By Biase De Gregorio
It was Klaus Schwab, founder and Executive chairman of the World Economic forum, who said, “In the new world, it’s not the big fish which eats the small fish, it’s the fast fish which eats the slow fish.” I say it’s not only about speed, but specifically the speed at which companies adapt to changing market conditions and customer needs.
Nothing proved this more than the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on organisations everywhere. The ones that remained successful and even thrived are the ones fastest to react and adapt to the crisis, to gain or maintain competitive advantage. And this is Business Agility! We don’t even need to give it a name. The most agile will be the most successful. I don’t mean having standups or practicing Agile software development. The culture, mindset, structure, and ways of working for Business Agility can’t remain a software or IT thing… it needs to span across the value chain.
I had the pleasure of being part of the organising committee of the first Global Business Agility conference run by the Business Agility Institute. We had more than 650 international registrations, with 15 learning series events, 4 mini-conferences in 4 regions, with 48 speakers and 16 deep-dive sessions – lots of space for great conversations! Have a look at the videos to see some truly memorable talks.
The key themes coming out of the conference:
- There is no recipe – people tend to search for a non-existent silver bullet in adopting agility. Scaling frameworks such as Disciplined Agile (DA), Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®) and the like serve a particular purpose. Organisations first need to understand their own context and use emergent practices to align to Lean-Agile principles. My favourite quote was from Antoinette Coetzee, “There is no textbook definition of what agility looks like – for a team, for an organisation, or an industry. NOBODY knows, and even if somebody did, by tomorrow it’d look different.”
- It’s a journey – the journey to agility is a long and difficult one. The Agile community has made great strides, specifically in IT. For most organisations, the promise of agility hasn’t been realised. This is the one ideal worth striving towards continuously. We need to reflect on the small victories and anchor change to them.
- An Agile transformation needs to be Agile – If you embark on an Agile transformation while applying a waterfall approach, you won’t succeed. Transformations are complex in nature. Use a Probe-Sense-Respond approach (as per the Cynefin framework) – with an iterative and incremental process, using experiments to introduce change.
- Empathy – Leadership buy-in is essential to make this work, as is a design thinking approach to change. The leaders who need to change are humans dealing with increasing pressure to ensure business success. They need to nurture the growth of their teams, keeping sight of job security and other employment conditions. We should start by empathising with all stakeholders, and co-create the journey with them by addressing the age-old question, “What’s in it for me?”
- Customer-centricity – If what we’re doing is not delivering or adding value to the customer, we should consider stopping or pivoting.
I’m ecstatic about the Business Agility offering that the IQbusiness teams have developed. We’re best positioned to solve the intricate problems faced by organisations. We have immense competence and capability across the value chain:
- Customer Experience (CX) – our CX team covers the design thinking approach to customer experience and process optimisation, concentrating on the customer through the CEMMethod™.
- Lean Portfolio Management – Optimising delivery has provided some success; yet more focus is needed on internal practices. As Sally Elatta said, “If we want Flow, stop the flooding.” Our team will link the strategy team and the execution team, ensuring focus on outcomes (rather than objectives). We’ll support with prioritisation and sequencing of work, building portfolio visions and roadmaps, and coordinating delivery across value streams to ensure strategic alignment.
- Agile frameworks and mindsets – starting up and supporting high-performing teams using Lean-Agile principles and practices. We have unmatched training and coaching offerings to support those exploring new avenues.
- People and Culture – Most businesses downplay the need for change management. We’ve seen substantial success in combining an agile approach with change management to ensure sustainable change in organisations.
- Operating models – Relooking an organisation’s operating model to align to Lean-Agile principles is an enormous task. Our team has the experience and competency necessary to lead the adoption of value streams, cross-functional teams, and agile roles.
- Technical excellence – Technical excellence enhances the ability to be agile. Our Engineering and DevOps team will work with organisations to set up their continuous delivery pipeline to create constant value for the customer.How IQbusiness can help
With a combination of our expertise and knowledge assets, IQbusiness can help you lead your team to satisfy customer needs while modernising your business.