The Agile Organizational Development Framework (SOE#5)

– Dr. Saadi Adra, PgMP, PfMP, PMP, CEO at ADVISORS sarl and Guest Contributor


Dr. Adra is the Founder and CEO at Advisors (PMI-REP, PMI-KSA Academy, PMI-UAE, KG, KMI, ITQAN, GET, KETS, SKEMA Business School, Shipley Associate/Partner). Recipient of the PMIEF Snyder Award EMEA-2016 for the Integrated Life Cycle Management Framework (ILMF). He holds seminars in Saudi, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, Ghana, Portugal, Spain, France, Turkey and USA


Hamzah left his team with his client, offering them only one direction; make the client happy and went on a vacation…

There are three possible outcomes to this situation:

  1. Feels like cutting the whiskers of a pussycat? Wearing extra tight shirt and trousers, with a suffocating shoe? The essence of failure, throwing away everything Potter, Collins, Kotter, Drucker, Covey,… spoke off? You cannot just stop management planning, supervision and control and go away, expect hings to go very well on their own; this will rather lead to chaos, and worst, losing the client.
  2. The team has the needed competency and agility to work in an autonomous manner with the client, and they agree on an action plan that pleases the client. The team lacks the essential authority to access the resources and receive much needed support from other organizational units that follow the standard chain of command in a functional or bureaucratic organization. The client will be delayed until Hamzah comes back and provides the needed support.
  3. The team has the needed competency and agility, and proper access to resources. They work closely with the client, commit and deliver. By the time Hamzah is back, the client is ready to sign another order.

Organizational Development for Agility

Apparently, the third case does not happen by chance and requires a lot of preparation until we achieve a status, where the organization is not dependent on the leader to perform. This in turn, raises a rather intriguing question: What is the role of the leader if the team is capable of exceptional performance without his or her intervention? The answer is to manage Organizational Development for achieving organizational agility, building agile autonomous teams that are centralized around the customer, hence focusing the whole value of the organization on both the client and the team. Often, this requires a major transformation, hence our leader shall head change management by spreading awareness on the urgent need for change, forming a coalition from all decision makers in the first place, setting the right vision and communicating it to all stakeholders. Following, our leader shall build on the success story of our empowered team with his client and institutionalize on it to spread and transform the organization.

Organizational Development Framework (ODF)

Transforming an organization’s values to becoming “better, faster, cheaper” with focus on client and team is not an easy task. In fact this is swimming against the flow, as our organizations are formed around shareholders, revenues, profits, policies, compliance and sustainability of the status-co no matter what. Change is painful and demands consistency and perseverance in transforming organizational functions, while handling resistance in order to evolve the culture with the new values – a no overnight task.

ODF is a complex process and is composed of six service-categories, which are:

  1. Assessment and Gap Analysis
  2. Organizational Governance and Management Framework
  3. Process Development, Improvement and Re-engineering
  4. MIS and Process Automation
  5. Capacity Building and Development
  6. Operations & Roll-out

The Agile Organizational Development Framework

Hamzah says the above is great, but feels more like subscribing to Waterfall rather than Agile. Farid comes back with the following notes to enhance the ODF with more agility in order to produce more value with less work:

Start with Enhanced Assessment First.

The assessment has to cover multiple aspects that are listed in the previous organizational development chart, but needs to include:

  1. An analysis of customer needs for the future, rather than mere existing ones.
  2. Team-building capabilities is something of utmost importance, since the teams will provide both decision making and delivery in an autonomous manner.
  3. Governance, specifically for mobilizing decision making to the team level – to the extent possible.
  4. Analyzing organizational readiness is quite essential, since moving into organizational agility requires change at more than the level of the team.
  5. The level of leadership offers an indicator.

All-together the assessment produces a gap-analysis report that presents a holistic view, with details that cover both positive existing capabilities (and human assets) that should be preserved and nurtured, low hanging-fruits (capabilities that can be targeted for quick wins and low cost), and major challenges or pains that should be addressed.

Develop a Holistic-Adaptable Improvement Road-Map.

The gap-analysis report provides solid ground for conducting prioritization – similar to that known in Portfolio – but rather focused on the inside of the organization, instead of external investments and initiatives. Remember that the needed development is prioritized around client, team, mobile governance and proper decision making. Relative KPIs are set accordingly in order to provide visibility, measurement and identify success. Perhaps some concepts can be borrowed from lean-startup methods, with the complexity of being anchored within an existing organization. The road-map provides perspective and helps set a strategy, while much details are left to the individual improvement projects that will attempt to solve specific challenges, each at a time. The road-map is the anchor for integrating smaller agile improvement projects, and is subject to frequent visits based on any new data or evidence that was not clear before, based on experimentation and customer feedback.

Agile Autonomous Small Improvement Teams.

The result of the holistic road-map is the selection and prioritization of multiple improvement initiatives that will run both in parallel and series, each managed via an independent agile team that is highly empowered. If it is quite hard to transfer authority to the team, then include someone of the C-level with enough authority to work directly with the team, until there is enough value/cultural change in the organization to facilitate autonomous team efficiency – always at the organizational level, since our team and client are now almost operating as one entity.

Multiple Small Incremental Improvements.

Each team would work quickly to provide results applying the Pareto rule, focusing on the most important things first. In this type of agile development, it is OK not to get results in the first iteration, the underachievement will be a base for learning what not to do, and for rapid re-planning and refocus on what it more important, but this has to come really quick like in a week or two. By the seventh iteration, usually good practices are captured.

Team Interfaces Across Silos.

Although each team is working independently, interface management is monitored at the holistic level, and individual teams coordinate with other teams using the right interfaces. Cross-team interactions are monitored and supported thoroughly. In the beginning, you will find Agile teams trying to communicate with functional units, before everyone else moves to agile, and politics are quite critical here. Simultaneously, team performance is assessed and measured to train, support, facilitate, augment, replace or add are identified and implemented.

In organizational Development, there is no one-size-fits-all. The Agile Organizational Development Framework (Agile-ODF) is delivered by professionals with diverse backgrounds focusing primarily on competencies, teams, organizational values, culture, governance and various tools and techniques that are adapted to every unique situation.

If you are interested in a follow-up call for your corporate training or consulting needs, please fill in the form and you will receive a free A3 PDF for the Organizational Development Framework Chart:

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Check my previous articles:

The SE7EN Pains that Keep Organizations Awake at Night! (SOE#0)

How to Establish a Successful PMO (SOE#1)

PMO/PMC -The Missing Link (SOE #2)

17 Organizational Challenges & Common Pains (SOE #3)

The Ten Structures of Organizational Excellence (SOE#4)

Stay Tuned:

Public-Private-Partnership / Program Management Office PPP.PgMO (SOE#6)

Capacity Development Office (SOE#7)

Breaking the Silos – The Integrated Life Cycle Management Framework (SOE#8)

Capacity Building: Training for a Purpose (SOE#9)

The Integration of Consulting & Training (SOE#10)

Saving Troubled & Delayed Projects (SOE#11)

The Rapid Assessment & Improvement Engagement (SOE#12)

The Knowledge Management Office (SOE#13)

  1. It’s going to be finish of mine day, except before finish I am reading this impressive post to improve my knowledge.


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