Building an agile culture

In today’s highly competitive marketplace, business leaders are looking to strip back traditional and cumbersome business process, and create new work cultures and mechanisms that enable faster execution and faster delivery – many are turning Agile.

Agile is hardly a new term. Agile has become a proven approach to nimble execution for executives and senior managers, and is also one of the most popular and effective project and change management methodologies. It may be one of the most over-used terms in business today – along with Transformation – and gets a mention in every executive strategy, and forms prominently in the internal vocabulary across almost every organisation.

Leaders and executives want their organisations to ‘be Agile’ and to ‘work Agile’.

For organisations to ‘be Agile’ and to work in an agile way, they require a culture of agility. 

Creating a culture of agility requires the changing of attitudes, behaviours, and habits of those within an organisation. These changes need to be underpinned by the improvement or re-engineering of business process across the entire organisation, creating a quicker and more responsive way of working and an environment that enables the acceleration of strategy.

Keys to building an Agile culture:

  • Shifting the focus onto measuring ‘leading’ rather than ‘lagging’ indicators of success – Determining what the leading indicators of success are and reporting on those in a pro-active and visible way allows the organisation to be adaptive, to adjust and change outcomes.
  • Framework that provides visibility, transparency and accountability across the enterprise – Having a framework is necessary to provide visibility, drive accountability and track results. For example; formalising the structure into an Enterprise Program Management Office or Transformation Office creates transparency and enables the organisation to prioritise investments and resources as well as facilitate fact-based decision making faster and with more accuracy.
  • Ideas generation – Implement a pipeline of business improvement ideas, and ensure this pipeline is always building and being maintained and that a robust process is in place to prioritise and select the ideas for execution depending on the organisation’s environment and market position at that time.
  • Speed to value – All the effort must translate into improved business performance. This can be dependent on the system of measurement that has been agreed and implemented top-down. For example; organisational financial performance, operational performance, customer satisfaction, etc.  This also must work both ways in that if initiatives are not providing value (not working) then the concept of agility becomes important in shutting down these initiatives and starting new ones based on the ideas pipeline above.
  • Visual and interactive tools to engage teams, facilitate decision making and maintain momentum – The use of visual tools as well as personal and verbal interaction allows for rapid decision making and sharing of information. There are different ways that visual tools can be integrated into the framework above.
  • Strategic approach to change management – A more strategic approach to change management looks at change across the enterprise and clarifies specific desired behaviours and provides ‘enablers’ to support these to occur. For example; success can be attributed to communicating the ‘why’ very clearly and with a strong support system in place everyone is more likely to commit to the change journey.
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