Organisational Sprint - Exploiting organisational performance reserves

The performance of an organisation is a necessary prerequisite for its success. To achieve this, organisations must constantly adapt to change. New customer requirements, new competitors, changing expectations of scarce talent also require organisational adaptability. If adaptation is only possible to a limited extent, the performance of an organisation decreases. This can manifest itself in many symptoms:

  • Growth is regularly below market growth.
  • Productivity and profitability lag behind the competition.
  • The power of innovation decreases noticeably.
  • The organisation finds it more difficult to respond to customer requests.
  • Internal organisational conflicts are taking up more space.
  • The number of absences and redundancies increases, vacancies remain unfilled for longer.

When it comes to the question of how the performance of an organisation can be improved, the buzzword "reorganisation" quickly comes to mind. At the same time, many companies shy away from this option - often for good reasons, as reorganisation is costly, time-consuming and is often initially accompanied by a deterioration in organisational performance.

When deciding for or against reorganisation, it helps to carefully analyse the obstacles that are currently preventing better performance. If they are based on serious structural problems, a reorganisation makes sense. More often, however, it turns out that it is so-called "soft" factors that are slowing down the performance of an organisation: adherence to established but less productive forms of cooperation in teams, unresolved interface conflicts, lack of clarity in the focus on common goals. In these cases, the major reorganisation is of little or at best indirect help.

It is more effective - and also much more flexible and less risky - to work on the specific causes, taking collaboration and leadership into account as key factors. In this way, the two most frequently cited pitfalls for failed transformation goals are avoided: inadequate communication (77 per cent) and a lack of leadership (73 per cent). Instead of turning the entire organisation upside down, the organisational sprint focuses on its untapped performance reserves. At the same time, it strengthens cohesion and joint development because everyone involved is involved from the outset.

What is the Organisational Sprint?

The Organisational Sprint is an approach that quickly and noticeably improves the performance of your organisation without hindering day-to-day business. With the Organisational Sprint, we not only identify and eliminate the relevant performance hurdles in your organisation. We also empower the top team and the entire organisation to apply the process of adaptive improvement themselves. In this way, you can continuously identify the causes of newly emerging performance hurdles and promptly eliminate them in the spirit of a learning organisation. This is achieved in three steps.

Carry outa diagnosis

Identify hurdles and prioritise them together. We carry out a focussed diagnosis, jointly assess the identified performance hurdles in a workshop with the top team and determine which ones should be worked on subsequently. We draw on data from our organisation scan and supplement interviews, focus groups or data/benchmarks as required. The top team remains the central decision-making body throughout the entire process.

Working in sprints

Develop and test solutions. In sprints lasting 2-4 weeks, the employees involved develop, immediately test and improve solutions for the most important performance hurdles. Major adjustments are approved by the top team. The next performance hurdles to be worked on are then selected and overcome in the following sprint.

Increaseimpact radius

Recognising and tackling structural challenges. The intensive work in sprints often reveals structural, systemic adjustment requirements, for example in the organisation, processes and decision-making procedures. These are prepared ready for management to make decisions and can then be addressed.

Why is the approach successful?

With the Organisational Sprint, we regularly achieve significant improvements in a short space of time that have a lasting effect. The tried and tested process is successful for five reasons:

  • Leadership-driven: The management teams retain their original responsibility for improving the organisation.
  • Focussed: In a lean process, work is concentrated on resolving specific, prioritised challenges.
  • Business-driven: Solution hypotheses are quickly developed and tested in real business cases by the employees involved.
  • Effective: Improvements are quickly noticeable and subsequently promote the acceptance of the changes.
  • Complexity-appropriate: Overarching challenges are recognised and solved by the management team and - depending on the topic - the relevant experts.

Project example - What does it look like in practice?

Initial situation

Our client was confronted with ever faster changing customer requirements, new legal framework conditions and growing competition. He could no longer keep up with the pace of market change.

Project goals

  • Faster time-to-market
  • Higher product quality
  • Improved transparency

Procedure

  • We used a rapid analysis (including automated employee surveys and job shadowing) to identify starting points for the transformation.
  • We regularly developed the resulting change backlog together. In this setting, we worked with the client to identify the most important obstacles to achieving the project goals.
  • As part of a step-by-step agile transformation, we removed the obstacles. We stabilised this change via an executive action team (two managing directors and six division and department heads) and a change agent community of 15 employees.

The challenges

  • Unfamiliar working mode: establishing short, focussed meetings to coordinate and decide on change initiatives as a new form of collaboration for the top team
  • New responsibilities: Overcome rigid division of labour and demarcated territories in favour of cross-departmental collaboration
  • Transition from old to new: managing the balancing act between old organisational structure and new process organisation

Impact

  • Ensuring the necessary development speed to defend the high market share >25% against new, innovative competitors; significant increase in quality in the development of new software components
  • Gradual optimisation of the organisation's performance without friction losses in production
  • Increased personal responsibility of employees for continuous improvement
  • Proactive promotion of a continuous improvement process through cross-functional teams
Talk to us
Philip Semelmayer
Philip Semelmayer
Associate Principal
Lucas Brosi
Lucas Brosi
Associate Principal
Dr. Axel Sauder
Dr. Axel Sauder
Partner

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