People: The Neglected Side of Agile

What Agile Is Not

In principle, Agile is NOT the organizational ability to practice, but rather, it is the dire need of organizations to reduce uncertainty pertaining to customer preferences, technological innovations, changing market dynamics, regulatory dissonance, and, most importantly, the organizational ability & skillset to deliver in a less risky environment.

What Must Businesses do for a Successful Agile Transformation Strategy?

Agile shouldn’t just be undertaken as a strategic stint to overcome the ever-increasing costs of product development. It should be taken as an iterative approach where changes in processes are accommodated as you design the culture or the organizations, deriving behaviors that are consistent with agile practices, and defining structures that help with ‘Kaizen’s continuous improvement’ — or in other words, ‘Investing in People’.

How do lean-thinking people and Agile teams enable organizational agility?

Simply put, organizational agility can be achieved by taking these steps:

  1. Breaking down a large problem into smaller ones
  2. Then, through ‘Service Design’, identifying the most impactful ones to be solved for the customer
  3. Then using ‘System Design’ to identify the most impactful ones for the business
  4. Finally, delivering those smaller problems in an iterative manner, and continuously improving the ones already delivered in parallel to the newly identified ones.

Agile People Over Processes

Without investing in your people, you might be able to somehow implement Agile through process enforcement, but you won’t be practicing it in essence, and hence your Agile transformation strategy would not be sustainable.

  1. Autonomy
  2. Unsolicited collaboration
  3. Strategic alignment
  4. Clarity in roles and communication
  5. Trust

Autonomy

The core focus of an Agile strategy framework should be on giving autonomy to your people.

Unsolicited Collaboration

Many organizations that have successfully created guilds, tribes, and squads in efforts to enrich their culture with a more “collaborative” spirit are actually failing at sustaining these formal and informal groups.

Strategic Alignment

It is important to understand that Agile is not just the measure of the organizational capability to act fast, but also a primary driver for achieving strategic ambitions through innovation and experimentation. While keeping the main focus on strategic enablers, organizations can work swiftly towards validating and invalidating uncertainties to make sure the strategic objectives at the end of the day are crisp and clear.

Clarity in Roles and Communication

Communication in Agile teams is vital, especially when providing clarity across the roles, defining the responsibilities of the people, and ensuring that the people who are actually doing the job are well aware of their KPIs, their practices, and get enough time to work on their tasks.

Trust

Trust is an outcome of all the four variables discussed above, and it is definitely not built by top-down directions.

Takeaway

While most organizations focus on Agile processes, tools, and education, there is another world of soft elements of Agile that focuses on people, their behaviors, communication formalities, trust, and servant leadership.

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