The Shifting Landscape of Business Agility and Consulting
Join Scrum Inc. Chief Product Owner and Chief Operating Officer as they share their insight into the shifts in agile consulting
When change is the only constant, adaptability is key to survival. The world of consulting is no exception. Clients are no longer content with just learning the ropes of specific methodologies like Agile and specific frameworks like Scrum and Scrum@Scale. These days, clients expect more.
Achieving better, more predictable outcomes and out-performing competition has always been the goal. So, what’s different now? Today, organizations need to replicate the impact that agile approaches have had at the team, project, or product level at the enterprise level. Now, leaders are pushing the boundaries of how companies organize and operate in order to gain and keep a competitive advantage.
In this article, we will explore the changing landscape of agile consulting and how it is evolving and reshaping with the organizations it serves. We’ll also discuss the future of business agility consulting, why training is just a part of the equation, and how the ultimate goal has always been (and should always be) better outcomes.
The Growth & Evolution of Agility
Traditionally, business agility consulting has been synonymous with the implementation of team-level Agile and Scrum frameworks. Trainers and coaches were hired to train teams in these practices, with the hypothesis that training would lead to improved efficiency, faster product delivery, and increased customer satisfaction. While this approach undoubtedly brought positive changes to many organizations, it often led to a myopic focus on processes and procedures at the team-level, rather than organization-wide success.
Now, buyers are more sophisticated. Today’s cohort of corporate leaders have come up through the ranks during the popularization of agile practices in the 2000s and 2010s. Many of these leaders have already used agile approaches to deliver results at the team or product level. Consequently, their expectations have evolved beyond team-level or role-specific training; now, they want to adapt the principles, practices and structures that drove their prior success to their specific context and at a new scale.
Additionally, agile skills have become widespread throughout the workforce, reshaping the need for education. Employers now expect their team members to possess agile skills, reducing the need for external training. This shift has resulted in diminished returns on roles solely focused on teaching agile skills, contributing to a recent wave of mass layoffs within the agile industry, affecting companies like Capital One, Target, and others.
At Scrum Inc., we've adapted to these changes, shifting our focus from fostering high-performing teams to cultivating high-performing organizations. Our approach has grown to meet our mature, experienced buyers and agilists. We’ve discovered that we can create a more significant impact by nurturing an agile ecosystem in partnership with our clients. We focus on transforming an organization’s operating model, core policies and procedures, and the ways of working to drive holistic change, emphasizing and prioritizing principles, business outcomes, leadership, and agility throughout the organization.
The Bigger Picture
Why are clients now hyper-focused on improving organization-wide effectiveness? The answer is simple: they have no choice. The business landscape is undergoing a seismic shift, demanding rapid adaptation or facing obsolescence. Macro-environmental factors are driving organizations to evolve or perish.
Fluctuating interest rates have shifted organizations from an era of affordable investments to one where efficiency reigns supreme. The pandemic accelerated the need for adaptation, spotlighting the agility of organizations with flexible structures. However, as the pandemic wanes, organizations face the challenge of transitioning from crisis-mode operations to prospering in an environment characterized by high capital costs, evolving demands, and global uncertainties. This shift is compounded by the rapid pace of technological disruption, the accessibility of AI and the next wave of internet connectivity.
Delivering Reliable Outcomes
In this complex, transformative landscape, the emphasis has shifted. It's no longer about merely "doing Agile" or "being Agile." Instead, it's about delivering reliable outcomes. This profound shift carries significant implications for the consulting industry and for Scrum Inc. We're witnessing a decline in demand for training, as clients recognize that individual education alone is insufficient for achieving enterprise-wide outcomes. Instead, clients are seeking outcome-driven consulting, where we collaborate with them to craft strategies tailored to their unique needs.
It's essential to acknowledge that this shift isn't solely about moving away from training or coaching; it's about changing the entire system to drive results. Many of our clients who initially sought team-level training eventually recognized the need to transform their systems to achieve the results they desired. At Scrum Inc., we understand that the new paradigm demands not only individual skills but a holistic transformation of organizational structures and operations. Our approach has evolved accordingly to address these broader needs.
The Future of Business Consulting
So, what does the future hold for business consulting and for Scrum Inc.? Well, it's all about evolution. We must be strategic and respond to customer needs by offering a range of tools, patterns, practices, frameworks, and approaches to meet their context-specific challenges. Our approach must be hyper-focused on driving outcomes, and our suite of tools need to be expertly adapted.
In the end, the focus on outcome-driven consulting allows us to have a more significant impact on our clients' success. For us, the “product” we deliver is a better, more reliable, more adaptable organization. It's about partnering with our clients to achieve better business outcomes, and that's a rewarding journey for both parties.