Almost everyone and every company is talking about agile working. Often you hear the word “agile” being thrown around, without people even realizing its actual meaning. Fair enough, people love buzzwords — they help make you part of the conversation. However, let’s not jump straight on the bandwagon here! Instead, let’s find out what agile working actually means, and what you and your company can gain from it.
Agile working simplified
If you ask the majority of Management Consultants “When do you use agile working?”, their answer would probably be “Always!”. Yet is this statement true? In order to understand the role of agile working, let’s have a look at one of the most common statements you’ll find out there:
„Agile working gives companies the ability to have a competitive advantage over their competitors through a high degree of adaptability to the environment.“
The statement is absolutely correct, but unfortunately not very tangible. However, let’s touch upon that part in another blog. To put it in simplified terms, agility makes it possible to move successfully in a complex environment.
To know whether or not you’re in a complex environment, we’ll use the simplified representation of the Cynefin framework to help you recognize which method is best suited for you. This framework shows the five domains or environments in which a system (person, team, group, organization, etc.), i.e. you and your company, can move. Ordered areas have a causality, i.e. a clear assignment of cause and effect, this is not possible in the disordered area. Let’s go through the five different areas one by one to understand what each field says:
So, when does agile working make sense? Nowadays, the world has become „VUCA“ (more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous). Most companies will likely find themselves in a complex environment, whether it’s now or in the future. Think of topics like the technological development, digitalization, climate change, etc. Or another example like the famous five-year plan; no one exactly knows what will happen in five years and whether one’s current business model will not have become out-of-date by then.
Focus on values & principles
So, everything is agile after all? The answer is: it depends! In every company, there are always tasks that are either simple or complex, and there are also other more suitable methods. However, the focus of agile working is not on the methods, but on the values and principles. Is the company’s own structure and culture compatible with its agile counterparts? If this is not the case, the methods will not work and will meet with strong resistance.
Also important is the question of whether the team or the employees find the agile values and principles desirable or not. Most of the time, the management or the employees know little or nothing about it and lack the view from the outside to really deal intensively with agile transformations. Getting help from an external Agile Coach is the best way to analyze the company. By doing this, you ensure that agile works and make the mindset behind it tangible for everyone in the company. An agile transformation is primarily a change of attitude, in which the entire company changes culturally and structurally, and not an introduction of tools. Only when all challenges, values, wishes, structures and stakeholders are known, you can then move to the part „Which agile method suits us?
There is almost no market participant who is not in the “VUCA” world. Accordingly, every company should carry out an agile transformation in order to continue to exist and gain speed. Also remember that generation Y and the next generation largely demand self-determined and meaningful work, both of which are fulfilled by agile working. This is why it is crucial that you get the right help from an expert in this area.
An Agile Coach picks you and every single member of your team up from where they are. Bringing the view from the outside and helps you to broaden your horizon with knowledge about agility, the values, and principles as well as the methods. Are you ready to give agile working a try? Our team of experts is always ready to help you!
This blog is written by Dirk Börnert – Agile Coach and IT Consultant at Mediaan.