5 lessons for companies to become more agile

Thought leaders at the Agile Australia conference share their insights into what really drives agility in a digital-first organisation

The globally competitive landscape is putting pressure on organisations to find innovative and more rapid-fire ways to improve their products and service offerings. One principle and practice helping to achieve this is a sustainable agile environment.

Keynote speakers at this year’s 2015 Agile Australia conference in Sydney revealed their top lessons around building a successful agile environment and culture.

1. Embrace evangelism

According to independent consultant and chief operating officer of The Hillside Group, Linda Rising, corporate evangelism is one of the key drivers to creating an agile organisation. She stressed ‘agile’ is a belief system and not a ‘placebo’, and said that just because one method of agility works for one organisation, it doesn’t mean it will deliver the same productivity for you.

“In the beginning, you have no scientific proof that your idea will work, but what you do have is your belief that the idea is good and that it will work for your organisation,” she said. “Most people who decide to go agile, don’t look at the scientific studies, because there are none.”

2. Change is in the little things

At the heart of being agile is adopting a learning cycle, Rising said. But rather than being pre-occupied with large changes, she recommended always conducting smaller-scale experiments to improve both yourself and your organisation.

“We all want to have big goals, when really it is about tiny, little steps,” she said. “It’s the little things that can ultimately make a big difference to an organisation’s success. Just try some very small thing and stop, look around, take some time to reflect on where you’re having little successes and build on them. “Take another baby step around those little successes and then repeat. Do that over and over - it never ends. If you’re agile, you should continually learn.”

3. Tread carefully with coercion

For Rising, coercion can work against agility as it can result in strict compliance and works against a long-term vision to be adaptable to change.

“The problem with an initiative that has coercion behind it is that it is very short-lived and is not effective,” she claimed. “It actually raises resistance and you never get believers – you never get hearts. The pattern is called personal touch – why should I do this? What is in it for me, what is the benefit to me personally?”

4. Reduce the fear factor

Taking out the fear factor, combined with listening, respect and being more open, are powerful ingredients in leading an effective agile environment, Rising said.

“In some organisations, I’ve seen agile introduced as just an excuse for firing a lot of managers so their fears were justified,” she added. “You never influence anybody by showing how stupid they are, you influence people by making them feel good and appreciated and you do that by respecting what they have to say.”

5. It is all about teamwork

For thought leader and agile software developer, James Shore, an agile organisation needs to invest wisely in its ‘agile fluency model’ in order to be able to change direction, be truly adaptive and respond to the market.

“Teams tend to grow in a certain way,” he said. “Some teams are fluent at focusing on value. They’re able to discuss what they’re doing from a business perspective rather than a technical perspective. They’re able to change direction when requested and provide a lot of transparency on what is going on.”

According to Shore, the agile fluency model works on a tiered ‘star’ system, with a one-star model focusing on value, a two-star model delivering on value, a three-star system optimising on value and a four-star system optimising for systems.

“Fluency of your team depends on your organisation,” he said. “But fluency at any of these levels is a good thing. Just choose what is right for you. As your teams develop proficiency they will grow in fluency. Decide what investments you need to make and go out and make some progress.”

Shore also recommended creating a shared workspace or team room structure isolated from the rest of the workspace so team members can respond promptly to each other and communicate effectively.

“If you can put people together in a shared workspace, you can see a lot of benefits from it in terms of agility,” he said. “If you’re distributed, a virtual space is just as effective.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Setting advertising objectives for financial performance

I’ll often be talking to clients and at some point say, ‘the most important thing is justifying price’. Then moments later, ‘the most important thing is increasing the size of your customer base’.

Kyle Ross

Strategist, TRP

5 common mistakes to avoid in scalable customer experience

CX is about future-proofing your business by ensuring that your commercial model is always looped into your customers' needs, perceptions, values, beliefs, motivators, and detractors.

Tom Uhlhorn

Founder and strategy director, Tiny CX

5 cornerstones of a strong digital culture

Creating a strong company culture may sound like a daunting task, but it’s actually pretty straightforward. In fact, company culture is created in exactly the same fashion as a religion or democracy. Behaviours created from the organisation’s inception are reinforced over time by leadership, attracting like-minded people and eventually reaching critical mass to become an accepted ‘truth’.

Anthony Stevens

Founder and CEO, Digital Asset Ventures

Thanks for writing about chatbots. Definitely bots have the exciting future when it comes to customer engagement, transactional and conve...

Giridhar Prathap Reddy

Australian Open chalks up strong ticket sales with chatbot

Read more

Hello, where are the explanations of all the levels explained? I'd like to review this with a couple of colleagues. Thanks.

Melinda Gonzalez

CMO launches CMO CX, debuts customer experience maturity assessment

Read more

A great and accurate commentary - today we rarely get true personalisation. On web journeys cookies or logins remember who we are, what w...

Ian Moyse

Salesforce: Personalisation is a long way off what consumers now expect

Read more

Very nice information !! We provide almost every indian satta matka games with fast results. Online Matka play becomes easy with genuine ...

rsgame

Image intelligence:10 must-see infographics for marketers

Read more

One of the best example for email marketing!!This post has completely explained the power of email marketing and how it is beneficial to...

Abhinav Mohan

How email marketing automation is helping this Aussie electrical wholesaler enter the digital age

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in