Agile Transformation in BIG Organizations

Have your ever faced a situation where senior management simply asked you to become “agile” without any organization restructure?

Have you ever encountered situation where processes did not change yet you were expected to deliver projects in an “agile” way?

I guess many of you have and will continue to experience this over and over again.

The agile delivery and agile way of thinking has to be from top down. Our executives need to be invested in this. You cannot become agile if your organization structure, processes and handoff across teams are not flexible and not customized for agile delivery.

For BIG companies with 5000+ employees, this becomes even more important.

That is why the ANZ story about their AGILE journey is so fascinating and gives an insight of how you need to restructure the organization to meet your agile requirements.

(Courtesy of, click link below)

ANZ reveals the good and bad of its Agile transformation

In this report, ANZ Banking Group General Manager Christian Venter describes in Adobe Summit 2019, Las Vegas:

  • how the entire organization of 9000 employees had to be restructured from senior management to ground level. How everyone had to reapply for the new positions including Mr Venter, even though he was the one leading the transformation. He explains how the purpose was to recruit the correct people with the correct mindset including curiosity and empathy, which is what he calls the NWOL (New Ways of Leading). People who got big bonuses, did not have empathy for their team and was not willing to share the load with the teams were shown the door.
  • how specific areas of organization including risk, procurement, audit, legal, marketing, technology were reorganized into tribes of 150 staff, where each tribe had about 20 to 30 squads of a mixture of resources from those areas so that they can work in somewhat autonomous way. Where there are lack of resources, those specific resources sit on tribe level and not on squad level. This is called as NWOW (New Ways of Working).
  • how this transformation allowed them to deliver the same work with 20% to 30% less staff
  • how this organization helped ANZ deliver value to business quicker by reducing the number of handoff between teams or functional areas
  • how the funding model where project budgets are allocated only once is archaic and does not mesh well with agile delivery

In my opinion, this article is a very good read if you want to understand how other companies are trying to transform into an agile organization. How agile transformation requires organization adopting agile principles in its operating model and processes, not just adopting “agile” as a buzz word!

Last year, Woolworths cited ANZ as a place it is “gleaning a lot of insights” to apply to its own organization-wide agile transformation.


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