An agile transformation office key to project success, says McKinsey

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An agile transformation office key to project success, says McKinsey

When undertaking a major agile transformation project in an organisation, setting up a dedicated agile transformation office (ATO) can help ensure the project’s success.

An article from McKinsey & Co.’s Amit Anand, Khushpreet Kaur, Noor Narula, and Belkis Vasquez-McCall titled ‘Why an agile transformation office is your ticket to real and lasting impact’, outlines what an ATO does and how it gives transformational change projects the best possible chance.

“An ATO shapes and manages the transformation, brings the full organisation along, and  perhaps most important  helps it achieve lasting cultural change,” the article says. 

Unlike a traditional project management office, an ATO functions interdependently across an organisation’s departments. 

It oversees the transformation roadmap, works to optimise culture and change management, helps optimise interactions between different departments, trains senior leaders and sources and upskills talent.

While the ATO will evolve over time, it is still vital to make definitional decisions at the outset on top of its general mandate and purpose.

Usually, the ATO lead reports to the CEO or one of the CEO’s direct reports, but in order to ensure it doesn’t fall into becoming “just another change initiative” the article suggests “either solid or “dotted” reporting lines between functional or business leaders and the execution leaders in the ATO.”

While the ATO needs to be integrated throughout the organisation, the article points to a particular need for a tight partnership between the ATO and HR.

“The ATO helps shape the creation of the talent pipeline for these roles, both internally and externally, in collaboration with other parts of the organisation, such as HR,” the article reads. 

“A tight partnership between the ATO and HR is crucial to ensure that the organisation attracts and retains the talent needed for the transformation, develops the appropriate capabilities, and engages and excites people across the organisation.”

Ensuring that roles are clearly defined within the ATO is parallel to this, as the talent make-up of the ATO should reflect the capabilities and skills that are needed for the transformation project.

These roles will include the transformation leader at the top, along with those who are methodology specialists and coaches, and, vitally, those who are able to communicate effectively to the rest of the organisation and “helps target the messaging to all audiences involved in the transformation, including leaders, managers, teams being transformed, and those that will be transformed in the future”.

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