The world we live in is constantly evolving – globalisation, automation and artificial intelligence are rapidly transforming industries and demanding organisations operate more efficiently than ever before.  To meet these demands, savvy organisations are shifting towards an Agile methodology; focusing on adaptive planning, early delivery, continuous improvement, and an ability to respond to change quickly and easily.  Given the present impact of digital disruption on all industries, it is no surprise organisations are transitioning themselves towards this approach.

Research conducted in 2006 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) suggests that agile organisations grow revenue 37 per cent faster and generate up to 30 per cent higher profits than non-agile organisations. Although the need to undertake an agile approach is increasingly evident, becoming an agile organisation remains elusive to all but a handful of companies. The Project Management Institute’s 2017 annual survey, ‘The Pulse of the Profession’, indicated that only 12 per cent of organisations distinguished themselves as highly agile.

If your organisation might benefit from adopting an Agile culture, here are 5 actions you can take to create an organisation that is faster, more resilient – and more Agile.

1. Assess the Current State of Your Organisation

Before embarking on the journey to Agile, conduct a review to recognise the current appetite of your organisation.  This will provide you with an understanding of your organisation’s core practices, processes and cultural fit for Agile.  This can also be utilised as a benchmark to measure the impact of future changes, as well as pinpoint any concerns or resistance your transformation will need to address and overcome for the future.  Assessing managerial readiness is particularly vital early on.  Many managers can struggle to adapt the Agile mindset and may have an undue impact on the change if not catered for.

2. Hire the Right People to Create a Flexible, Dynamic Team

To assist in the creation an agile organisation, you’re going to need agile people.  Traditional recruitment methods are optimised for hiring individuals with narrow skill sets that fulfil a specific discipline: e.g. Marketing, HR, IT.

Candidates recruited through this approach may find themselves struggling to adapt to the multi-disciplinary style associated with an Agile culture.  A more appropriate alternative approach that helps increase agility within an organisation disregards the skills checklist, and instead seeks candidates who fulfil the 3 Cs – creative, collaborate and curious.  Depending on the role, technical skills are still required, but the capacity to transition across disciplines and demonstrate these soft skills should be a priority in all new hires.

“These are the generalists with an entrepreneurial spirit,” Harvard Business Review (2014) states, “… the multi-faceted tinkerers who have specialized in a discipline like design but turn out to be pretty good coders.”

By having the right individuals, you will have a dynamic and flexible team that can accommodate and adapt when swift changes occur.

3. Create Focus and Communicate a Clear Vision

If you want to get your people to go where you and the organisation need them to go, you must present them with a clear and captivating vision of the future.  The better understanding your people have of yours and the organisation’s goals and aspirations, the faster everyone will work towards them.

Creating short term goals can help your team and the organisation avoid being distracted by a long list of priorities.  Create focus by narrowing down your priorities to just three or four that must be done as soon as possible.  As you complete each task, add more to the list to maintain focus without feeling overwhelmed.

Creating an Agile environment doesn’t happen overnight.  Keeping a clear vision front of mind in employees about the reasons for change will go a long way in getting them onside.  Change champions can also assist in communicating to those who aren’t yet sold on the benefits of Agile.  

4. Start Small

Although it may be tempting to immediately implement an organisation-wide Agile transformation, starting off with a single team/department will help you reduce risk.  It will also enable you to resolve any unexpected challenges while practising Agile ‘in the wild’ while optimising your approach in a small, controlled environment first.

When identifying your trial group, look for teams that will be the most open to adopting Agile.  Push decision-making authority and autonomy down the chain of command for the trial group, and give your people control and freedom over how they do their work.  Make sure you are regularly reviewing progress with the team to keep things aligned with the short-term goals. If goals are not being met, communicate with the trial group to see where improvements can be made.

5. Plan Your Roll-Out

Once you feel that you’re satisfied with your trial initiative and believe it’s working effectively, it’s time to begin rolling out the Agile approach across the whole organisation.  Keep your trial group involved in this process; not only will they give other teams an established example to follow, but they’ll also be able to act as Agile champions, advocating the approach while allaying any doubts or concerns.

The review process implemented during the trial period should continue throughout the roll-out to ensure that the approach is personalised to each team’s specific requirements and needs.  Keep in mind it is also a good idea to conduct a wider retrospective analysis to assess how effectively Agile is serving your organisation.

Understanding and planning for these initial 5 steps in implementing an Agile culture will set your organisation up far better than many competitors in the market.  With only 12% of organisations able to describe themselves as highly Agile, now is the time to transition your workforce towards a communicative, collaborative, and innovative Agile culture. 

To assist you in finding the best people to champion Agile, Psych Press’ menu driven Business Personality Reflections® (BPR®) questionnaire can quickly identify what competencies employees and candidates possess. This online menu-driven system contains over 70 selectable psychometric scales bespoke to organisational needs, and assesses many of the behavioural traits typically associated with effective Agile teams, including:  

  • Openness to Change
  • Teamwork
  • Autonomy
  • Ingenuity
  • Tolerance for Ambiguity
  • Innovativeness
  • Self-Management

To learn more about how Psych Press’s tailored approach, please simply enquire now for a trial of the BPR®, or one of our other services.