Are you also considering changing things up and becoming an agile organisation? While Agile is a bandwagon that everyone is jumping onto, with the framework proven to be successful for many organisations, the journey to agility isn’t that easy. It’s not only about adopting a framework, but it also requires important behavioural and attitudinal changes that sometimes are overlooked. Below are a few words of wisdom for those starting their journey to agility.
01 – Lead from the Top
Without the support from leadership, it is difficult to transform to an agile organisation. Both the understanding and aspiration to agility need to be jointly-owned by the team and its leaders. Have a common goal, and create a plan that provides a clear vision and design of how a new agile operating model might work. Alignment between the leadership and the team is key to becoming (more) agile. And if you don’t know where to start, why not reach out to other tech companies or organisations that have successfully adopted agile. Spend time with them and learn how they have started their agile journey.
02 – Embrace Change
Agile embraces change and accepts the fact that literally anything can happen. The agile mindset, instilled in the organisation, will view these changes as opportunities to learn and grow. Any plans created will be seen as a minimum viable product that is flexible to change and allows for continuous improvement.
Yet, as the organisation grows, it is perfectly possible that you could face resource challenges resulting in lesser time available for innovation or those continuous improvements. Here, leaders will play an important role in maintaining a balance between running the business and putting aside a time buffer for continuous innovation and improvement.
03 – Don’t try to be perfect
Agile emphasises creating the most value within the shortest time, which also explains why sprints generally are between 2–4 weeks. But often the perfectionist in us would take over and would like for our product to be perfect before being brought to market. You might end up missing the boat then. So rather than trying to perfect things, experiment, get feedback and improve. Make that your mantra.
But with so much going on and many new initiatives you plan to launch, how should you choose where to invest your time and resources? A good option is to look at the 20% of your business that account for 80% of the value. Prioritising this 20% to ensure the value from the work is delivered more effectively so as to optimise the returns.
04 – Overcome the Fear of Failure
Experimentation is a key part of agility. This also means accepting that not every idea will work. An agile mindset will allow you to learn and move on from failures. One might argue that this is unacceptable because it’s a waste of time and resources. But the reality is every failed attempt is a learning opportunity and will benefit the organisation in the long run. If we were to fail, we would like to fail early and move on.
05 – Be Customer-Centric
Many organisations are too fixated with improving their internal capabilities that they lose track of the true north. Regardless of what we do, the business needs to be equipped to respond to changing customer needs. Data on customers and their journeys should be available through the organisation, so that adjustments can be frequently made to ensure that the structure is right for the market. Agile requires data. That’s also why agile advocates for bringing to markets quickly. The feedback from customers, and other touch point data will allow us to improve or even pivot. With this approach, you will build the right – but may not be perfect – product for your customers.
06 – Be Honest and Engaged in Retrospective
Agile is built on top of empirical data, with an emphasis on data. Provide a framework to make continuous improvements as part of your day-to-day activities. But in order to achieve that, allow your teams to reflect, review progress. One such way is through the sprint retrospective: reviewing existing approaches, identifying impediments, so as to inspect areas of improvement and adapt their ways of working to make future sprints better.
So create an environment that your team can take time to honestly and openly reflect, review, discuss and celebrate the small wins. You can start with a few simple questions such as:
- What is going well?
- Where can we improve?
- What is slowing us down?
- What is next for us?
Making an organisation agile is a journey that involves a lot of experimenting. It’s inevitable to face obstacles along the way, it’s the mindset that determines the success of the transformation.
Written by Melvin Sng, Scrum Master (PSMI), Project Management Office.