Financial services firms are finding true enterprise agility elusive—most say they are not there yet. Building true agility takes time.

Building true enterprise agility is not simple. It requires top-down and bottom-up effort—from leadership through every level—to shift and change the organization. While there is a lot of hype in the industry about how organizations are scaling agile, in reality our 2017 FS Change Survey shows that most FS organizations use it for less than 40 percent of their change programs. It takes time.

Three waves of change help to introduce and embed agility.

The first wave—set the vision

This first wave puts the basics in place. The vision for the transformation is set and an agile culture is jump-started amongst leadership. The organization begins to drive workforce transformation and invests in agile tooling to empower new ways of working and delivery execution.

  • Jump-start culture, shifting leaders to own the new approach.
  • Develop pockets of faster change in pilots and/or digital units.
  • Empower new ways of working via cross-team working, agile workspace and coaching.
  • Invest in agile tooling for development and collaboration.

Wave two—focus on team formation

The second wave begins to scale agile more broadly across products to portfolios, and begins the development of multi-disciplinary product teams. It progresses the culture and puts in place supporting capabilities—e.g., adapting funding for agile, creating dual speed technology and business structures to deal with new and incremental change, and opportunities.

  • Progress the cultural shift, empowering employees.
  • Scale agile to programs/portfolios, enhancing capabilities.
  • Adapt funding to enable short cycles for agile alongside traditional cycles.

Wave three—strategic agility

Few organizations have reached this third wave of change. At this stage of the journey to enterprise agility, flexible cross-functional teams have formed around products, and funding is allocated to product portfolios and tied to capacity and business outcomes. To enhance agility, the business is beginning to think about including partners and broadening its ecosystem to add value to its customers.

  • Develop a forward-thinking culture, removing hierarchies.
  • Tailor the operating model with persistent and cross-functional product teams.
  • Fund portfolios with capacity.
  • Enhance strategic agility, including external partnerships.

The journey to enterprise agility—developing the ability to anticipate, sense and respond to opportunity and market volatility—will radically and fundamentally change the organization. It cannot be rushed. Doing so can lead to risk and a loss of confidence. My advice: take a holistic perspective, pace the organization and make use of agile engineers and consultants that can provide strategic as well as tactical agile transformation assistance across all critical areas, from leadership to culture, agile change, risk and governance, funding and investment, organization, channels and operations, and technology and data.

Accenture is involved in a number of FS enterprise agility projects and my team and I welcome discussions on all aspects of enterprise agility. You can read more about Enterprise Agility in Financial Services in this report, or contact me to discuss.

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