Without using any special jargon, let’s find out what agility is, why it’s needed, what it consists of, and the tools with which it achieves important goals.
There are fewer and fewer sectors worldwide in which companies exist without competitors on the market. Also, the speed of copying or even plagiarizing products makes it virtually impossible to bring something to market and then rest on your laurels for years to come. Without the ability to quickly adapt to change, surviving in global competition becomes increasingly difficult.
Agility in the Company
Agility is a collective term for various management methods and approaches that…:
- Focus a team on the needs and goals of the customers
- Simplify the organizational structure and processes
- Offer work in short cycles
- Actively use feedback loops
- Expand the powers of employees
- Based on a humanistic approach
- Do not describe an end state, but a way of thinking and living
Not really rocket science, right? Let’s go through the points and see why this is important to be fast and flexible.
Concentration on the needs and goals of the clientele
Companies that focus on customers can meet their needs better than competitors, that should be basic knowledge. But it is more interesting to understand which tools, which tools help to achieve this.
Most importantly, customer centricity must be present not only in the mind of the business owner, but in everyone working to create a product or service in the company. Everyone involved in the process needs to understand who the customer is, what they want, what problems the product solves, what they love, what they fear, and so on. Such a focus allows you as a company to create better solutions for customers. When employees understand the customer’s goals, they often start to come up with wonderful ideas. Joint product development meetings take on a new quality. Colleagues’ ideas are developed and refined, and they complement each other. And of course, later implementation will also be much easier if everyone is on board.
“Tools” for such work in this case are short but intense sessions. These meetings are designed to improve understanding and focus: all meeting participants should understand what they are doing, why they are doing it, and most importantly, why it is important to the customer. In contrast to boring presentations, the workshop format usually guarantees greater involvement and, last but not least, significantly increased motivation for all participants.
Also Read: How To Organize My Company Properly?
Simplification of the structure and process organization
A cornerstone of agility is its extreme simplicity. This means: The organizational structure of the company and the processes by which people work, as well as the rules should be as simple as possible. This allows people to focus on their work, on the value they create, and not on complying with regulations and rules. Great examples of this approach can be found in many teams working with Scrum. Scrum is a project and product management process model and one of the most popular methods of organizing agile workflows. Note:The larger the organization, the greater the advantage of this simplicity, because complexity grows exponentially. And agility is a great way to overcome that complexity, or at least stem its unchecked growth.
Working with short development cycles
In the agile world, it is not common to lock yourself in a workshop for three years to develop something interesting in a quiet little room. The risk is simply very high, spending an incredible amount of energy and time on something that nobody needs. To avoid this, the so-called “iterative approach” is used. In practice this means:
- Work is carried out in small fixed periods of time, such as a period of one, two or four weeks. Important : At the end of each period, there is not just any intermediate result on the way to the final implementation. Rather, a small, slimmed down, but still usable version of the product is created , with which one could already get started.
- Another benefit of this approach, in addition to being able to enter the market early and make changes in the early stages, is the ability to more accurately measure progress in development.
Active, systemic use of feedback
Attention : This point is the most important for each process. It allows you to adapt your work step by step based on the experiences from the feedback loops. This way, errors can be reduced and something useful can be added if necessary.
This applies to any area related to the development of something new. Always work with the help of experiments or trials. Whether rocket technology, aircraft construction, pharmacy, physics, medicine, construction, psychology, economics – in every area, experimentation made sense. Were targeted findings gained from failed experiments that helped to advance the product or the idea…
In any case, agility means a systematic application of this approach: when creating a product – we bring it to market or show it to the customer or run tests and use feedback to correct it. But also in development processes – we “stop” the work at regular intervals in order to analyze the process itself in order to improve it. Losses and problems are eliminated, even helping to build organizational structure and fine-tune relationships within a team.
Empowering employees through agility
Why give more power when you can also give a piece of paper with instructions? There are at least three reasons for this:
- First, people who do mental work don’t like to feel like monkeys—well, robots. That means when we take away a person’s ability to make decisions, we take away the mental work on themselves. And that is definitely demotivating – for most of them anyway….
- Second, we are delegating more responsibility by delegating more powers. People are forced to learn how to make their own decisions and, above all, to take responsibility for their actions. It’s long and tough, but worth it. Rest assured, work doesn’t stop when a self-organizing team encounters an unknown problem – quite the contrary.
- Third, there is still the issue of speed. If a person can solve a problem themselves at one point without asking anyone, this reduces the decision time. You no longer have to forward the question “upstairs” and wait for a response from management. This benefit doesn’t become as apparent when you have only three employees, but when you have 30 or 300 or even 3000 then it becomes a relevant factor. In large organizations that are based on purely hierarchical decision-making, this kind of “sand in the gears” is quite common.
Why shouldn’t it be a question these days? The moral side of this matter is clear, but what benefit does it bring to the owner of the company?
The answer is pretty simple. A motivated person invests more in work, and the result will be faster and better. And in general, a pleasant atmosphere at the workplace contributes to the pleasure of working there – hardly anyone would deny that either.
And the beauty of agile methods is that all the key factors for motivating a person for intellectual and/or creative work are already there. With each iteration, with each “sprint”, a goal is set that the whole team wants to achieve. So it also has the opportunity to decide how exactly the goal should be achieved. At the end of this sprint, the team looks at what has become better or worse than before. In this way, people work more confidently and happily. The bottom line is that happier people work better, and agile methods help establish a process that makes people feel happier. And that’s what it’s all about : people and the way they communicate are more important than anything else.
Agility is not a final state, but a way of thinking and living
It is important to understand that agility is usually the journey, not the destination. You can’t “implement” agility and just relax. If you choose this path, you will always have to do something new, better, solve a different problem, climb a different height. Everything keeps moving, endlessly. If only because there is no ideal process or product.