Stay Agile, take risks and don’t be afraid to fail
By Mark Simmonds | 10 March 2017
Organisations across the globe are targeting improved agility. It is increasingly accepted that businesses need to be Agile to succeed, and that Agile approaches are best suited to today’s fast-moving world.
What has made Agile a leading business aspiration? Where does its power lie? In days gone by, organisations could plan ahead, detailing how they would achieve strategic goals. Today, the pace of change is too fast to know how a business’s market and its working environment will look in future. The only certainty is that change and organisational transformation will be an essential part of its success.
The power of Agile is in its ability to offer a disciplined yet flexible approach to managing change in a fast, dynamic world. The robust governance framework it provides sustains a steady focus on the strategic vision, but allows the flexibility needed to ensure this becomes reality. In an Agile organisation, detail evolves as empowered teams respond to the changing context all around them.
Innovation at the heart
The world stage is shifting daily, whether due to social or political impacts or the increasing momentum of technological developments. Businesses can no longer afford to “do what they did last time” and expect it to work. Innovation now needs to be at the heart of every business – for products and services, and ways of working.
Innovation requires a change in culture for many organisations as embracing new ways introduces high risk, including the risk of failure.
Fail fast and move forward
With innovation comes a willingness to experiment, and accept a level of managed risk. Agile organisations are not afraid of failure. They accept the necessity to continually correct course in the light of new conditions:
• Where there is a risk of failure, then fail fast with time to respond or even cancel the project and spend your money elsewhere
• Don’t design everything up front. Instead, set off in the right direction and focus on those things that are of most value to the business
• Deliver frequently, with regular stakeholder feedback
• Focus on areas of highest risk, testing to prove whether ideas will work
• Build teams that are empowered to make decisions
• Inspire and lead, to create an environment where innovators can thrive
People not processes are at the heart of Agile. To ensure business change is always focused on delivering customer value and business success, it’s essential the right people are engaged at the right time, and in the right way. By creating a framework for collaboration and communication,
Agile ensures that innovation and ideas are never stifled, and can always become reality.
Mark Simmonds is a former director and current member of the Agile Business Consortium