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Q&A with Liliya Lund

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Liliya Lund, Organizational Agility & Change Management Strategist.

How could you describe your career path in a few words?

Change has been a constant and cherished companion on my career journey.  It all began in a chemistry lab, where I honed my analytical expertise and problem-solving skills. Armed with a doctorate in chemistry, is set forth to change the world by systematically eradicating bacteria from industrial manufacturing processes. Several patents and many happy customers later, I recognized the broader applications of my skills and passion for transformation. This is when I took my love of change out of the lab, and into the world of tech by making a pivot into organizational change management and business transformation. I've embraced roles at Salesforce, VMware, and Cisco Systems, where I've leveraged my analytical acumen to spearhead cultural shifts, boosted organizational agility, and propelled customer-centricity.  My journey has been highlighted by building high performing teams that drive company-wide transformations.  In essence, my career has been a continuous quest to empower individuals and teams to flourish amid change, whether in the chemistry lab or in a corporate setting. 

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

Agility continues to be a hot topic across many industries.  Fluctuations in the market, rise of remote work, and increasing emphasis on customer-centricity are making it necessary for organizations to evolve to be more nimble and responsive. What is becoming obvious is that agile practices are not exclusively applicable to engineering and product development. We are seeing a shift to total business agility.  This means that the entire organization has some level of agile acumen and can apply agile principles in their day-to-day work.  Now we are talking about not just engineering and product, but also sales, HR, support, marketing, learning & development, etc.  When the whole company understands the importance of customer-centricity and knows how to put it into practice, metrics such as revenue, CSAT, and employee satisfaction go up. As organizations experiment, learn, and figure out how to operate in this manner we will start to see a bigger focus on people skills and emotional intelligence when it comes to hiring talent. 

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

I have had the privilege to be a part of and lead portions of Cisco’s CX transformation.  

Cisco's customers preferred the flexibility, predictability, and continuous value optimization offered by leading recurring revenue SaaS providers, and Cisco needed to keep up. The organization had to fundamentally and systematically change its operating culture, ways of working, and structure to align the pace of its legacy hardware approach with the value planning and delivery pace required by the market and all stakeholders' expectations — including customers, partners, employees, and communities, as well as shareholders.

To accomplish these goals, Cisco CX focused on creating a compelling vision, which was brought to life through a value-driven operating model, continuous alignment motions, change effectiveness, operating efficiency, and delivery predictability.  None of these work streams followed a playbook or prescribed methodology.  Instead, the focus was on meeting people where they were, understanding the cultural context of the organization, and crafting practices, rituals, and tools that worked within that environment.  The creation of the CX Cloud Agility Framework became a cornerstone in guiding teams with an end-to-end process flow for value delivery and a commitment to cultivating the right mindset and agile behaviors. 

In 2020, the CX Cloud was successfully launched.  100 customers were onboarded within 2 months, and customer experience continues to be top priority across Cisco CX (now ONeX) organization.  

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

Scaled agile frameworks like SAFe, LeSS, Nexus, among others continue to rise in popularity.  One of the reasons these frameworks are so popular is that they come with an implementation playbook in which the steps to achieve “organizational agility” are very clearly laid out.  It’s a one size fits all model.  Just measure out the ingredients, mix them in a pot, and voila! Instant agility!  

While the intent was to make it easier for organizations to become more customer centric and shorten the time to value realization, a key ingredient continues to be largely overlooked.  It is not the processes, policies, org structures, and playbooks that make organizations agile, it is the culture, mindsets, and behaviors of the employees. Rigid frameworks miss the intent of agility, which is to bring a human element to our work - working together, working with the customer, creating something that is meaningful, delightful, and valuable. 

The challenge moving forward is not which framework to implement, but how to evolve our workforce to embrace empathy, collaboration, and customer-centricity.  If we shift our focus here, our ability to experiment, innovate, and delight our end users will skyrocket.  

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