You know this when someone suggests changes and they are far from reality? The resistance is often massive and the implementation often far too complex. Especially in an agile context, changes are to be made directly from the classic organization to the cool startup. But this alone is not an agile approach.

The magic word is “small steps” to the goal and then gradually evaluate and improve. One way to do this is to create maturity models. A maturity model helps to evaluate and improve the processes in the company. I would like to introduce an agile maturity model for this case, which I like to use.

A company can often only carry out the assessment of the degree of maturity by its gut feeling.

Dimensions of the agile maturity model

The first thing I would like to say is the first dimension: this is the actual maturity of the organization. This must be investigated and worked on. This is the place I just put to them. Of course, this will be presented even better in the individual sections! You can find them in the figure.

Maturity levels in organizations as I understand

So it’s about making information and communication tangible and available to everyone in the first step. You then optimize individual areas/team/departments and then set about cross-cutting processes. Only then do you look at the organization holistically.

There are now certain points to be improved in each area. I have shown these in the following figure. For each degree of maturity, you have the main topics that you tackle. These are the same in every degree of maturity and typical area of the company. However, you approach them differently in each degree of maturity. How exactly? I’ll show you this in detail per degree of maturity!

Focus topics in the respective maturity levels

The agile and digital maturity model and its implementation

In my opinion, change and improvement in an organization can only take place if there are defined practices and concepts that promote, build and establish improvement. That is why I now assign certain concepts to each dimension and focus.

Tip: Download the template here!

Agile and digital maturity model according to my own experience with concepts for implementation per maturity level and focus

Level 1: Transparency

The organisation is more traditional and conventional. There is a hierarchical organizational structure. Decisions are made by individual managers and communicated along the hierarchy levels. However, the company is facing increasingly rapidly changing requirements and wants to learn how to respond better. However, they are not yet so urgent that something really needs to be changed. They recognize many deadlocked structures and a lot “this has grown historically, not documented and you just have to know that”.

The challenges

  • Many companies are fully optimized for controllability and control. But this is just sham. From the inside it is often a mess and everything has grown historically and is undocumented.
  • They will achieve little at this stage. The first step is to analyse the current situation and create transparency. Show management what’s going on in the company.

The goals

  • Get feedback from the staff and collect the historical information.
  • Create reports and clean process documentation
  • Gather information about agility and new digital capabilities
  • Work out clean errors and potentials for management

Level 2: Improvement

Their organization remains traditional and conventional. You will now find the first documentation and there are clear starting points. They find that departments are organized by specializations and work in isolated subject areas. There are more or less regulated processes and there are many documents that are difficult to keep track of.

The challenges

  • Current processes and team performance are no longer sufficient for the tasks. The performance is not optimal and it is also transparent.
  • Decisions are made in central locations and processes are very slow and cumbersome.
  • Meetings are usually felt by employees as inefficient and a waste of time.

The goals

  • Establish agile working methods (Scrum, Kanban) at the team level and open up new forms of collaboration.
  • Joint team documentation to make knowledge transparent and usable.
  • Regular and meaningful reviews with suppliers and also in a team
  • Mindset change to ensure that the customer is the center of the company.
  • Recognize potentials in the company through regular retrospectives
  • Strengthening roles such as Scrum Master in teams as a first step towards dismantling the too strong hierarchy
  • Meaningful linking of software tools so that they can be used across borders and do not form silo solutions

Level 3: Cross-divisional work

Change is seen in the company as an opportunity. Initial improvements have been established at team level and there is a smattering of collaboration between departments, which are still silos and are led by “powerful” department heads. It is oriented at team level to the needs of the customer but not between the departments. Also, methods such as Scrum and Kanban are already established but only in teams. Work planning and communication is supported by digital tools. However, it differs between departments.

The challenges

  • The company has a lot of expertise and industry knowledge. But the departments do not share this.
  • Agile mindset and methods have arrived in teams but are blocked between departments.
  • As soon as the work takes place between the departments, everyone falls back into old behavior.
  • Work planning and communication is supported by digital tools. However, it differs between departments.
  • The decision to change has been made, but it is difficult for everyone to formulate this meaningfully and most employees do not know what the actual strategy is.

The goals

  • Formulate cross-cutting processes together and coordinate them with the department heads.
  • Scale agile methods and software tools so that departments work together in one tool. Create a common tool landscape and align agile approaches with each other.
  • Share a knowledge base with the other department
  • Clarify clear roles that are also accepted in other departments and promote projects that go across multiple departments. Clearly define what each department contributes to the project.
  • Prepare direct ways of communication and create the basis for a flat hierarchy by permanently strengthening the new roles in the company.
  • Conduct retrospectives together and view processes together from start to finish.

Level 4: Agile Organization

Now you also want to climb the highest level and become an agile organization. The organization works well together through the departments and an agile organization is now to be created holistically up to the board. Open and direct communication is just as much a part of the culture as transparency and flexible working models. The goal is interdisciplinary teams and self-organization.

The challenges

  • They can hardly draw on experience. Concepts around agile organization are often abstract. You need to customize them for your organization.
  • Concepts must be validated and explained to the employees.
  • The organization can only work with managers and employees. The complexity of the change is very high.
  • Fewer processes need to be defined. It is a barely tangible mindset of values and principles.

The goals

  • High employee retention and self-organization.
  • Implementation of modern methods of organizational development
  • Distribution of responsibilities and tasks based on roles and few good managers with personnel responsibility
  • The organization is a network of employees and distributed teams
  • Cooperation with partners and suppliers is based on trust and few contracts
  • Customers and employees work together on innovations
  • The workplace is so well equipped that teams can work together virtually
  • Employees actively design the organization and service according to regulations in coordination with the management is a foreign word

Conclusion

You realize that it makes sense to know your own maturity and to pin point the right milestones. It is always important to put one foot in front of the other and slowly improve. This way, you can also quickly notice progress and sell the change to employees in a practical way. The important thing is that you do not have to be at the same level of maturity at every focus (employees, suppliers,…). This can be very different and perhaps it is not always useful to have the highest degree of maturity everywhere. Now we only have to define one strategy. I recommend another article:

Tip: Download the template here!

More reading tips on Changemagement articles can be found here:

Image source: https://pixabay.com/de/illustrations/tafel-schritt-aufeinander-folgend-1273117/

Gender note: I have used the male form for easier reading. If no explicit distinction is made, women, miscellaneous and men as well as people of any origin and nation are always meant. Read more.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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