Why You Should Know Agile

What Every
Business Leader Should
Know About Agile

When an organization is described as agile, what does that mean? We believe words (or, in this case, capitalization) matter, so let’s unpack this term.

The Agile movement (commonly known as the Agile Method) offers a nimble way to assess a project throughout its lifecycle. Agile was originally developed to guide software development. Often described as “iterative” or “incremental,” Agile allows teams to respond and adjust to the unpredictable based on feedback. When used as an adjective or characteristic, being agile or having agility is the ability to move quickly and easily.

Because agile innovations have positively and drastically altered software development, it’s worth exploring the application in a broader way: how we think and how we work.

A recent Harvard Business Review article discussed how “agile methodologies—which involve new values, principles, practices, and benefits and are a radical alternative to command-and-control-style management—are spreading across a broad range of industries and functions and even to the C-suite.”

Today, business is demanding more, requiring more than change alone or change for change’s sake. Maybe that seems like stating the obvious, so let’s dig a little deeper.

How to really be agile.

Change can mean a lot of things: new and improved technology, different ways of working, advanced customer requirements…the list goes on. Change happens to us, requiring us to adapt what we do to survive and thrive in the new state.

Transformation goes a step further. Transformation is a thorough, dramatic change in form or appearance. When someone undergoes a transformation, their beliefs are modified, which impacts the actions they take.

At its core, an organization is the collection of individuals, and those individuals possess knowledge, behaviors, skills, ability, and motivation. Arguably, the organization’s culture is largely influenced by the collective mindsets of individuals. That culture determines your employees’ personal interactions—how they treat each other, how they think, and how they feel. It’s the primary contributor to your people’s engagement and whether they are willing to give you their discretionary energy and effort.

What would happen if organizations shifted their thinking from managing a series of changes to drive certain results, and started thinking of transforming their cultures to achieve desired results instead? That’s a big question, but finding the answer could be a game-changer for organizations.

If an organization transforms their culture to be agile, it requires the work to transform people’s beliefs and values to align to Agile principles. But the benefit is that being agile will mean much more than the organization simply prescribing to the Agile methodology. An agile culture can be a serious competitive advantage to serving customers and to attracting key talent.

High-performing companies make strategic choices to continually craft and influence their culture. That culture shapes the mindsets of your people. To advance beyond implementing changes at your organization, mindsets need to shift (starting with leaders). This agile transformation can lead to fewer dollars spent on change and higher employee engagement and productivity. And projects will be strengthened by the fact that your people’s attitudes and values are aligned to the culture.

We can leverage the Agile Manifesto to inform our thinking to foster an organizational culture that supports agile transformation:

  • Place value in individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
  • Strive for working software over comprehensive documentation.
  • Create customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
  • Be prepared to respond to change needs over following a prescribed plan.

Interested in chatting about Agile (or agile) with Katie? Give us a call at (859) 415-1000 or drop us a line in the form at the bottom of this page.

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