It is important to emphasize the value to an organization of purposefully integrating the crucial capabilities of change agility, change management, and organizational project, program, and portfolio management to maximize the organizational capability for successful strategy achievement.
Strategies are only realized when they are well-implemented, and that is true for change agility strategies as well. And projects to implement strategies are less effective in delivering those strategies when there is not a clear set of organizational systems assuring the smooth transition from strategic direction to actual results. More organizations are beginning to realize that project management means more than just having good project managers. An integrated leadership, management, and support environment is just as critical for the delivery of strategies.
Figure 4: Integration of critical organizational processes for strategy delivery
The process defined in this paper for developing change agility is part of an overall strategy development process that includes work done to define both external and internal strategies crucial to organizational success.
Yet, defining a good strategy and action plan is only part of the picture. No strategy operates in a vacuum. It must be integrated with and prioritized against other work efforts, resourced, championed, supported, and monitored. A portfolio management function (whether in a formalized enterprise PMO function, a strategic planning organization, or, in smaller organizations, combined into program management activities) plays critical roles in assuring the successful delivery and adoption of the strategies—external and internal—through such activities as:
- Translating strategies into programs of work;
- Assessing and assuring the inventory of strategic work is not placing undue demands on any part of the organization and that the full inventory is digestible by the organization;
- Aligning resources of the organization with work needed to implement changes;
- Identifying the ways in which success of the strategy will be measured; and
- Monitoring continually the environment to adjust the portfolio of programs and projects as conditions change.
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Effective delivery of strategies is cemented by skilled capability and thoughtful application of program and project management, with the support of equally well-rounded change management processes. The portfolio, program, and project management processes also contribute to the organizational learning loop that drives future change agility strategy development.
- Projects and programs identify lessons learned that demonstrate both helpful and impeding cultural norms, commitment behaviors, and organizational capacities.
- Portfolio management functions identify such pervasive issues as change overload, resource holes, and poor understanding of the external environment that impact strategy success.
The success of change agility strategies requires the same purposeful implementation system as do external strategies.
Internal strategies also impact one another. A change agility strategy may require, in part, an effective talent development strategy or sourcing strategy—and a strategic sourcing strategy may require one or more change agility strategies.
The important message is that these strategy implementation systems must be holistically viewed and targeted for optimal delivery of the company’s strategies. In fact, the purposeful development of this set of linkages and expertise is, in itself, a worthy change agility strategy for many organizations.
Nearly 90% of the executives surveyed by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU, 2013) ranked organizational agility for change as vital to business success. And as described in PMI’s Pulse of the Profession® In-Depth Report: Organizational Agility (PMI, 2012a), organizations were three times more successful in implementing strategic changes when they had attended to such change agility practices as working well across organizational silos, effectively monitoring the external environment, and enacting formal change management processes within strong portfolio, program, and project management processes. There is ample evidence that organizational change agility is a crucial strategic enabler and worthy of intentional nurturing by every organization.
By treating the quest for organizational change agility as a part of the strategic planning cycle, and the systematic implementation of change agility improvements as a managed process of portfolios, programs and projects, organizations plan—rather than only hope for—their future success.
Like any other efforts at change, enhancing the systems that either impede or leverage change is a process fraught with the difficulties of resistance, competing viewpoints, gaps in leadership support, and all other forces that push back on change. Enhancing change agility is a long journey, but one that pays off by smoothing the road for future changes. By planning for the direction and conditions of that road, organizations can meet the challenges of strategy implementation in today’s business environment.
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