Agile is not a goal, but a means to reach something. That’s why initiatives for increased agility need to be based in a clear “why”. With relentless improvement being built into the agile ways of working and thinking, there’s no finish to aim for. Working with culture needs to be always ongoing too, and it’s crucial for success that it’s developed to support the agile ways of being and doing.
Agile organizations have many benefits, and success cases showing this pop up frequently. Our experiences show that management involvement and ownership is a deal-breaker when increasing the agility in organizations.
"Increased agility could be your best bet to survive in today’s increasingly complex world."
Understand what agile means
To fully reap the fruits of agile, both being and doing agile need to be developed and you need to understand what this means. When initiating change around structures, processes, capabilities and behaviors to increase agility, an unlimited number of possible consequences may follow, particularly when they happen almost at once. Therefore, it’s crucial to accept that there will be times with much uncertainty and extensive exploration to find what suits your organization.
Define why going for agile
Before starting any agile initiatives, spend time on your main challenges, what causes them and what improvements you want to see. If benefits of increased agility map to your desired improvements, it’s a good case for taking your first agile steps. From start, your desired effects of going agile should be guiding in all decisions you make on your agile journey. Note that going for agile will probably help in many cases but agile is not the single solution to all problems or beneficial in all situations.
Build a collaborative culture
Self-organizing teams with competences needed for end-to-end value realization is central in agile. The value of working in these teams is only realized when the team members are empowered to do their best, they collaborate in a safe environment and quickly mobilize around common goals. It’s therefore crucial to develop Collective Intelligence as collectively intelligent teams better leverage each other’s knowledge and experiences to achieve team goals.
"Collectively intelligent teams better leverage each other’s knowledge and experiences to achieve team goals."
Embrace agile leadership
Creating successful conditions for self-organizing teams requires an appropriate kind of leadership. Agile leaders need to be highly available for impediment removal and should focus on setting direction, creating alignment and clarity, and intentionally moving decision making to the teams. They also need to be role models and should therefore start doing and being agile early on. This both shows that the change really is happening and that exploring and trying new things is a wanted behavior.
Make incremental improvements
Change always takes time and requires a lot of effort. Some in the organization will probably show improvements early whereas others will have a tougher time and see productivity decrease initially. To secure a sustainable change, it’s beneficial to test and learn from incremental changes and move on gradually throughout the organization. This way, potential productivity decreases are spread out, learnings can be utilized and good results can inspire others to start their agile journey.