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As OZ Minerals enters an exciting new growth phase, SECORA is helping its management team embed an AGILE culture across its operations to help sharpen its competitiveness in a disruptive global economy

With robust growth expected to materialize from ambitious new mining exploration opportunities, OZ Minerals has enlisted SECORA to help it realign its operations with AGILE values and practices.

Australia’s third-largest copper producer, OZ Minerals was formed in 2008 by the merger of two Australian non-ferrous metals mining businesses, Oxiana and Zinifex. A listed entity with a market capitalization of A$3 138m, OZ Minerals is primarily based in South Australia, but with global production (both open pit and underground) across multiple sites. These include one of Australia’s largest copper-gold resources at Carrapateena, the copper-gold mine at Prominent Hill, and assets in Brazil.

In 2011, OZ Minerals acquired the Carrapateena iron-oxide copper gold deposit, located about 130km north of Port Augusta in South Australia.  With above ground construction nearing completion and over 100 000t of development ore already stockpiled, the project is expected to deliver its first saleable copper ore in November 2019.

In 2012, OZ Minerals expanded its Prominent Hill operation to include underground mining at the Ankata mine and in 2015, a second underground mine, Malu Underground, was commissioned.  In July 2015, OZ Minerals relocated its corporate headquarters to Adelaide. 

As Australia’s third largest copper producer, with quality assets, a positive cash balance and no debt, OZ Minerals has reached a critical turning point in its history and looking to sharpen its competitive differentiation.

To help it build an AGILE business, and continuously tap actionable data insights for decision-making across the enterprise, OZ Minerals turned to SECORA to help it navigate the often difficult transition to agility.  This includes helping it re-shape its business model, embedding AGILE management and technical practices across its divisions, and adopting new AGILE tools while using existing tools in an AGILE manner.

AGILE’S purpose

AGILE provides companies with a guiding framework on how to manage teams throughout organizations, regardless of function, department, industry or product.

Originally conceived for use in the software industry, AGILE has since branched out into other areas, including mining, as a way to streamline operations.

The main purpose of AGILE is to:

  • Embed a mindset of the way its people work, and how they work with each other
  • Entrench an understanding that success or failure depends on leadership
  • Break silo thinking and encourage co-creation

Especially in the mining sector where change is slow and difficult to implement, AGILE gives senior management the model, methodology and enabling tools to support business transformation.

According to Sean Rast, founder and managing partner of SECORA, AGILE addresses the central challenge facing business today: how to provide instant, intimate, seamless value at scale. 

“The AGILE mindset is about generating more value with less work, and working smarter, rather than harder.” He points out that “AGILE enables organizations to absorb continuous change and flourish in a world that’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.  The aim is to create a flexible organization with the capacity and capability to rapidly adapt, so it can steer itself in new directions and thrive in an evolving environment.” In summary, he says: “The end goal is to have larger companies think, act, and react as small companies do, and to give them a platform to be as nimble as small companies.”

In contrast to traditional management approaches, AGILE seeks to:

  • Enable the workforce to focus on the result rather than formal processes
  • Create an environment which promotes and encourages teamwork
  • Satisfy the customer through early, continuous delivery
  • Continuously demonstrate technical excellence
  • Address specific organization inefficiencies
  • Maintain a sustainable pace indefinitely
  • Minimize handovers and bureaucracy
  • Spread knowledge
Satisfying the customer through early, continuous delivery lies at the heart of AGILE - SECORA

“Many companies believe their focus has to be on ‘doing’ AGILE, when in fact AGILE is something they need strive to be,” notes Rast.

Satisfying the customer through early, continuous delivery lies at the heart of AGILE

Premised on five key pillars – strategy, structure, process, people and technology – AGILE is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model with cookie-cutter approaches.  Instead, four core values guide the AGILE mindset, in that it:

  • Prioritizes people (individuals and interactions) over processes and tools
  • Focuses on working solutions over excessive paper shuffling
  • Responds to change rather than following a plan
  • Enables customer collaboration over rigid contracts

“The highest priority,” declares the 2001 AGILE Manifesto, “is to satisfy the customer.”

AGILE success measurements

The hallmarks of an AGILE company include:

  • Shorter customer response times with on-time delivery and quick reliable results
  • Higher productivity, product quality, reliability and predictability
  • Ability to cope with changing environments
  • Focuses on “end-to-end” solutions
  • Uses current available resources
  • Cross-pollination of knowledge

Reinventing business culture

AGILE provides the catalyst that helps companies reinvent their business culture, which is typically shaped by an organization’s leadership, what they value, what they say and most importantly, what they do.

In this context, an AGILE organization embodies the following principles:

  • At regular intervals, the team reflects and tunes behavior
  • Collaborate with mutual accountability and respect
  • Multidisciplinary/cross-functional teaming
  • Convey info via face-to-face conversation
  • Move from “my job” to “my role”
  • Continuous information-sharing
  • No one is better than the other
  • Job satisfaction / engagement
  • Flatter management

AGILE’S core hierarchical characteristics

A common misunderstanding of AGILE organizations is that they’re necessarily flat or non-hierarchical.

Unlike that typically found in a bureaucracy, an AGILE organization is a hierarchy of competence, not authority.    Performance is measured not on whether you’ve pleased your boss, but rather, on whether you’ve added value to your customer.

AGILE has three enabling core characteristics:

  • The Law of the Customer
  • The Law of the Network
  • The Law of Small Teams

The Customer

AGILE practitioners are obsessed with delivering more value to customers.  They have a clear line of sight to the ultimate customer and can see how their work is adding value to that customer—or not.  In AGILE organizations, there’s not only a customer focus, but customer involvement in decision-making.

Small Teams

In AGILE organizations, work is done in small autonomous cross-functional teams working in short cycles on relatively small tasks and getting continuous feedback from the ultimate customer or end user.

The Network

AGILE practitioners view the organization as a fluid and transparent network of players that are collaborating towards a common goal of delighting customers.

Five trademarks of an AGILE organization

  • True North is embodied across the organization, with a shared purpose and vision, actionable strategic guidance, and flexible resource allocation, as it senses and seizes opportunities.
  • Network of empowered teams, with a clear, flat structure and accountable roles, hands-on governance, servant leadership, robust communities of practice, and active partnerships.
  • Rapid decision-making and learning cycles, with standardized ways of working operating in parallel with robust experimentation.
  • Dynamic people model that ignites passion, rewards entrepreneurial drive and drives role mobility
  • Enabling technology that taps next generation technology architecture, systems, and tools

Founded by Dr. Sean Rast in 2001, SECORA is a global consulting company that helps organizations of 50 to 80 000 employees across the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia optimize their efficiency through process streamlining, effective strategy, risk reduction and quality advancement initiatives.

Propelled by its guiding motto “Do the right things effectively rather than the wrong things efficiently”, SECORA has developed its own bespoke methodologies to accelerate operational distinction through process streamlining and optimization, Lean and CIP implementations, project and launch management, organizational transformation, restructuring and sustainability, and supply chain development.

“We pride ourselves in being able to break down complex issues into manageable, solvable, and sustainable solutions,” explained Rast.

To find out how SECORA can further help you improve processes, reduce waste, and increase market share, check out our offering at SECORA.