Firstly, what is agile? The easiest way that I can explain to organisations and teams what being an agile organisation is, is through imagining a cat (stick with me)…
A cat leaps from a tall building, twists and turns, adapts to then land on its feet safely. An agile organisation is flexible and adapts to the ever-changing world, focusing on the user's needs and delivering customer-driven products, enabling continuous improvement and safe delivery.
Organisations that do not have an agile mindset, are much like the cat that freefalls, without flexing. This cat's future is sadly less fortunate, as are the organisations that follow. This is why it is so important for organisations to adopt an agile mindset if they want to thrive not just survive.
Agile organisations deliver value to their customers, incrementally; checking in on what’s still important to them and feeding back, adjusting, to the requirements their customers want and need.
By delivering value to our customers incrementally, we let them use the product sooner, give feedback and allow the project team to iterate upon it. Or in fact, customers can stick their hand up to say “Stop! We are happy with this! It fits our needs”. The value of this is immeasurable in itself, and can also save money, time and focuses the team’s creativity on the next value drive product for the customer.
Breaking down barriers
A core of agile is continuous improvement, both as a team; how teams together improve their processes, as well as the product. Continuous improvement requires continuous feedback, to one another, to our stakeholders and to our customers. It requires transparency and openness – values of agile and scrum – and it requires breaking down barriers. This is why I firmly believe and explain that agile is a mindset change, not an established, specific set of steps and instructions; but a way to look and approach a challenge.
For this to happen within organisations, there needs to be a learning culture; a culture that does not fear failure but embraces it. With fast failure, comes fast innovation, creativity and a safe experimental environment. To innovate and be ahead of the game, this environment is essential!
Responding to change over following a plan is another of the agile values. In today's world, if we don’t respond to change, adapt to a different plan and use complicated change processes that take weeks or months to agree and redesign, then we will fall behind.
Agile organisations embrace change, plan daily to progress and plan weekly to be able to have faster feedback loops from customers to pivot and adapt.
How do we build an agile mindset and culture?
It’s much easier to say than to do because changing a culture can take years.
- Start an agile approach to change,
- Do it in bite sized chunks
- Experiment with different teams
- Ask for feedback, be open and actively listen
- Carry those energised with you
- Nurture those who need more support.
Use the agile values as a guide:
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Communicate clearly, honestly and frequently.
Working product over comprehensive documentation
Get your product out there, to a good enough standard, it doesn’t have to be perfect. The value is in the feedback of the users.
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Be value driven, open to change and draft contracts based on that, over time and budget. Be flexible.
Responding to change over following a plan
Talk to your customers, and be flexible to change to deliver what they want, not necessarily what the initial idea was, as the beginning we know the least of what we want.
We need agile project management because it helps us focus on what matters. Becoming more agile through organisations and team’s brings flexibility to change and allows us to deliver value often with continuous feedback. The goal is not to ‘be agile’ the goal is to improve. With an incremental and iterative approach, we increase predictability and control risk.
A deep understanding of this lens as a way to see the world is vital so that you can continually incorporate and embody knowledge to ensure enduring performance and successful delivery.
Value what enables you to evolve to thrive (not just survive). Staying still is going backwards. Becoming agile isn’t a nice to have, it’s vital for the future.
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