While it was once just considered a methodology in software development, an Agile approach is something that can benefit organizations in all industries. Many organizations have been slowly moving towards a more agile approach for years. However, many businesses have had to embrace this rapid approach much faster than they planned to due to COVID-19 sweeping across the world.
Inculcating Agile Culture: Key Considerations for Organizational Transformation
Seen as an agile practice, businesses seemed to respond faster when faced with a crisis (like the global pandemic), and there are clear benefits that come with adopting the methodology. Agile businesses were able to cope better and adapt to the changing conditions faster than other organizations – giving them an advantage.
Since the Manifesto for Agile Software Development (MASD) was created in 2001, more businesses have started to apply agile practices and processes. It is no longer just a methodology used in software development.
Agile has evolved massively over the past few decades into a much broader set of values, which can add value to organizations across all domains.
Here are some ways an agile mindset can add value:
Effective organizational structure
In agile organizations, you will find a greater emphasis on teamwork rather than the traditional work hierarchy. It encourages the breakdown of silos within organizations to enable flexible, cross-functional teams. These teams report to the manager, thereby creating a solid network of teams.
With clear goals and standard processes, each team knows what is expected of them and has a specific role within the organization. Not only this but implementing cross-functional teams provides members with the opportunity to expand their skills beyond their areas of expertise.
Efficiency and continuous improvement
The agile methodology revolves around quick decision-making and experimentation, standardized work processes, transparency, and continuous learning.
The agile mindset requires organizations to work in quick cycles that enable them to adapt quickly to any changes or disruptions. It also encourages teams to continue to improve how they work together. This enables agile teams to come up with better working strategies to improve their processes and output.
Deliver greater value
In an agile culture, there is a massive focus on creating and delivering value. As such, the approach is very customer-centric. Agile organizations aim to meet and exceed the exact needs of consumers throughout every stage of the consumer life cycle.
An agile methodology helps to focus efforts on the tasks that matter. By creating this alignment to focus on specific objectives, organizations can deliver greater value. In turn, this leads to happier clients and increased profits. In fact, organizations that implement an agile strategy can see an increase in profit growth (goremotelydotnet) of up to 60%!
When thinking about the people within an agile organization, there is a big emphasis on creating a cohesive and collaborative community. As mentioned, the agile approach promotes cross-functional teams, which facilitates greater role mobility. Team members can broaden their skill sets and learn valuable knowledge from one another.
This collaborative, flexible work environment drives employees to be innovative and try new things. Agile creates engaged and empowered teams, who then work harder and are more productive. They can then create and deliver more value for the business.
6 Guidelines to Transition to Agile and Improve Your Probability of Success
Transitioning to an agile organizational model is more than simply implementing a few new processes. It requires a complete shift in mindset and organizational structure. So, here are six important guidelines that can help you instill agile in your organization.
1. Have a compelling reason to change.
Having a good reason to switch to a more agile approach is the most crucial part of your organization’s transition. It’s the basis on which you can measure your success or failure.
Every single person within your organization must understand why you are transitioning to a more Agile culture. In turn, this helps them to understand why they need to change how they work and how their mindset needs to shift. By explaining the benefits of agile, your employees can make a stronger commitment to adopting the approach.
Many people will not change their behavior without a solid reason that is relevant to them specifically. So, make sure they understand how an agile culture will affect and benefit them.
2. Publicize management commitment to change.
It is essential that there is publicized support from the top level of your organization. This will create a ripple effect throughout the organization as people take lead from those at an executive level. Having the leaders of an organization encourage the move to agile enforces the importance of the shift.
As such, it fosters a greater degree of commitment to the transition.
By providing a comprehensible explanation behind the change and combining it with good support, you can motivate your employees to embrace it.
Make sure that you actively keep track of this change regularly to reinforce it and make sure your workforce continues to adopt the new ways of working. If it is seen as just a fad to management, your employees won’t take it as seriously. As such, they won’t make a concerted effort toward embracing it.
So, management needs to get behind agile fully as they are who the teams look up to for support. If management does not support it, then there may be people who don’t see its value and perceive it as meaningless. You need to ensure that all employees know that management is completely behind the change to agile.
3. Address all the areas of change.
You should be as upfront and straightforward with every member of the organization as you can. In this way, you will be able to address all areas of change. Everyone will be more confident and receptive to the change if they know exactly what is going to happen and why.
You also run less of a risk of failing if you address all the areas of change. You can see where the most amount of change will happen and what you need to focus on more. Addressing all the areas of change means that you are prepared for anything that may happen and promotes a more open environment.
4. Map your approach.
You should always map out your agile approach clearly. This can help provide clarity and actionable steps to your entire organization. Mapping everything out helps to align your strategy and make sure that each step takes you closer to the main objectives. It enables you to clearly see the direction your project is going.
In addition, everyone can see the plan so they become more aware of what is going to happen and how it will happen. This encourages them to be more receptive to the changes that need to be made.
Mapping your approach means that you can organize your continuous improvement efforts. It also provides a safe way to run experiments and learn from them. Overall, it enables you to visualize the move toward Agile better.
5. Motivate the team.
It is critical that your team members are completely committed to adopting an agile approach and mindset. So, you need to make an effort to clearly communicate with them and ensure they understand why the transition is beneficial for them specifically.
Some team members may be more resistant to change than others. The best way to encourage them to support the shift is to illustrate the advantages of agile through success. To demonstrate successfully to your team, try to achieve some small, quick wins as you begin to adopt the approach.
6. Redefine accountability.
Instead of recognizing individual work, you need to hold teams accountable for their success. Agile requires a shift in mindset from working as individuals to working effectively in cross-functional teams.
By redefining accountability, you spread the load over the entire team. They each need to contribute in their own way and work together to complete their work. This puts a greater emphasis on working collaboratively, which is a key principle in Agile.
Ultimately, it improves efficiency and quality of work as everyone has to work together. The team cannot rely on one individual to do all the important work. Rather, they need to communicate and delegate amongst themselves to complete their tasks, thereby creating a more positive and collaborative work culture.
The Bottom Line
To instill an Agile culture, companies need to modify their structures, technologies, processes, and, most importantly, their mindsets. For successful implementation, there needs to be a complete cultural shift.
Today’s environment is pressing organizations to become more Agile as it enables them (and you) to adapt to change quickly. While inculcating it into your organization is a long, continuous process that may require complete restructuring, it is worth it in the long run. Your company will be more resilient and competitive overall.
Image Credit: alexander suhorucov; pexels