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Business Agile

Establishing an agile operating model at a large retail corporation

Creating and implementing a new organizational unit with an agile steering and approach to ensure continuous value-creation and fast adaptation to customers’ needs.

Ascend driving agile change

The client, a retail corporation with global operations, faced continuous and rapid changes of consumer expectations, the competitive arena and the diverse global talent market – all intensified by the constantly evolving tech landscape. To adapt and stay successful, the client initiated a large-scale transformation with the help of Ascend. It included redesigning ways of working, steering, organization structures, people and competencies, sourcing and technology.

A key driver for the change was to achieve a faster time to market, improve customer experience and ensure a more adaptable operating model for delivering technological solutions, services and products. The client faced challenges caused by functionally oriented organizational structures and separated ownership, which led to silos with complex handovers between business, development and operations. In addition, the traditional ways of working and technological platforms resulted in long release cycles and slow innovation.

Ascend was the advisor and facilitator in the small team that initially launched the idea and developed the transformation approach. As the transformation mobilized, Ascend was part of the program management and, in close collaboration with the client, formulated the hypothesis for the future organization, mapped the baseline for current structures, resources, costs and technology platforms.

Given the size and complexity of the change, the client set up a structured program office including Ascend resources to coordinate the change and manage the different streams. The transformation utilized agile methods and an iterative approach to accelerate the progress.

As the transformation scaled up, Ascend headed the stream responsible for communication internally in the overall corporation and externally. Ascend was also part of the team setting up agile ways of steering for the new business function.

The transformation established a new organizational unit with an agile operating model built around consumer-centric tech products to enable the global matrix between central units and sales markets.

  • The new business function merged previously separate departments with 3000+ employees, built on customer-focused and autonomous teams delivering tech products and enabling platforms.
  • Team members adopted an agile way of working with the overall organization following a steering model built on Objective and Key Results (OKRs). In addition, there was a shift in mindset and culture. While significant, this shift is only a first step on the journey to evolve the tech and business organization further. 

Transforming an operating model for an organization of substantial volume and complexity is a challenge in itself but including the dimensions of technology and how to increase agility at scale all the way from the global corporate strategy down to the product team delivery – that makes for a really fun challenge!

Erik Ärnström, Project Lead of the communications stream

Erik Ärnström

Senior Manager

Emy Haftor

Senior Manager

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