Agility has most definitely been the buzz word for several years, with organisations from just about every sector from fashion to pharmaceuticals citing this as part of their strategy. Recent global events such as Brexit and the Covid pandemic seem to have added fuel to the fire, however, achieving the benefits from Agile transformation remains the challenge.
In this article we’ll explore what is meant by agility in the workplace, why the benefits are often not achieved and how this situation can be turned around.
Firstly, what is agility? Put simply, it is the ability to respond to changing demand whilst controlling risk. Put into that context, it becomes clear why major events (Brexit, Covid) can be catalysts to organisations in their quest for agility.
Benefits & challenges
There is however more to agility than just responding to these major situations. Agile approaches thrive on incremental change and mastering this enables a whole host of other benefits. Increased value (more for less), outcomes better suited to our customer needs, greater predictability and increased quality are examples of what can be achieved. The challenge in obtaining these is that the transformation must be done properly!
This sounds obvious, however, organisations frequently start transformation without having a good understanding of what they need to do, or how to go about it. Symptoms of this are focusing on new roles, frameworks, process or tools whilst forgetting that those are the enablers for wider cultural change. “We’ve got Coaches, Stand Ups, Sprints and JIRA so we must now be agile, right?” Wrong! The issue isn’t that the wrong framework has been chosen or that “Agile just doesn’t work for us”, the issue is often one of understanding how to change, coupled with willingness to change.
Learning to be agile
At this stage it’s important to talk about empiricism. As an agile approach looks to develop incremental change, we will learn things. We’ll learn about both what we are doing (is it the right thing?) and we will learn about how we are doing it (are we as effective as we can be?). Popular Agile frameworks, such as Scrum, look to maximise this learning whilst giving the opportunity to improve. This constant inspection and adaptation will ultimately lead us to doing the right thing in the most effective way. This will be a major enabler for the benefits.
In order to start your Agile transformation, or course correct one that is struggling or not achieving the outcomes you were hoping for, professional knowledge is required. Agility is not as simple as putting in a new process and there is no silver bullet; hard work will be required. We turn to professionals in other aspects of life when we wish to learn (driving lessons, music lessons) or improve (football coaching, golf lessons) so why wouldn’t we turn to a qualified professional to learn or improve Agility?
This guest blog post was written by Jim Hosier, one of our preferred Agile and Scrum trainers.
Having worked extensively with Jim over the past few years; his training always delivers a perfect combination of agile business experience with practical and engaging workshops.
As a member of Scrum.org (the home of Scrum), along with a wealth of experience in actual delivery across a breadth of industries; Jim has both the success stories and the scars to help you succeed with your Agile transformation.
To discuss this blog in more detail, explore your current agile status or next steps with Jim please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.