Corporations often look to startups and small web development or design agencies for insights into how to adopt more sustainable business practices and project management systems for their companies. That invigorating energy, that astounding productivity — why are small and self-organized teams with flat hierarchies and remote working structures so effective at delivering fast results that never fail to meet the customer’s needs? The answer is that many of these companies are agile and have not only adopted agile practices such as the employment of cross-functional teams, daily standups or scrums, and an adaptive approach, it’s that they think agile.
Agile is not only a set of practices or a methodology that can be swapped in and out depending on the given project. Agile is a state of mind, one that requires transparent and clear communication, collaboration, flexibility and adaptability to change, and constructive feedback. “Agile,” says Agile Academy founder Matthew Cain, “is about learning and improving how we work; not only what we do but how we work.”
Companies may decide to hire a trainer and implement agile due to low productivity and miscommunication at the workplace in an effort to streamline processes. Yet all too often, companies who look to agile trainers for solutions aren’t ready for real change. The agile trainer comes in and is seen as more of a process implementer than a facilitator, or worse yet, is met with management who aren’t ready to embrace the core values of agile.
For example, a key component of agile is to prioritise trust. If managers or team leads fail to trust in their employees to deliver results and make critical decisions within their teams, then they won’t be empowered to be transparent, which will result in a communication breakdown and delayed deliveries. Additionally, agile prioritises flexibility and encourages movement and collaboration between teams. In a traditional company’s hierarchical structure where people tend to stick to their roles, this may be a hard sell. However, these values are essential if companies want agile to create a real change in the company.
Implementing agile requires that a company be prepared to enact a meaningful shift in both methodology and mindset. It’s not just changing what you do, it’s changing how you think. Bringing in an agile trainer to help optimise processes is one thing, but be prepared to start from scratch in terms of how the organisation functions is another. As Ashok Singh of Simple Agile Corp notes ,“The truth is that Agile never fails (if implemented correctly), it simply brings up the dysfunctions of the organisation.” An agile trainer is not there to help companies streamline agile methodology with the current one, but to help them reimagine and reinvent how they work. You wouldn’t hire a therapist and expect them to do all the work of sorting out your problems for you, so how can you expect an agile trainer to help your organisation if it isn’t ready to implement a sustainable shift?
Depending on their size, the pressure on companies can be extreme. The world is changing fast, and companies need to keep up with these changes like never before. Aglie has been proven time and time again as a transformative approach to project management, but it has to be embraced fully in order to have success. This doesn’t just mean learning to implement new rules, it means learning to think differently.