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Q&A with Joël Krapf

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Joël Krapf, Speaker and Author, Senior Manager at Accenture.

How could you describe your career path in few words?

Since I was little, I was driven by change. I was almost addicted to always learn something new and to help organizations improving the ways they are delivering value to their customers. I started my career as Head of Audit and Training in the Swiss Armed Forces, where I learned how to support employees on their learning journey. After two years in this role, I started at University St.Gallen where I eventually graduated in Management, Organization and Culture Transformation. During my studies I was a research associate focusing on how digital tools support the learning of organizations. After my studies I started as a Consultant at PwC. In 2016 then, I went to Swiss Post to work as Lead Agile Culture & Digital Skills. In parallel I wrote my PhD-Thesis in Agile Transformation. After my PhD I went back to PwC to support clients in their agile transformation. This also led me to Migros, which is the biggest employer in Switzerland. There I was Head Lean Portfolio & Agile Transformation and supported Migros’ agile journey from Start to scaling it to approximately 2’000 Business & IT professionals. Since 2022 I’m now the lead of the Business Agility Practice at Accenture Switzerland, supporting multiple large organizations on their journey to business agility.

How do you think agile practices have transformed companies over the past two years?

What I hear from our customers is, that most of them have started their lean-agile transformations 2-5 years ago. Thus, most of them have implemented agile practices at least across the major part of their technology division. However, most of them also say, that they feel their transformation is stagnating. The companies observe that their key metrics of business agility are not really improving on company level (e.g. value delivered, time-to-market, quality, customer happiness, employee engagement etc.). Lessons learned for most large companies so far is, that the implementation of agile practices shows fast results on team level or within certain initiatives. However, to really have an impact on the company performance, the agile transformation takes time to manifest its benefits. The reasons are threefold: (1) huge complexity and dependencies on collaboration and technology architecture level making it difficult and cumbersome to improve the system’s performance. (2) Leadership and culture hinder agile practices to unfold their true potential. (3) The transformation is not steered based on shared outcomes. Thus, after implementing a framework or playbook, the transformation is often considered finished even though the benefits have not really been achieved yet.

What successful cases of agile transformations have you had the opportunity to observe that have particularly stood out to you?

Since agile transformations are really complex, I have seen a lot of different approaches with different success elements in it. For example, one case was really successful in approaching the transformation as a continuous journey. They really followed the mindset of small and incremental change and scale agile practices across 2’000 business and IT professionals within 2 years. Another organization was amazing in establishing an inspiring, business driven reason why for the transformation. From that they derived their transformation outcomes that helped them steering the activities in the transformation teams very outcome oriented. Another case was really at the forefront of addressing the needed topics such as value stream structure and product management enablement. In conclusion, I’ve seen a lot of different approaches with individual success cases in it. However, all of those cases also had their fair share of challenges. Which seems normal for this kind of complex transformation.

Will agile practices continue to generate interest? What challenges do you see in the context of deploying these practices?

Since my background is in system theory, I understand Agile Practices probably broader than others. For me, agile practices are way more than Scrum, Kanban or Design Thinking. Agile Practices are in my understanding, all shared ways of working within an organization that support the business agility of the system. Based on that understanding, agile practices will be core of every future operating model. Be it the way we establish our process from Strategy to Execution, our governance structure in general or our Human Resource processes. One of the main challenge will be, to establish culture-sensitive practices that help the organization to deliver better value, sooner, safer and happier – as Jon Smart would say it. Since most organization are still at the very beginning of experimenting with agile practices on Enterprise level, we didn’t yet see a huge improvement in the way large, established organizations deliver value to their customers. Thus, deploying respective adapting agile practices in a way, there is a real improvement will be the number one challenge.

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