How to get started on your Agile Transformation journey with Ekipa Consultancy Malaysia

Agile Transformation journey with Ekipa Consultancy



Gretel: Good Morning, or Good Afternoon to you depending on when you are watching this, thank you for joining us – I’d like to start with an Introduction to some of the EKIPA Consultancy team today.

I am Gretel Darby an Agile Consultant and also the lead for our Marketing & Events squad at Ekipa Singapore & Malaysia, 

I have Paul Hutton here the Co-Founder & Principal Consultant at EKIPA Consultancy in Singapore and an experienced Agile Coach and Trainer 

And…… A big Welcome to Amir Yusoff who is our new Country Head for Ekipa Consultancy Malaysia and based in KL. Welcome Amir

Amir: Thank you both Gretel and Paul for having me here, It’s great to be here, to be part of the Ekipa family. I’m Amir Yusoff, recently joined as the Country Manager and one of the Principal Consultants for the Malaysian practice.

Gretel So the purpose for today is to share with you a little about EKIPA Consultancy, what we do and obviously to introduce Amir – So fantastic to have you both here today, thank you 

Gretel: Paul would you like to start with a brief introduction of EKIPA Consultancy

Paul: Yes. Thanks Gretel. Ekipa was launched in Indonesia in 2016 and soon after in Singapore, and then we had most recently started serving clients in Malaysia since last year.

Gretel: So Amir tell me briefly about your career highlights to date?

Amir: Where to start. I began my career nearly 20 years ago with the Malaysia National Oil Company in a Sales role, more recently I undertook a stint with a Big 4 firm with their Malaysian Management Consultancy practice and leading an Agile transformation in a public listed tech company.

But my real passion has always been strategy and helping people solve problems that keep them awake at night. Been here and there with a few Malaysian Government Linked Companies (or GLCs for short) and a few public listed ones too. My focus areas are public sector / GLC transformation, business planning and building capabilities through coaching and mentoring within any company that I work for.

Gretel: What are the challenges you are looking forward to helping clients with, in Malaysia?

Amir: Looking at howOrganizations in Malaysia behave, organizations these companies are starting to recognize Agile as a means to get from “Meh” to “Good”, or from “Good” to “Great”. 

The biggest question for them has always been, “Where do we begin?”. 

Moving to Agile from a legacy organization that is deeply rooted in hierarchy and structure can be tough and daunting. 

I’m here to share with them that it doesn’t have to be that way. All you need is to be open to possibilities, and the tenacity and willpower to make it happen.

Just like going to the gym for the first time, and keep going once you get started. 

You’ll see me use the “gym” analogy quite frequently about building business Agility. 

You can get there by yourself, but it would be easier if you have your own “personal trainer” to accelerate your results, and keep you motivated to drive through the pain barriers.

Gretel : I absolutely agrees Amir and that’s the personal trainer and coach to keep course-correcting some of the things as well

Gretel: Why do you think Agile Ways of Working / Business Agility and Lean business practices are becoming more important in Malaysia now?

Amir: Well Gretel, Malaysia as a business ecosystem is quite a different beast altogether.

So, 90% of registered Malaysian businesses are SMEs, but yet they contribute only 30% to the economy (in contrast, a company.. Uh, a country like Japan has SMEs contributing up to 70% to the economy, and these SMEs are quite “Agile” in how they operate). 

In the new era of Digitalization, the age of Disruptions and in a world of uncertainty, everyone needs to be able to proactively be prepared to respond, pivot and shift when needed and serve their customers better than the next guy. Agility enables this. Agile enables organisations to be adaptive. And that’s what they want to do during these turbulent times

So, My personal aspiration is to make sure that Agility is accessible to as many organizations in Malaysia as possible. So I am looking forward to having a lot of conversation about that

Gretel And Amir – do think there are some specific industries or segments that can benefit the most from implementing an Agile WOW – adaptive ways with here starting their journey?

Amir: At the top of my head, I feel the essential services such as the Banking sector, Telecommunications, and Consumer Goods they stand to benefit the most from being adaptable, due to the nature of how they play or the roles they play in the “New Norm”. 

For Malaysia, the GLCs can also be considered as an “essential organization” so to speak, as they provide key services to keep the country going. So Malaysia stands to benefit the most if they remain competitive and adopt Agile in its most honest form and as fast as possible.

Gretel: Thank you Amir. I think you are absolutely right about this, from my reading and understanding about the Malaysian market and its a really good place to start .

So Paul you’ve been working in or with Agile organisations in Asia Pacific for close to 10 years now based on what Amir has been sharing and your experiences how do you see Agile WOW evolving in Malaysia? 

Paul: Thanks Gretel, I’m very enthusiastic about the possibilities for agile transformation in Malaysia and for Malaysian organizations. And having lived in South East Asia for myself for around 25 years, and in the past doing a lot of work for Malaysian clients during that period of time, I can see so much potential for companies who are open to adopting agile ways of working and becoming more adaptive. In fact, if you look at Malaysia and the agile success stories that have already come out of Malaysia, the one that comes to mind I guess, which is most well known is Grab. Grab is a great story of innovation and disruption. It started.. It had its beginnings as a transportation app called myTeksi. and now has Asia wide presence and has well adapted well beyond transportation industry and quite a few different other industries

Yeah. Its been certainly a pretty successful organisation and really changing the way that the calling a taxi happens and other things you can now get a grab taxi to do. It’s pretty great

Gretel, Amir – going back to those specific Industries, banking and telcos and the GLC’s – What will these organisations stand to lose if an Agile WOW / an Organisation Mindset is not adopted? 

Amir: Thank you for the question Gretel, Ultimately organizations that tend to lose touch with their clients, which will ultimately impact topline and bottomline financials. Adopting Agile forces organisations to remain close to the clients, because they have inbuilt feedback loops. 

You need that.

The other side of the equation includes the government and the ministries itself. The public sector in turn, needs to also embrace Agility, because failure to do so means Malaysia as a country will not be competitive.

Gretel: Paul, building on this what has been in your experience the key motivations for organisations and the people who lead them to embark on an Agile Adoption journey? 

Paul: Right…. There’s two main reasons why any organisation would want to adopt agile ways of working:

  • is as a response to their industry being disrupted, For example, like, a company like Grab coming into the transportation industries or food industries or banking and we see examples of that now in banking and other financial services like insurance, and the other reason is
  • simply digital transformation, and the efficiencies that digital transformation can bring to almost any industry.

Gretel – And Paul What do you think some of the big changes are that are important to be considered early for an organisation wanting to undergo agile transformation?

Paul: I see there are a couple of key success factors here Gretel and the first one is

 Why is it critical to your business, why do you need to change or transform? and what are the benefits of doing this – for example being able to adapt your business to be more effective in solving the problems of your customers, often via better use of technology.

Secondly, making sure that everyone in the organisation who is involved in or impacted by the transformation are aware of what’s going on, and WHY. The best way to address this is rolling out an awareness and education program for those groups, so that they can understand and support the initiative. If you look at the most successful transformation examples, they have also engaged ongoing support in the form of coaching the teams and the leadership through the transformation journey.

Gretel: And I assume Ekipa Consultancy can help with this?

Paul: Yes, Ekipa has an experienced team of Agile Consultants & Coaches who can help you get started – both at a leadership and team level, we provide coaching and training that an organisation needs, as well as certification and development of agile competency within your organisation.

Gretel and Amir you are a certified HRDF Trainer and EKIPA Malaysia is also pleased to advise we are a HRDF registered training provider. – Amir – What does this mean for Malaysian companies? 

Amir: Yes I am a certified HRDF trainer as is Paul. Ekipa is also HRDF registered, so makes Agile training and adoption a viable option for most organizations in Malaysia if you contribute to the fund.

Gretel – So Amir if I am working at a company that wants to understand better how to get started with successfully Adopting Agile Ways of Working – What do I need to do?

Amir: There’s a few basic things we can do. We need to look at Mindset, Capabilities and some form of Planning to get us there.

When we talk about Mindset, we talk about core principles:

  • Working Iteratively and Bite-Size Planning to re-adjust ourselves instead of an Annual “all in one” planning, which tends to over-analyze things that might happen over one year
  • Work as a cross functional teams instead of  within Silo’s and Hierarchies that inhibit speed
  • Work towards building a High Trust, Self Organising Teams instead of Command & Control – low Trust environments – these inhibits ownership – saya yang menurut perintah
  • Always think about your customers and be value driven  over Internally Focused Profit driven
  • And lastly, Measuring & Rewarding Outcomes over Outputs

In terms of steps:

  • We should start by taking stock of where we are by looking at our Agile Maturity – to determine our knowledge and competency level
  • Roadmap our way towards Agility
  • And develop Actionable plans to get us there

And if this feels too much at the moment, we are happy to meet to discuss over a casual cup of coffee to introduce Agile and discuss more about those core mindset principles first.

Gretel to Amir –

Thank you so much for your time today

Any last tips you might like to add here? 

Amir: If ever there was one advice that I would like to give, it would be Agile principle #10 which is: Simplicity–the art of maximising the amount of work not done–is essential.

Gretel to Amir –

Just before we finish – can you share a couple of fun facts about yourself?

  • What is your favourite dessert? – Amir: Being a Malaysian, it has to be Durians – Musang King for the win, and you can’t call yourself a Malaysian if you don’t like it. Although Honey Jackfruit is a close second.
  • The saying that you say most frequently / your mantra and why? Amir: I’d have to quote the Wise One for this: “Do or Do Not; there is no try”
  • Finally your favourite movie? Amir: You might expect me to say Star Wars, but, I’d say “Invictus” actually – the rugby movie with Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman

Well thank you so much for your time today Amir & Paul, and if anybody has any questions or further insights, please feel free to contact Amir, Paul or myself info@ekipa.my

Or go to our website at Ekipa.my

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