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It's Time to Make Your Organization Agile

What does your organization need to achieve greater agility?Another common mistake is creating silos that are supposed to work in agile ways, e.g. an agile delivery team or innovation hub. It might give you a startup-ish vibe, but that might not necessarily be helpful or effective.


And while one-size-fits-all might work perfectly well with certain frameworks, it’s not the right way for business agility. In order to work successfully, agile approaches need to consider the whole organization and — as the name implies — be flexible.


The right mindset


There are a few basic things that are essential for a successful adoption of agile ways of working. The main one might be obvious: Accept change and uncertainty — it won’t go away. It’s not about implementing one change initiative and then sitting back and relaxing.


You need to constantly be aware of changing environments. Be aware of your need for change and respond to it.  Organizations also need to understand what is meant by “agile” ways of working and accept that an agile approach might not be appropriate for everything. In other words, don’t force it.


It’s important that the adopted approach is followed by the whole organization. There won’t be any benefits if one team starts working in agile ways, but the rest of the organization stands pat. This could actually have the opposite effect and create confusion when teams try to communicate with each other.


For example, if the marketing team within an organization decides to work on a new campaign using agile methods, but all the other teams that support the campaign’s delivery work in different ways, then marketing might eventually be forced to revert to their previous methods in order to finish their job.


Another important factor is the middle management level, as mid-level managers play a key role. They need to act as communicators, supporters, trainers, collaborators, and persuaders. Mid-level managers that inspire their teams, shift their mindset, and get their workers onboard are essential for a successful adoption of agile working.


Five principles of enterprise agility


There are five principles for the while organization that are fundamental for successful transformation. These attitudes and behaviours are:


Change will happen, so embrace it: There’s no escaping it. It’s important to shift your mindset from “it’s forced on me” to “I’m part of it”. Empowerment is the magic word here.


Focus on co-creation of customer value early and often: Businesses should try to optimize the value they deliver. For this, it’s essential to involve the customer as closely and as early on in the process as possible. This will be a challenge for the entire organization, but it will help to ensure that the customer gets the best service at all times.


Develop an environment where everybody adds value: All staff should feel that they are able to give input and contribute. This empowerment will help get rid of tasks that don’t support the objectives of the business. In addition, it will also support continuous service improvement and creativity.


Challenge the status quo: Staff should also be encouraged to ask questions and challenge established practices. This will prevent businesses getting too comfortable with their success which could lead to becoming vulnerable to disruption.


Tailor your approach, and don’t be afraid to experiment: Adopting an agile approach must be tailored to teams and the work they are doing. Be willing to find out which way works best for yourself.


These five principles are the rationale behind AgileSHIFT, a new guidance tool from AXELOS Global Best Practice to support enterprise agility. It does this by providing a simple agile framework for organizations and teams to adopt. To find out more about AgileSHIFT and how it can help your organization become more agile, click here.



John EdmondsJohn Edmonds has extensive and varied experience in management, particularly change, program and project management. He is the PPM Portfolio Development Manager at AXELOS Global Best Practice and responsible for the oversight of the entire PPM portfolio, which includes PRINCE2®, PRINCE® Agile, MSP®, M_o_R®, MoP®, P3O® and P3M3®. John was also one of the lead authors of AgileSHIFT®.