not necessarily efficient. The disruptive energies can take a high toll on the motivation of employees and stakeholders within the organisation, which usually leads to a wave of dismissals imitated by employees.

On the other hand, if too many changes are made at the same time, all radical elements of the transformation are released, which inevitably leads to an abrupt drop in effectiveness and a high level of dissatisfaction, which in the end leads to the same result.

The loss of employees will take place especially in those areas where a simple re-employment is not possible, also due to the skilled labour situation in Germany, will also put a strain on the organisation. The loss of knowledge that has been initiated as a result can usually no longer be compensated for in the long term, which leads to a failure of the transformation.

It is therefore essential to plan an iterative procedure and to enter into a transparent dialogue with the employees from the very beginning. Agile working means to communicate transparently and in detail on problems. The dialogue with the employees and the mapping of the concerns and fears as well as hints can show you the necessary steps for the transformation. As soon as the transformation has been started (also iterative), regular feedback and evaluation rounds have to be held in order to plan further measures in a timely and appropriate manner.

New roles and functions, old hierarchy vs. agile collaboration

Agile work not only brings new processes and a new way of working together, it also involves new roles. Depending on the chosen objectives and framework, these roles can also be numerous and novel in terms of responsibility.

Bringing experienced employees into new roles and functions has always been one of the most challenging activities of an HR manager. But in the age of agility it has become even more complex.

Employees who are rather critical of change do not necessarily agree as the first candidates for such a move. Here too, especially with regard to the iterative approach, an area should be selected beforehand where employees are concentrated who are more likely to welcome such a change. Through the positive effects that will be achieved with the outstanding motivated employee, they will also act as a catalyst and multiplier for the rest of the organisation. In other words, energies that I have to put into the persuasion work at the beginning, I can reduce here and let the result and the motivation of the employees speak for themselves.

In principle, a critical attitude towards the organisation must not be perceived as bad. There are already many employees who have experienced the one or other transformation. Especially bad experiences then shape the character of the person. This should not be seen as a threat but as a challenge. Through a procedure that lets the results and experience of employees of the organisation speak for themselves, this automatically convinces further employees, reduces resistance and additional disruptive energies.

However, the selection of a person for a role or function should not be carried out as a “Captain’s Call”. Where possible and justifiable, this should be done through internal tendering. Those people who are particularly motivated will apply accordingly, ensuring that only candidates with the appropriate commitment and commitment are considered. This will also ensure that the best employee is assigned to the role that suits him/her.

However, there is no way around active preparation and subsequent active support of the employee. Without appropriate experts in the field, who have sufficient experience in the agile working environment and who accompany the employees accordingly close, it will not work. The more active and careful this accompaniment is, the more successful and motivated the employees will be in their new role.

Status Quo

These are by far not all the hurdles of an agile transformation, but they are a selection of the points that most often take effect in a structural change. Especially in view of the current situation within the German economy, a topic that is currently attracting a great deal of attention. It is a small excerpt of our experience with regard to digital and agile transformations, but is also intended to give you an idea of our main areas of focus. Our goal is to create an agile working environment that is compatible for the customer and his employees and to increase performance in terms of effectiveness and sustainable efficiency.

We are happy to support you in the introduction of agile working, as well as more agility for your company!

If you still have questions or suggestions, please contact us!

Scroll to Top