Agile can be such a confusing word at times. It means many things to many people. To the project managers and business analysts, it is a methodology and framework to deliver new technologies in a controlled, but flexible manner. For senior executives, it means being able to adapt to shocks and changes in the market and drive continual success. Further still, for managers, it brings a sense of capability that allows their staff to be agile with respect to working patterns whilst maintaining productivity. So, which is it? Well, all three, as it happens.
Success in any modern organisation is all about one word. Value. To deliver value, there needs to be a mindset across the whole organisation to embrace agile principles. Change is now a constant in all our lives, so we must be prepared to embrace it. Traditional thinking places change as a singularity, only to be opened when there is a marked shift either in technology or business practices. Whilst this may give a sense of complete control, it often doesn’t protect either the people or the bottom line. Therefore, change must be continuous and form an intrinsic part of working life. Where an organisation has a compelling vision that everyone shares, the agile mindset is easier to achieve. It is much more difficult to adapt, when individuals who identify opportunities to add value become entrenched in cumbersome processes that prevent the rapid seizure of the opportunity. To become agile, therefore, requires clear, accountable roles within the organisation, empowering teams and individuals to identify and act upon these opportunities. This in turn, drives a learning culture, where performance is measured on the ability to add value as opposed to just performing the day job.
Enter technology. The accelerating digitisation of the technology base opens significant opportunities for organisations to continually evolve and adapt. The co-creation of value is an important aspect of agile thinking, binding business teams with that of strong IT capabilities to drive rapid, compartmentalised change. When taken singularly, this may not achieve much. However; when all teams are rapidly evolving their business processes, customer interactions and ways of working, value creation becomes an entrenched aspect of day to day working life. In this context, Agile project delivery methods allow teams to deliver value early and often. Where an organisation fully embraces agile thinking, everyone adds value. In today’s environment, organisations and individuals are continually challenged to adopt more flexible, responsive services. In achieving this, there must obviously be some control in how this is achieved. From idea to release, an embedded agile delivery mechanism that offers flexibility for the team, under a set of guiding principles is an essential component to drive success.
At the executive level, constant change across the organisation allows the business to adapt quickly to wider changes in the market. Driving success towards a singular, shared vision by empowering teams to adapt and continually evolve creates a buffer to any major shocks or challenges. Value creation therefore becomes relentless, as teams identify new opportunities, working with others across the organisation to adapt and embed change. For managers, this flexibility helps to embrace and retain talent, as value creation becomes the norm. This gives employees a sense that their contribution is appreciated and unlocks the hidden talent that exists in all social constructs. Allowing all employees to ascertain the health of their individual workspace allows teams to alter their perception of the value they bring, preparing the ground for mindset shift towards agility.
Agility and flexibility are key components to surviving in todays challenging environment. Economic and political shocks should not drive fear. Rather, they should be embraced as opportunities to continually evolve and adapt. Digital transformation allows entire organisations to embrace modern technology, supporting customer interactions or delivering deeper insights into performance. Driving success continually at the team level through digital technologies to meet a shared vision increases value creation, when guided by core principles. Therefore, digital transformation should be embedded across the whole organisation, not just as a singular change cycle.