Over the last few years there has been a noticeable change in the approach on how companies manage innovation and organizational change. There is no doubt that everything around us is changing at the rapid pace and the pace is only increasing. Literally ‘Tomorrow’ has become the new log-term.
Some organizations respond to the changes quickly or rather effectively utilize the ever changing market dynamics for their advantage. Some organizations get entangled and bogged down, and find it difficult to cope with the constantly changing landscape. In the last decade itself, we have seen so many big giants falling in the trap of this phenomenon called “change”.
In their book “Competing for the future” published in 1994, Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad talked about the importance of futuristic vision of a company and it’s ability to shape that future in the years by predicting the change in advance and by developing core competencies. The need for futuristic vision has increased manifold in recent times; even more is the need of ability of the organization to respond to the change unleashed by the immediate future.
More and more companies are trying to get nimble to enable them to respond to change with agility. Over the years, there has been a clear shift in momentum about the ways how companies manage projects. The life cycle of a product has decreased considerably. Today, when you work on a long project spanning 4-5 years, often you will find yourself in a precarious position that before your project delivers the desired product, the need of the market has changed considerably or some disruptive technology has evolved already which has ceased the need of your project’s product. Does this mean that organizations should not plan for distant future or try to develop a product which takes considerable effort, resource and time as the project might eventually be abandoned? The answer to this situation is not to stop innovation but to manage the innovation by improving it to suit the changing environment.
For example, imagine a project you were working on few years back where you needed to develop a communication mechanism using the technology of a “Pager”. In between your project, you realized that one new device called “Cellphone” has come in the market which actually removed the necessity of a “Pager”. Rather than getting upset with this new risk and considering this as a set-back, you should modify your project scope so that you could actually get benefited by using cellphone instead of pager in your project.
The aim should not be to isolate yourself from risk (which can actually throws up great opportunities for you), but to embrace it and change yourself and your project to suit the new environment. Unfortunately, the cost of change could be too high and traditional project management practices are anyway not so adaptive to changes. Because of this, many organizations have turned to Agile management practices like Scrum which are more adaptive to changes reduces investment risk by iterative delivery. Flexibility in adding or modifying requirements at any time in the project lifecycle helps to a great extent to lessen risk which empowers the organization to respond to threats or opportunities from the business milieu and unanticipated requirements whenever they arise, with low cost of change as compared to traditional project management methods.
As more and more companies are adopting Scrum, there has been a paradigm shift in project management practice from traditional waterfall model to Agile. As the Agile philosophies suggest be adaptable and embrace this change.