Embracing agility and driving efficiency and effectiveness are the most important business considerations for brands this year, according to a recent study from MediaCom. Large organizations are implementing Agile and operating entrepreneurially at scale, including Barclays, Cerner, C.H.Robinson, Ericsson, Microsoft, Riot Games and Spotify among others.
In this context, Cognitive Talent Solutions utilizes Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) to help companies accelerate the adoption of the Agile methodology, enabling them to transform their organizations in a more efficient and effective manner by leveraging the influence of informal leaders.
ONA is a method to create statistical and graphical models of people, tasks, knowledge and resources in organizational systems, making the interaction between strategic groups visible. This post reviews a case study on the utilization of ONA to speed the Agile Transformation of a fictional company (ACME).
ACME wants to spread the adoption of the Agile methodology at company level, and decides to leverage the capabilities of ONA to identify informal leaders who can act as early adopters.
ACME runs an internal survey to gather information on how employees interact with each other (e.g. sharing information, providing personal and technical support). Once the information has been gathered, ACME uses Organizational Network Analysis to visualize the results, categorizing employees by their level of influence (e.g. central, intermediary and peripheral employees).
ONA helps ACME to identify informal leaders like Mary, an employee able to influence a total of 40 peers without a formal leadership role. ACME provides Mary intensive Agile training and promotes her to Agile Champion, becoming an early adopter of the Agile methodology within the organization.
ONA also helps ACME identify key employees who are disconnected from the organization. An example is John, an experienced software developer who only interacts with 3 employees. ACME involves John in a mentoring program so he can increase his level of interaction with the organization by sharing his knowledge. This mitigation plan enables John to create value for the company, increasing his level of engagement and reducing his turnover risk. It also helps John to deal with the company’s Agile transformation in a more effective manner, as concerns about competence and past resentments are two of the top ten reasons why people resist change.
By appointing 3% of the population who are informal leaders to Agile Champion roles, ACME is able to spread the adoption to 85% of the remaining employees. This enables ACME to transform the organization with a higher level of effectiveness and efficiency than it would have achieved by relying exclusively on formal leaders. Formal leaders are essential to catalyze a movement, but it is informal leaders who ultimately influence and decide whether a new behavior takes hold.
As Agile becomes the new normal, companies’ ability to leverage the influence of informal leaders and accelerate their transformation journey will be one of the keys to thrive in a rapidly changing environment and stay competitive.