Successful businesses deliver quality products and services that customers value in a timely manner. This is Business 101. Yet many businesses, particularly larger ones, struggle to achieve this.
What’s getting in the way?
In our experience, there are three key impediments to business performance that need to be tackled:
- Too much focus on the process, and not enough on the outcomes
- Lack of alignment in the work
- Time and money wasted on non-value accretive work
How does adopting an Agile Mindset address these problems?
1. Focus Exclusively on Outcomes
Whether it’s creating a Minimum Viable Product or Service, or continuing to improve existing offerings, our sole focus must be on bringing that product or service to market.
Yes, we need to operate within constraints (such as regulatory requirements, budgets, etc), but the objective should be clear and unambiguous.
Process (whether it be Six Sigma, Agile, Waterfall or an in-house process) needs to be subordinated to the goal. If the process is not delivering the outcomes we need, change the process. There is nothing sacred about existing processes, and yet these can be the most difficult things to change in an organisation.
Green lights on a RAG report are interesting and can make us feel good, but products and services in market are the only true measures of success.
2. Align the Work and the Teams Doing It
There is no such thing as “Business” and “IT” – IT is part of the business, just like Marketing, Operations, Finance and Logistics.
Technology (as represented by IT) is increasingly a key factor (often THE key factor) in business success. Technology development needs to be tightly aligned to business objectives, and the teams doing the work need to be organised like an orchestra – singing off the same hymn sheet to deliver an outstanding performance.
Adopting an Agile Mindset ensures teams are clear on the objective and are working to deliver the same outcome.
3. Stop Starting and Start Stopping
How much work is being done in your organisation that is either unimportant or unnecessary? Taking a critical eye to the work that is being done usually identifies a deep pool of capacity that can be diverted to much higher-value activities.
It’s true that this means some things won’t get done – but are these things as important as the big things that are taking way too long?
Try stopping some of this low-value work and redirecting your valuable resources to the things that really matter to your organisation and your customers. There will be pain, but the benefits will certainly outweigh the costs.
Business Agility is all about creating a zealous focus on outcomes.
It doesn’t matter if the project delivers on-time and on-budget, if it doesn’t deliver value to the customer.
It doesn’t matter that our team has been working really hard for weeks, if they’re not working on the right things.
And it certainly doesn’t matter if we win an internal turf war, but end up losing the time-to-market battle to our competitor.
An Agile Mindset is not a nice-to-have in the modern business world – it is a necessity.
Eric Jansen is the Founder and CEO of Next Paradigm, a consulting firm that helps organisations dramatically increase business performance and employee engagement.