As change accelerates in the world around us, you have to be nimble to stay ahead. As businesses bring new ideas to market in response, the competitive landscape in every sector is experiencing disruption. Taking an Agile approach is proven to help business leaders not only deal with these challenges but also to thrive and grow.
Racing towards the future
New ‘digital-born’ competitors, unencumbered by legacy structures and systems, and driven by fearless ambition, aren’t waiting around for the big players to catch up. They’re racing towards the future and they’re moving at breakneck speed.
For your organisation, this might not be news. You probably already see the need to start serving customers in new ways. You want to get better at predicting and exploiting new opportunities. But planning to develop new ideas and implement change in a conventional way means you could lose the race even before you leave the blocks. It’s time to change.
Doing transformation differently
Many businesses still plan change in a traditional way – as a series of interdependent projects, with results typically delivered at the end of each cycle. Each cycle can last up to five years. So, by the time the benefits are delivered, the world has moved on.
What’s needed now is something more flexible – an approach that lets you constantly adjust and readjust to new and evolving realities. This is where Agile comes in. It’s an incredibly powerful way of driving change.
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Way beyond the IT department
Agile approaches for projects have been in use for more than a decade, originally by software development teams. Agile techniques encourage and enable teams to ‘test-learn-change’ in an ever-evolving process (rather than directing them towards some fixed, already defined end point). Regular iteration and evaluation reduces implementation risk and makes it easier to stop unprofitable projects before you incur large losses.
More and more organisations are using Agile approaches to undertake transformations large and small so they can respond faster and more effectively to change. It can inject a new sense of purpose and energise people in any sector. We have extensive experience in leading successful Agile programmes for organisations around the world – including the largest ‘Scaled Agile’ transformations in banking, life sciences and the UK Government.
A culture of continuous learning and innovation
Agile offers a suite of distinctive tools and methods, but becoming an Agile organisation is about more than putting those into practice. To realise the flexibility and speed of Agile, you need to change your culture too. Whether you succeed in doing this depends on your leaders.
‘Command and control’ doesn’t support an Agile culture. Instead, leaders need to think of themselves as ‘facilitators’, asking “what can I do to make my teams successful?” The focus should be on enabling the team and promoting a culture of continuous learning and innovation.
The shift to Agile extends beyond leadership style to structures. Agile promotes flat structures and decentralised decision-making. Leadership becomes a collective responsibility for the whole team, so encouraging and developing highly engaged leaders at all levels is key. Start thinking of ‘leadership’ as a personal attribute rather than a grade, and you’ll find this makes it possible for people at all levels to take the initiative and contribute more.