About the Author
Katy is an independent marketing consultant and founded Fresh Brew Marketing out of her love for the cuppa. A seasoned marketer, Katy writes for several global publications and provides outsourced marketing services to businesses throughout the UK. She is a keen geocacher and rates running around in city centres dressed in Christmas lights as one of her most successful Social Media campaigns to date.More Content by Katy Roberts
Forget Scrummasters, Sprints and Kanbans: Here's how Agility affects your business most.
The key to becoming completely agile in business is to hire the right people and deploy them in the most effective way. Traditionally, agility has been synonymous with the development and project management functions – where teams of people are able to, at a tap of a coffee cup, switch from one direction to another easily and with confidence, because they have the right structural foundation that allows them to do so – and which keeps them compliant to the core vision of the team (or in this case, the business).
But what happens when agility stretches further than just the development power house of an organisation? Well, that’s when the Agile Development Methodology teach us a whole lot more about managing change, than simply what feature to release in the next software patch.
The Manifesto for Agile Software Development is based on 4 key primary concerns which drives all development practice using this method. And when you take a step back as a business leader, and consider the same approach for the greater strategic impact of your business, it directly rings true to what your strategic outlook is challenged with today.
1. Individuals and Interactions more than processes and tools
This is where it gets interesting. In an Agile development environment, self-organisation and motivation are critical. Everyone has a part to play and everyone contributes to the bigger picture. If one team member drops the ball, his accountability is to the team and together, they resolve any issues that arise. They are all united in the same purpose. In an agile development world, communication is fundamental – it is better to have a team of good developers who communicate well, than a team of experts in their field who work in isolation. And this should be no different to each individual function in your business. From your Finance team to your HR team, each one has a critical role to play to contribute to your one core strategy. Each should have a valid seat at the boardroom table, and each should be able to demonstrate value. Because of the communication that builds trust, you, as an organisation are able to take new risks, adapt to new technology, try new sales techniques, confidently – because you are united, as a team, towards a single goal.
2. Working Software more than comprehensive documentation
Consider yourself in a business meeting with a client. You’re asked to present a feature of your business. You, more than likely, would prefer to demo a system to give them a first-hand experience of how you are able to help them. You’d probably agree that being able to give them a demonstration of your system is more effective than a simple Powerpoint slide deck filled with lovely pictures and far too many words. Now, imagine that same scenario but try and demonstrate your system when it doesn’t work. Awkward? Probably. In the same way, the ability to become agile becomes less focussed on the massive load of process documentation, and more on the core business strategy working, and being worked on by an effective team. Where traditionally organisations may have been too focussed on documenting, analysing, assessing a process in minute detail, they risked losing the buy-in of their employees and teams simply because of a loss of interest. An agile business is one that simply works, understands the core fundamentals that they need to be able to grow and be successful, and have buy in that attention is focussed on the right things, and by the right people.
3. Customer Collaboration more than contract negotiation
In a development environment, the business is the customer and the fundamental basis of the agile approach is to involve the “Customer” into your development at various phases of the process. The relationship becomes collaborative and healthy. There is a sharing of resource and insight with 1 consistent goal in plan: achieving a targeted success. Now, let’s take a look at that from the business point of view. We are no stranger to the Sharing Economy, the Internet of Things, Collaborative Working (look at WeWork, RocketSpace and others) – so why should the idea of collaborating with our extended teams, and (dare we say it) our own customers be any more surprising? Becoming agile means having the confidence in your core structure that you are able to engage with your customers in a more mutually beneficial, and healthy way. There is less of the contractual, and more of the collaborative.
4. Responding to Change more than following a plan
Leaving this point until the end was coincidence, but a coincidence that worked beautifully in our favour. The “Business Agility” concept is hardly independent of “Successful Change Management” practice. One simply cannot function without the other. The very definition of Agility is defined by the “ability to move quickly and easily when faced with change”. And with many organisations shying away from change (change in tech, change in workforce, change in economic pressures, change in client demands), never has it been more relevant to develop an agile business practice methodology. Never has it been more relevant to, instead of fear change, embrace it. Never has agility made it more possible for us to be excited about change, and the opportunity to discover new product lines, new territories, new markets.
The beauty of an independent workforce is that, again, by definition, they have become so accustomed to an agile way of working. The core insight and the knowledge they bring from their years of working with organisations just like yours, is empowered by a quick-thinking, flexible, tried-and-tested agility that is able to deliver the very same into your business. If you are ready to test this theory, and experience the beauty of how it delivers success for you, then it’s time for you to talk to us – the Home of Independent Talent.