4 recommendations to facilitate agile practices across your organization

Until recently, Agile management practices were relevant to and advocated by primarily the software development sector. However, proceeding recognition by renowned publications and organizations[1], Agile is now rapidly spreading across all types of organizations[2]. The adoption of Agile practices enables organizations to be the frontrunners in adapting to continuous change, flourishing in an environment marked by unpredictability, intricacy and ambiguousness.  Among the various Agile practices, Kanban and Scrum are widely used to introduce the transformation within the organization. While Kanban focuses on work items and its completion, Scrum is used for organizing teams and continuous improvements.

Surveys report that even though a majority of executives prioritize agility, yet only a few see their current organization as highly agile. Reasons such as lack of leadership value of flexibility, versatility and technical skills, and unfamiliarity of employees to Agile practices impede the process of leveraging Agile practices to perpetually evolve. The following provide recommendations that facilitate the implementation of Agile practices across the organization:

The Vision

It is imperative that the organization develops a sound understanding of what Agile is and what it means to the organization. Hence, document the vision and accordingly promote it to make it a prominent part of the organization. There are numerous, more than 70, Agile practices based on values and principles. Therefore, one must accordingly determine what tools, methods and frameworks are appropriate for the organization, depending upon the desired outcome.

Leadership

The transformation to Agile entails primarily a new way of working, a revolution at the core of the organization, carried up from the very top. At the management level, view leadership as a way to enable the subordinates to function with smart autonomy, providing freedom to exercise talent and creativity. Furthermore, to the extent possible, one must disaggregate challenges into small batches, carried out by self-organizing autonomous teams working iteratively with readily available feedback. Such an approach will enable the team to adjust accordingly to the feedback and improve the overall process through adaptive learning. Given that the risk associated with over shift, a phased approach is required. Consequently, at the time of implementation, start at the departmental level rather than at the organizational level.

Empowering Employees

The provision of training, tools and resources expedites the process of accustoming to Agile practices. An introductory training can provide the teams with a prospect to familiarize with the concept. To further the process, an Agile coach can guide the teams in case of challenges or issues encountered. Also, allow the teams to choose their own workstyles (as long as they do their jobs effectively) and support them to maximize productivity, efficiency and creativity.

Widespread Culture

The Agile transformation culture embedded in an organization is essential for the realization of the vision. Crucially important is the communication of the organization’s vision of transformation explicitly to all the employees and a formulation of a team recompense system that rewards teamwork, rather than individual achievements.

Final Thoughts

One of the biggest pitfalls that organizations fall into is by looking at Agile as a one stop shop solution to all problems, that helps achieve more work in less time. Clearly, Agile is more than that. Therefore, it is recommended that each organization analyzes Agile practices in-depth, to pick a combination that is most suitable for the needs of the firm. It is also recommended that this analysis should not be a one-time practise, but rather a periodic exercise, so that the firm is able to evolve in an optimal manner.

[1] Harvard Business Review and the 2015 Learning Consortium Project

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2016/08/13/what-is-Agile/#3345abe826e3