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Releasing the Benefits of Agile

Ponderosa Agency by Ponderosa Agency

Releasing the Benefits of Agile

More than a Buzzword

When it comes to the latest organisational trends, it is safe to say that ‘Agile’ is having more than a moment. Perhaps once seen as a concept only applicable to technology teams, Agile is now frequently cited as a way to navigate fast-changing circumstances and complex demands. Whether through blogs, academic papers or webinars, the benefits of scaling agile or transforming to an Agile Enterprise are frequently mentioned; and it is true that Agile can result in many benefits.

So why is it that many organisations struggle to maximise the agile advantage? They commit to Business Agility, introduce a framework (SAFe, Scrum, Lean or another) and invest in communicating the benefits to teams – but something doesn’t quite ‘click’. CEOs and business leaders often find themselves asking the same questions – ‘what went wrong?’

In our experience, Business Agility fails for four key reasons:

  1. The Agile ambition is unclear and undefined
  • Embarking on an Agile transformation without dissecting what problems your business needs to solve (and if Agile is the right solution) ​
  • Inconsistent use of terminology can result in false alignment
  1. Leadership paralysis
  • Leadership are not aligned on what Agile means for the organisation​
  • Traditional leaders allow bureaucratic processes to creep back in and hamper progress
  1. Unclear roles and decision rights
  • Agile teams aren’t fully empowered to deliver outcomes, with previous decisions makers interfering​
  • Agile teams are asked to dedicate time to supporting their managers, instead of their time being undivided and focused on their value stream
  1. Undercooked investment hasn’t removed process and technology blockers
  • Inflexible budgeting and planning processes reducing ability for Agile teams to pivot and be nimble
  • Outdated and misaligned tools and systems that don’t foster Agile methods

Turning theory into results – How Q5 can help

Q5 supports organisations to overcome these challenges and turn theoretical approaches into practical, measurable change. We work with clients to construct an approach tailored to their needs. Some recent examples include:

 To start turning theory into results at pace, we would recommend focusing on three activities:

  1. As a leadership team, decide and align on what Agile really means for your organisation and what you want to achieve from your transformation – be realistic, challenge yourselves and ensure alignment on language
  2. Define your customer journeys and prioritise accordingly, making sure that you identify and address process and technology blockers by involving people from all parts of the organisation e.g. HR, Finance, etc.
  3. Engage, support and challenge your managers to shift their style and enable teams to focus on their value streams. Bring this to life with scenarios, regular communication and ongoing feedback – it won’t happen overnight

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