The following excerpt from the book “Networked, Scaled, and Agile,” by Amy Kates, Greg Kesler and Michele DiMartino was provided by the publisher, Kogan Page. Kates Kesler Organizational Consulting is owned by Accenture.
We are in an unparalleled time of change. We believed 2020 would begin a decade of transformation in every industry and in every company through digital and technology that would mean new ways of working, new ways of making decisions and new ways of engaging with each other and with customers. The Covid-19 crisis accelerated this transformation, making it clear that companies would need to achieve digital transformation of their entire enterprise much faster. As we close 2020, we are at the beginning of what we think is a once-in-an-era, massive re-platforming of global business over the next five years.
Today’s CEOs have two clear imperatives. One is to transform every aspect of the enterprise using digital and technology to realize value. The other is to move at unprecedented speed and scale, especially for large organizations, while bringing their people along the journey.
Addressing these imperatives demands answering age-old questions about how to break down internal silos and build horizontal networks. While these challenges are not new, they are inseparable from success. To achieve these imperatives, you must have an organizational design that creates the right connections and the right conversations, led by the right leaders.
At Accenture, we learned that lesson in 2014 as we began transforming our company to be a leader in digital, cloud and security services. We put in a growth model of our own organizational design that moved those services from less than 20 percent of our business to more than 70 percent today. As we completed that strategy in 2019, we set our sights on our next transformation—capturing the opportunities created by this strong platform of capabilities and the market momentum around digital and technology-enabled transformation. We knew our first priority was finding the right organizational design.
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I was a new CEO on September 1, 2019, and I wanted to put the new growth model in place on March 1, 2020. The ambition was to move faster than we had ever seen any organization of our scale move. Imagine a $43 billion company with more than 500,000 people designing and implementing—within six months—a new growth model that would evolve our services, the way we operate, our leadership and our culture. This included changing our P&L in the middle of our fiscal year, eliminating 32 percent of our management nodes, and changing the role of roughly 200 of our top 300 leaders in a single day. And we needed to do so without disrupting the strong momentum we had in the market.
To get the organizational design right, I turned to some of the strongest leaders in the field—Greg, Amy, and Michele at Kates Kesler Organizational Consulting. Within weeks, it became apparent that not only would the Kates Kesler team be critical to achieving our goal, but also their specialized skills, which transformations demand, would be an increasing need for our clients. They are now part of Accenture.
The team brought fresh perspective and a deep knowledge of organization. They asked the right questions and guided work streams that would bring to life our organization’s focus on shared success with our clients, our people, our shareholders, our partners and our communities. The scale and speed at which we worked were extraordinary and a true example of what agile really means. On March 1, 2020, we implemented our new growth model, which included simplifying our organizational structure and new ways of working with each other. We did so having delivered the strongest sales quarter in our history, with outstanding revenue growth.
Like most companies on transformational journeys, one of our greatest organizational challenges was building those horizontal networks while focusing on how to work across our services and markets to deliver end-to- end solutions to our clients as a responsible business. To succeed, it’s about having the right conversations with the right people. Continuously.
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Is your business designed for the future? In our new book “Networked, Scaled, and Agile” we show how organization design can help you build a global, multi-dimensional organization that can move fast.
- Amy Kates, Managing Director – Kates Kesler Organization Design, Accenture
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It is worth noting how Kates Kesler works and how they fit into our transformation. A new organizational design was not the goal, but rather was a key enabler to the transformation we were seeking. Kates Kesler joined our team, quickly got up to speed on our strategic goals, asked the right, hard questions, and gained the trust of very senior executives. Imagine being a consultant to a group of consultants! They pushed us to have the difficult conversations—remember, we eliminated nearly a third of our management nodes. They worked seamlessly with the broader team, and in particular, our change management team. We were using our transformation as a testing ground for new, state-of-the-art change management techniques to enable faster change and adoption, and they were a great thought partner.
What was particularly striking to me was the first meeting our Chief Leadership and Human Resources Officer, Ellyn Shook, and I had with them. They were clear: They could not be effective, and we could not achieve the, frankly, unheard of speed from design to implementation unless I was directly involved. And they would not do the work without that commitment. I immediately trusted them because they were direct and unambiguous.
The people-focused design features and insights the authors have gained from working with scores of large global companies, through similar issues, are the focus of this new book from the Kates Kesler team. It is a timely strategy for building organizations suited to the opportunities that today’s business model and technology innovation demand.
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