Business Technology

Transforming a "big corporate" into a digital agile beast

6 min read

31 August 2018

As hordes of companies move towards an increasing pace of agility, the veracity that it’s more straightforward for SMEs to achieve the status of being an agile company can be hard to swallow. It’s not so easy for big corporates.

But, as we at RS Components can affirm, it’s not impossible. The company itself is fighting off the assumption that big, slow-moving B2B brands can’t reach the dizzy heights of agile working. An exception to the rule, perhaps, that well-established companies struggle to become more dynamic.

My realisation that digital would be the future shaped my vision for the company; to have the essence of a digital agency talent embedded within a corporate.

The question we need to be asking is, if it is possible for B2B brands and corporates to transform into an agile, well-performing beast while not being overshadowed by thirsty SMEs, how can it be done?

Identify and eliminate weakness

A major key to agile success? Don’t manage down all of the time. Managers need to strike a healthy balance between managing their bosses expectations and remaining accountable. But, within agile workforces, you’ll find that peer accountability is paving the way that employees are managed.

Subservient leadership and peer accountability in equal parts is the way forward. As a manager, encourage staff to tell you 12 things they feel need addressing within the company. It’s then your role to implement it – you’re doing this on the team’s behalf.

By swapping a top-down management system with agile teams, the areas of the company that need more support or updated processes will highlight themselves.

Transform employee mindsets

Encouraging staff to transform their mindsets towards working in a certain way isn’t just with the sole purpose of improving technical performance. Yes, technical performance is a vital cog in a business’ success, but personal growth, positive behaviour and a gauge on self-discipline is more valuable for long-term success.

Think about the results that could come about if your company culture places a focus staff. They are at the core of an organisation. It’s all too easy for each individual employee to be overlooked and their own goals not considered at large corporates. This is not conducive to an agile enterprise.

Start to think about the ways in which you can inspire your team’s behaviour, with the goal of supporting them with developing their confidence, motivation and work-life balance. The focus shouldn’t be on technical performance. By focussing on influencing, inspiring and motivating people, you’ll be helping them to progress both behaviorally and technically, resulting in better overall success.

Instilling a holistic approach

Encourage your staff to work across multiple departments and with wider teams, as this will provide a strong understanding of the business as a whole.

Compared to SMEs, corporate companies face the disadvantage of having a more limited understanding of the business outside of the team or department. If each department is working towards the same goal, then why doesn’t every team have at least a basic understanding of what each department’s contribution to the overall success of the company is?

This is something that RS Components recognise as vital in order to achieve their goal of being an agile, digitally led corporate.

We’ve created virtual cells across the company, where teams are integrated within a group of people from different departments. For example, a member of the digital marketing team sits with a member of the web design team as well as someone in the sales team. This means that, when a problem arises, teams have the expertise of employees from a mixture of departments.

Results show us this helps employees to expand their knowledge of other departments’ vital function within the corporation. You’ll find that the rate of success will become higher in turn, too.”

It’s important to instil this approach within new recruits, in order to ensure that every candidate will suit the structure and focus of the company. Integrating two or more departments is no easy feat, but it’s necessary if a corporate wants to undergo an agile transformation.

Looking to the future of agile within big corporates

Rather than seeking opportunities to adapt to the times and new ways of working, many big corporates have gone out of business talking too much and pondering over the ‘future.

Simply put, larger corporates that have gone out of business are talking too much internally and thinking of reasons why not to do it rather than actually doing it.

Zoella, for example, has significantly better reach and relevance than many corporates that spend millions of pounds on marketing budget.Corporates are scared of being eaten up by small, fast, hungry companies. To push past this, big brands need to have all of those strengths but add agility, strength and nimbleness.

So, should we expect to start seeing a clear divide between the firms that will be preparing their staff to embrace a transition to agile working, and those that will be averse to keeping up with the pace of accelerating change?

Vishal Chhatralia is senior vice president of digital at RS Components.