8 Ways To Keep Your Organization Agile
8 Ways To Keep Your Organization Agile
Agility is catching fire, and there is growing recognition of its transformational benefits. But moving to an agile operating model is tough, especially for established companies. There are several paths to agility and many different starting points, yet successful agile transformations all share the common elements described in this article.
Keyword(s): agile, digital transformation
Agile isn't only for tech firms, any organization can use agility to springboard their growth. Organizations with an agile culture that embraces and adapts to change, can turn uncertainty into opportunity and flourish when other companies fail.
More than 90 % of agile respondents say that their leaders present actionable strategic guidance; that they've established a shared vision and purpose; and that people in their unit are entrepreneurial (in other words, they proactively pursue and identify opportunities to develop of their daily work). More than 80 % of agile respondents say their corporations' new services and products are developed in close interaction with clients and that concepts and prototypes are field-tested early in the development process, so units can rapidly collect data on potential improvements.
Based on the survey, the most important challenges during agile transformations are cultural-specifically, the misalignment between agile methods of working and the daily requirements of individuals's jobs, a lack of collaboration across levels and units, and employee resistance to changes.
Here are 8 ways your organization can become more agile by adopting the following agile thinking and tools:
1. Develop a shared vision
Teams need a compelling, achievable objective. The objective must have a sense of urgency as well as being meaningful-something that actually matters to the group and to the team. It should also be within the realms of possibility that the group can succeed-'solve world conflict' just isn't inspiring because groups know it is beyond their capabilities. All objectives should be mapped back to the required business outcomes that you identified. If you identified the need as 'to go faster' then the group would begin investigating the full breadth of that, analyzing areas for enchancment in speed in order to identify meaningful objectives and investigate practices which may help. That's why it's also important to make clear the place the team's boundaries lie. Most speed features are made not in the software engineering part of the process, however at 'the fuzzy front end' or in testing and integration-if you exclude such areas from the group's remit then your results might be equally limited.
2. Run sprints, not marathons
Traditional project management approaches are likely to try and fix the solution from the beginning and deliver by working one long slow marathon of work to achieve the aim, the route is set and inflexible, and sadly as like actual marathons, some never finish and exhaust themselves attempting. Agile in contrast look at the project as a series of short sprints, every sprint is often between 1-3 weeks, work is scheduled in for the period and at the end of the sprint, there's time to catch your breath, reflect on performance, consider what's changed and determine the direction the next sprint will take.
3. Embrace Agile
Experience shows that altering a company's ideology or culture can not be achieved by the introduction of methodologies, job descriptions, and decisions or proving to the management with hard financial facts that delighting the customer is more profitable. Instead, to persuade managers to stop appearing like a boss and embrace Agile, there's a need to reach managers at a deeper emotional level via experiences and leadership storytelling that enable them to embrace a special set of attitudes, attachments, values, and understanding about how the world works. The manager must in effect fall in love with the client.
4. Build a team
Most transformations begin with building the top team's understanding and aspirations, making a blueprint to determine how agility will add value, and learning via agile pilots. It sounds obvious, however this is typically where an Agile transformation stumbles before it has even totally begun. Often leaders create groups of people who find themselves keen to change-however who lack real power and real sources. To succeed, a team should be a real working group with correct time to dedicate to change, rather than a steering committee who meet once a quarter for lunch. The team will achieve little if the Agile element is merely added on top of their existing jobs. Proper time and space must be devoted to this, which means freeing individuals from existing commitments. Several levels of the organization should be represented-those who already exert significant power and influence, as well as those with energy and ambition. The relevant expertise from different areas of the business should be gathered together. Be sure not to limit the team only to enthusiasts. One of the best ways to break down barriers is to include people who have the capacity to say no, but whose involvement will help convert them into saying yes.
5. Use leadership tools
Generally, the most fruitful success strategy is, to begin with leadership tools, including stories or vision of the future, cement the change in place with management tools, such as measurement, role definitions, and control systems, and use the pure power tools of coercion and punishments as a last resort, when all else fails.
Developing an Agile firm also requires improved predictability so you can better match demand with capabilities and meet consumer delivery requirements. An agile team values being agile over being amazing, they look to release their work early and gain feedback to enable them to continuously improve and refine the value they deliver and be responsive as markets and customers change and evolve.
6. Delight the customer
Instead of a goal of making money for the organization, the goal of the organization is to delight the customer. Companies that have made the shift to an Agile, client-focused mode of operating generate consistently better results for their clients through continuous innovation and provide meaningful fulfilling work for those doing the work.
7. Remove barriers
Transformations often stumble because in a system-wide approach there will undoubtedly be one or more structural elements which act as blocks. These often feel immovable and are notoriously slow to change. Organizational structures exist for good reasons-and yet they are stopping any progress. In companies where there is a fundamental belief in the effectiveness of the top-down 'the manager is the boss' approach, it's difficult to implement Agile effectively. Instead of work being coordinated by bureaucracy with plans, rules, and reports, work is coordinated by Agile methods with iterative work cycles and direct feedback from customers or their proxy. Instead of one-way top-down commands, communications tend to be in horizontal conversations.
8. Establish the learning
Agile is a learning-based method and builds continuous improvement into our daily workflow, build in slack to enable time to improve and respond to changing circumstances. Agile adds time to reflect, think, and experiment in the process, it provides a structure to make regular small iterative improvements. Agile works by integrating change on a regular basis, whether it is driven by internal or external forces. Agile is a method to support, analyze, manage and improve existing practices within the business. Agile helps to create time to review current approaches and identify the blocks, bottlenecks, and issues that limit the enterprise. Agile helps teams to optimize and improve their working practices through learning and reflection.
Quick wins usually are not primarily about generating support, though they often do. They are opportunities to evaluate your course. Real projects with real results (increasing value, flow or quality) are the most valuable feedback to help you frame future decisions. A change project which only trumpets successes and hides failures is not encouraging risk-taking, it is stifling it-and putting more blocks in the path of true change.
Any successful agile transformation will invariably establish a capability accelerator to reorganize and retrain staff, make the agile idea common to all, and develop the right skills across the organization. The idea is to allow it to more successfully and quickly adapt to a changing environment, constantly improve, innovate at a faster rate, and thus better meet customer requirements. An agile transformation fundamentally changes the way work is done and, therefore, blueprinting also needs to identify changes to the processes, people, and technology elements of the operating model. For more information regarding project management tips, contact us.