Agile working can be an opportunity for healthy growth if done correctly. Our guest author explains what problems can arise and how they can be solved.
Increasing complexity is constantly changing markets, and more robust networking and integration options for products require companies, startups and established companies alike to react faster. It takes diversity and lots of experts in companies. However, as the number of colleagues increases, the processes become even slower. How can you break this vicious circle and ensure the healthy growth of the organization?
One of the opportunities in the conversion to an agile organization. This means establishing independent teams with flat or no hierarchies, who work cross-functionally on problems and, thanks to short decision-making processes, can increase their reaction speed enormously.
The aim is to develop the most valuable, the potential of the employees to the maximum! But how do you do this, and where are the typical hurdles? This article shows you what happens when you convert to an agile organization, dispels prejudices and tells you where the hidden potential for success lies dormant.
With Scrum, The Agile Transformation Is Done
You might think that with the introduction of Scrum or Kanban, the agile transformation is done, and we can finally work quickly. But that is far from it. Scrum and Kanban are the only tools you see on the surface when you observe agile companies from the outside. But what costs time in agile transformation is the complete change in everyone’s mindset – especially that of superiors.
A transformation does not only take a few weeks. It is not a matter of flipping a switch – it is an ongoing process, becoming aware again and again when one falls back into old ways of thinking and behaviour. It can sometimes take months or years. But that’s okay! Even if the organizational change takes a long time, you can still see steady progress and observe that the organization is changing and on the way.
Everyone Thinks It’s Great To Be Agile
Everyone strives to take responsibility. We do it every day when we get up and start the day. In companies, however, we have systematically taken responsibility away from our employees and replaced them with controls and rules – in the hope of achieving greater security.
In agile organizations, responsibility is passed back to the employees. Nonetheless, not all colleagues go along with this change. Often, they do not know how to find their way around these new structures and who is now giving them recognition and confirmation for their work. Employees in management positions in particular often find it difficult to take this step. In flat hierarchies, the role of a team leader becomes obsolete – but the person as such is not. She has deep insights into the company’s business model and is incredibly valuable. Agile variants of the feedback conversation, such as 360-degree feedback, in which every employee can request feedback from colleagues, can help mitigate this step. Nevertheless, it remains a drastic step that brings many employees out of their comfort zone and throws them into unfamiliar structures.
But more responsibility also means that the people and their teams are responsible for the decisions. If the deployment fails or the software crashes on the weekend – now you have to do it yourself. But that also creates much greater awareness. In the same way, there are no longer any “requirements from above” that decide what needs to be done or what is wrong and right. Every employee can contribute themselves, promote topics and express criticism. Different opinions often clash here – conflicts arise that have to be resolved. To survive well in an agile organization, soft skills are critical. You have to discuss, listen and respond to one another to reconcile the different points of view.
Every Area In Our Company Must Work In An Agile Manner
The assumption is that it is advantageous if every team in the company works with one another in agile structures and there is no longer any hierarchy. However, it is essential here how the joint work is shaped – is it collaborative or cooperative?
Collaborative work is characterized by many people having to come together to get the job done. Everyone is necessary, and no one can do the job completed on their own. IT teams often work on issues that require collaboration.
On the other hand, Cooperative work is straightforward to plan because every necessary step is known or can be forecast. The employees have a definable area of responsibility and work within this field – the result of the work is easy to measure, which allows each employee’s value contribution to be identified. Classic sales departments, for example, are cooperative.
While collaborative work is ideally suited to working together on complex problems in agile structures without hierarchies, cooperative work would not become faster or better through agile networks.
The Critical Topics Are Addressed Automatically
The aim is to create teams that work as autonomously as possible in an agile transformation. This means that these teams can work without external dependencies. The advantage is obvious: fewer coordination processes, less coordination among each other and thus a significant increase in speed.
However, being autonomous does not mean that these teams can work entirely independently and do what they want. They are still embedded within a company and therefore part of an organization. Thus there will continue to be overarching topics and initiatives that a company should address strategically. Cross-departmental decision-making bodies are a great way to make sure everyone is going in the right direction. At this level, agile methods such as Kanban or Scrum can also jointly prioritize the initiatives. In addition, it pays to introduce transparent goals and measurable results across the entire company and at different levels so that the teams can decide to contribute to specific overarching goals.
The Success Of An Agile Transformation Can Be Measured
The exact measurability of the success of newly established measures is an essential requirement in most companies. The fruits of agile working methods can often only be seen months later. But there are indicators that you can look at.
In IT, for example, you can look at the reduction of incorrect code. The flattening of fluctuation and reduced sick leave among employees can also be used as measurable criteria. Above all, however, tasks are implemented more quickly. Not because employees can suddenly work faster, but because fewer dependencies and permits mean waiting times.
And Where Are You Going Now?
Even if agile transformation takes time and is not something for everyone right away, it is a perfect solution to get fit for the future and build a successful organization in the long term. Now it’s still the fruit basket, the Bahncard or the beer for after work. Still, in a few years, an agile structure will undoubtedly be a significant influencing factor to win over the best people for the organization in the “War of Talents” and keep them permanently kept.