Is there already a discussion in your company about how to become more agile? Or have you already arrived – in an entirely agile organization? Either way, agility has been the megatrend in management consulting for several years now. We want to take you on a journey into the brave new agile world.
Agile enterprise – what does that mean?
Traditional (non-agile) companies are primarily organized in two different ways: process-oriented or project-oriented.
- Process orientation is often found in companies that produce and manufacture. To work profitably, the processes there must be continually optimized.
- In contrast, most companies in the construction industry, for example, are project-oriented. Here it is essential to make the individual project as efficient as possible.
Both forms of organisation have one thing in common: they are strongly inward-looking. Often the management of such companies is highly self-absorbed. One example of this is the process optimization in manufacturing mentioned above. It can happen that you have excellently optimized processes, but then these are no longer necessary due to entirely different customer requirements.
In agile companies, another principle is, therefore, at the top of the list: the customer is the focus. The organization is focused on how best to satisfy customer needs and meet (or better yet, exceed) customer expectations.
Well, you’re going to say, “We’re customer-oriented too!” That’s true, of course.
The difference lies in the orientation of the organizational form. In an agile company, the corporate structure is oriented towards the customer. Every decision is based on the following question: “What effect does this have on our customers? In each case in the short, medium and long term.
As a result, an agile company operates very close to its customers. Changes in customer needs are quickly recognized, and the organization can react immediately – in other words, agile. And that is important in today’s world. To assert oneself in the face of ever tougher competition, innovation cycles need to be shorter and shorter. The motto is: faster, higher, further. I don’t want to philosophize here about whether this is good or bad – it’s merely a fact.
How does an agile organization work?
In addition to the customer orientation already presented, an agile organization follows the principle of self-responsibility. Decisions are made where the most significant expertise is available.
It is the task of management to support these decision-making processes as best as possible. In an agile organization, managers tend to take on the role of a coach and ensure that the organization can continue to develop.
Great importance is also attached to the topic of the corporate culture. The development of organisational values and the living example of these values by managers is of essential significance. Over time, agile corporate culture is created the entire workforce supports that.
And that, in turn, is decisive for another success factor of agile organizations: Good cooperation. Agility will only work if the collaboration between teams and departments can be optimally designed. Managers have a great responsibility in this respect as well. Creating the framework conditions that enable cooperation to function, identifying and resolving conflicts early on are essential tasks for leaders. This requires openness and the willingness to develop oneself further continually.
What agile methods are there?
When talking about agile organizations, there is no getting around SCRUM. This methodology originally comes from software development but can be used for all kinds of product development. Also, with SCRUM customer orientation is the priority.
Thus, one tries to carry out the shortest possible development steps, so-called sprints (usually about 3-4 weeks), to obtain customer feedback after each step. This feedback then flows directly into the further product planning and the next sprint. Another approach is the so-called Design Thinking. Here, the aim is to find solutions that are convincing from the user’s perspective. So here, too, the principle of customer orientation is central.
For all those who would like to know more about agile methods or collaboration in agile organizations, we offer 2-day online training on various topics as part of our Summer Academy. All further details can be found at https://www.coverdale.at/shop/.