Eight is my lucky number
What does Agile really mean? For lots of organisations really believe they are agile, fluid in their execution of change. You might be surprised to learn that many organisations are considered regressive when it comes to how agile they really are, back in 2011 when employees went on Agile courses and came back to base they found that 93% of them failed to get agility to stick. Of course that is improving.
Some are too dogmatic in process, too much control thinking that degrees of control are where the value and outcomes are rather than realising the true intentional benefits. The organisation resources have to pull together in the same direction. If they don’t, then write agility off. You need to counsel staff and resources to work in a different way, team work through enhanced, visible and predictable collaboration. If there are disrupters then buy them a coffee and have a chat, if that doesn’t work, find them something else to do to allow the agile ambassadors to make a difference in your organisation.
1) Demonstrate the right leadership behaviours
Your leadership style to the demands of any scenario has to be adaptable, be good at pointing the tiller the other way when a strong gust of despair hits the team. Your attention spanning needs to be fluid and diverse with an ability to figure today’s, tomorrow’s and the futures priorities for you, the organisation and the team. Be enthusiastic, talk goals and objectives daily, talk about the outcomes that are being actively pursued and keep this fresh in everyone’s mind. Your the leader, behave as you want others too!
2) Be responsive
Figure out what you are here in the organisation, what are all these people who work this company here for? You will soon find the answer, for the customer, the patients? You will be working in a particular sector or market, that will have its own challenges with regulatory affairs, bottom line demands and so on, but don’t take your eye off the innovation ball, when organisations have the leading competitive edge on a product or service it’s because they encouraged that grass root inside, they welcome and applaud innovation, that’s the right energy and enthusiasm for any organisation. All members of your team must be responsive, it’s a fundamental principle of being agile, Make responsiveness one of your core values and measure the performance uplift, if not in immediate dollar signs then in staff satisfaction, retention and talent advocacy to recruiters.
Too many times have I witnessed leaders who love their own voice. I watch the jaws clenching in the audience to hold back the mega yawn. Listen, we are human, we have that as a core competence in our build and make up. Listenting to a problem, using you and your teams analytical skills, you will not see issues but opportunities. This is agile in its best form, the captain then has the tiller pointing in the problem solution direction. Just try this, listen to your service departments, functions, customers frustrations and use your team to focus on value. Do something about it, but it starts with Listenting and observing.
4) Know your Market
Many will think this is the role of the marketing, comms and sales team. Wrong, to be a performer in your organisation and to advocate and truly champion required change in the direction necessary for survival of the fittest you all need to be aware of your market, it doesn’t need to be in great detail, but knowing your companies markets, threats and strategies will help everyone filter and focus on what really matters. I do filter and focus sessions, these help distill down disctractions, distractions that are a legitimate concern, by constraining our ability and agility to deliver value as some in the organisation may believe what they are working on is the most important thing for the company, until someone guides them to the contrary of course, using our responsiveness technique.
Markets in which we all operate today are highly competitive, multi continent, technology enabled, born on the web, making it really difficult for traditional organisations to adapt and survive the cost and margin challenges brought about by the competitor landscape, so adapt your organisations culture, get conscious, get market aware.
5) Everyone Crowd Source and Network within
Humans have a great ability to communicate. Let’s not forget that any successful service, product or company will be simply down to their people. The innovation starts there.
Majority of organisations are actually stifled not by their competition, regulators and other external influences, they are seen as irritants, it can be the functions and people in long term established organisations that frustrate and compete with one another in an unhealthy, non productive way. They don’t truly understand each other’s objectives (which should be corporately set and aligned), they don’t see the value chain from customers, patients and others being served by the existence of them and the wider organisation. A great way to overcome this is for organisations to setup a linked in type network internally (if your interested I can help with a few suggestions). This really helps to build collaboration, oils the functioning of your organisation, its ability to be agile and work together to respond to threats and opportunities. Crowd source solutions to problems within your organisation.
Do it today not tomorrow, what I do today, we benefit tomorrow. Really works. It will diversify your workforce and drive innovation with sheer enthusiasm
6) Focus on culture
So what is culture? Culture to an organisation is as a personality is to a person. And yes they can be great, and truly awful! But recognising that a culture that needs change and isn’t sustainable for your business is the first milestone to making the difference your organisation needs.
Agility failures in organisations are largely down to a culture that doesn’t want it, perhaps actively resists it. Know who these people are, if you don’t change their mindset then you might as well leave the agility bus parked up in the lay by. If you would like more on culture initiatives just reach out to Michael who can help.
7) Share your meaning of agility
You don’t want staff and others to think that agile is just another management buzz word. Blended with your burn up and burn down charts. Absolutely not.
For most it’s not an evolution but a revolution that is required for survival, we need to survive so we must be agile. An internal drive to share your meaning of what agility means to your business is crucially important. In essence it’s the following;
PROCESS – Behaviours in undertaking them and the what and how
ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES – the who does it and where it is done
CULTURE – the values and beliefs and why
8) Make it fun to be part of the agility
Going from world of doctrines, old hat processes and form filling just because that’s how we have always done it to a world of free thinking, innovation, reward and just do it can be frightening for many people.
Humans are again infallible, mistakes happen, people are habitual and will naturally ask you to follow an old process. But instead they need reminding, that we no longer do it that way because! Because is important, giving the freedom to pragmatically challenge one another is healthy and actively adopts the agile behaviours. If you are disposing, evolving, revolutionising processes, and you find that they are still being called out by certain functions as the right and proper way to conduct your business, then have a yellow and red card system. It’s really great fun to have a visible, transparent system, intended to be fun but also focus in a gamified way. It really gets all in the value chain focussed why we are here and doing what matters and no more. Helps get your organisation leaner in terms of your operation
These are not intended to be a full list of disciplines and doctrines associated to agility in organisations but from my experience are some of the most powerful fundamentals. If you would like to discuss some or need help with an initiative, or just have a chat then please get in touch. If you have some experiences of your own then please share them here.