In a prior post, we mentioned that not all organizational growth may be organic in nature. This post will help you understand how the Manifesto for Scaling Agility’s values and principles may still apply even for non-organic growth. Specifically, we will discuss two primary structured growth patterns: Growth through acquisition or merger. Contracted growth. Both […]
In a prior post, we mentioned that not all organizational growth may be organic in nature. This post will help you understand how the Manifesto for Scaling Agility’s values and principles may still apply even for non-organic growth. Specifically, we will discuss two primary structured growth patterns:
Both can add large groups of people quickly to an organization’s efforts. As a result, they can feel like they should be handled differently and that the Scaling Manifesto may not apply. We’d suggest that it still does, just that particular principles need to be emphasized.
When organizations decide to merge or one gets acquired, this can add teams, groups, programs, etc. in one large swoop. How should we scale agility to these new groups?
One hope is that the acquisition or merger considered how the organizational cultures will mesh and early communication began to establish a vision for how things would work when the acquisition or merger is completed. This will make things easier.
Suppose the teams are already working in an agile manner. What needs to be done? As recommended above, a vision can set a north star for a desirable future state and people can align themselves to it as they make decisions. The greater clarity the vision provides, the faster and easier the decisions that teams make will be.
One is radiating information between teams that have never worked together before. Presumably, one intent of the acquisition or merger is to better serve customers. Linkages between teams may be necessary to integrate their work together or to support customers using complementary products. Radiating information between teams will help them understand their relationships, where synergies may be leveraged, and how their work could impact each other.
Another is adopting only a minimal viable bureaucracy. Often, when organizations combine, they find overlap. There may be a need to reduce the number of people doing certain kinds of work. This is where the third principle comes into play:
“Respect, trust, and be kind to your people; foster a climate of open, honest, rapid, and empathetic communication.”
While open and honest communication about the overlap is necessary, it is important to remember that these people were doing valid work before. Their creativity could be tapped by identifying new work for them to do which may help the organization scale out. If there really is no need though, it is best to be respectful and kind when releasing them from the organization. That will build trust in those that remain, and it will be long remembered. It is probably good to plan for this contingency before the actual merger or acquisition occurs, so it isn’t done haphazardly.
Many organizations contract out work. One could contract large swaths of work and have no care for how it gets done. However, this approach will create friction between the organization and the contractor. The contractor will not understand why they are being contracted and may be working with a different vision than the client organization.
While it may be easy to contract for something large, even when the work dictates doing so with minimal viable bureaucracy, it may be best to build up the contracted organization slowly so that the growth is more organic. By doing this, the vision and goals of the effort can be shared more easily. Contracted teams can learn to radiate the appropriate information with other teams both inside and outside the contracting organization. Respect and trust can be better established. And teams can create an effective foundation of agility before bringing on additional ones.
While it may feel like these two circumstances warrant approaches that may not need to adhere to the Manifesto’s values and principles, it’s still advantageous to do so. As we’ve seen, these circumstances present new challenges that may require more emphasis on certain principles.
What challenges have you found when you decided to take one of these inorganic growth paths? Where do you find the values and principles helpful to consider? We’d love to hear from you and learn about these as the Manifesto for Scaling Agility increases adoption.