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January 18, 2024, vizologi

Best Approaches to Business Agility for You

Business agility means a company can adapt quickly to market or industry changes. This includes pivoting strategies, processes, and operations when new opportunities or challenges arise. Agility is crucial in today’s fast-paced business environment.

In this article, we’ll explore ways to achieve business agility, such as flexible organizational structures, innovative technology, and a culture of continuous improvement. These strategies can help both small startups and large corporations stay competitive and responsive in a changing market.

Understanding Business Agility

What is it?

Business agility means a company can react quickly to changes in the market, technology, and customer needs. This helps the company make good decisions and stay ahead of the competition.

Business agility is about making the whole company flexible, not just the software team. It changes how companies work, making them more productive and saving money. It’s also good for the employees.

Important words related to business agility are roles, responsibilities, team structures, and Business Agility Value Stream (BAVS). Understanding these words is important for companies that want to be agile and successful in today’s fast-paced business world.

Unlike ‘agile,’ which is about specific methods in software, business agility uses the same ideas for the whole business. This helps all the different parts of the company change together.

How is it different from just being ‘Agile’?

Business agility covers more than just traditional agile methodologies. It includes organizational adaptability and resilience. While agile focuses on software development, business agility involves cross-functional teams, leadership, and organizational structures. It brings flexibility and quick response to change across the entire business, not just specific projects or teams.

This allows businesses to adapt to market changes, customer needs, and internal dynamics, not just the software development process.

Business agility is driven by the need for organizations to transform strategically in response to market demands and technological advancements. It requires core competencies like leadership, strategy, customer-centricity, and learning culture, in addition to the technical aspects emphasized in agile methodology. The Business Agility Value Stream is essential for rapid learning and fostering favorable business outcomes, setting it apart from the project-focused approach of traditional agile processes.

Key Terms You Should Know

Business agility involves some important terms to know. These include ‘Business Agility Value Stream ‘, ‘SAFe’, and ‘core competencies needed to achieve business agility’.

Understanding these terms is crucial for successfully implementing business agility in an organization.

Business agility is more than just being ‘agile’. It also involves broader organizational strategies, structures, and culture to adapt to a rapidly changing market.

Knowing and using these key terms provides a common language and framework for all stakeholders involved in the agile transformation.

What Makes a Business ‘Agile’?

Moving Fast: Why Speed Matters

Speed is important in business agility for several reasons. It helps businesses to respond quickly to market changes, customer needs, and technological advancements. This allows them to stay competitive and relevant in the industry. Teamwork and visualizing work are essential for business agility. Collaborative efforts lead to efficient problem-solving, increased innovation, and streamlined processes, ultimately contributing to the rapid execution of tasks and projects.

Working as a Team: Cross-Functionality

Cross-functionality is important for a team to work in an agile way. It’s about bringing together people with different skills and expertise. This diversity leads to better problem-solving and more creative ideas.

By visualizing work and dividing tasks, cross-functionality helps teams work better together. Each person contributes their unique skills, making collaboration more efficient.

Also, cross-functionality affects how well a team can carry out their agile plans. With a team that has all the necessary skills, there are fewer delays and things get done faster. This means the team can make decisions quickly and respond better to changes in the business world.

Seeing Everything: Visualizing Work

Visualizing work in business agility is important for effective and efficient operations. By making work visible, teams can better understand their progress, identify potential bottlenecks, and make informed decisions.

For example, using visual boards to track tasks and workflow stages allows team members to see the status of work at a glance and promotes transparency. Limiting the number of tasks in progress at any given time helps in visualizing work by focusing on completing the most important tasks first, reducing the risk of multitasking, and improving overall productivity.

Putting Your Work on Hold: Limiting Tasks

Limiting tasks can help businesses become more agile. It reduces the amount of work in progress, allowing teams to focus and complete tasks efficiently. This helps deliver work faster and with better quality.

The benefits of limiting tasks in business agility include improved productivity, reduced lead time, and increased employee satisfaction.

To limit tasks effectively, businesses can use strategies such as visualizing work in progress, setting and monitoring task limits, and actively managing work in the overall system. By adopting these strategies, businesses can understand and improve their workflow, leading to higher overall agility and success.

Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Why it’s tough to change

Resistance to change can have a big impact on implementing agility in a business. Factors like fear of the unknown and loss of control can make it hard to change established ways of doing things. Plus, company culture and norms can also make it tough to adopt new agile practices. This resistance can show up in different ways, like strict leadership structures, inflexible procedures, and not being open to new ideas.

Dealing with these barriers needs a careful and strategic approach to make business agility work.

Leading the Way: Importance of Leadership

Effective leadership is important for business agility. Leaders set the tone for an agile work environment, fostering collaboration, adaptability, and continuous improvement. They empower teams, remove obstacles, and facilitate efficient decision-making and resource allocation.

Leaders also contribute to the success of an agile business by aligning the organization with a shared vision, promoting trust and transparency, and nurturing a growth mindset among employees. They can help overcome challenges related to implementing agility by providing guidance, support, and resources, encouraging experimentation, and promoting a learning culture.

By championing agile ways of working and embracing change, leaders inspire and motivate their teams to adapt to new approaches, ultimately driving business agility and achieving favorable outcomes.

Gaining New Skills: Closing the Gap

  1. Individuals and teams need to learn skills like adaptability, critical thinking, and effective communication. These skills are important for navigating the changing business environment, embracing innovation, and meeting customer needs.
  2. To enhance business agility, individuals and teams can acquire new skills through training programs, workshops, and hands-on experience in collaborative projects. They can also seek mentorship from experienced agile practitioners to learn best practices and adopt a mindset of continuous improvement.
  3. Strategies like cross-functional training, role-specific certifications, and peer learning networks can help develop the necessary skills for business agility. Businesses can also create a learning culture that promotes experimentation, knowledge sharing, and open feedback to foster skill development and adaptability among employees.

How to Put Agility into Action

Start Small: One Area at a Time

One effective approach for businesses to become more agile is to apply the concept of “Start Small: One Area at a Time.” By focusing on one specific area or function of the business, organizations can initiate changes and introduce agile practices gradually.

This targeted approach allows for a more manageable transition, reducing the potential disruptions that may occur with large-scale changes. For example, a company can start by implementing agile methodologies within its software development team before expanding these practices to other business functions.

Focusing on one area at a time when implementing business agility brings several benefits. It allows teams to adapt to new ways of working more effectively, leading to greater collaboration, productivity, and efficiency. Additionally, this approach enables businesses to identify and address any challenges or obstacles early on, ensuring a smoother transition to agile practices across the entire organization.

Practical strategies for initiating changes in one area of a business to promote agility include:

  • Providing targeted training and support for employees
  • Establishing clear goals and objectives for the transition
  • Fostering a culture of continuous improvement and experimentation.

By starting small, businesses can lay a strong foundation for broader agility adoption while mitigating risks and maximizing the potential for success.

Stay on Track: Following a Vision and Plan

Staying on track in business agility requires understanding the core “why” behind the transformation. Strategies like SAFe solution can ensure effective implementation in agile practices. Emphasizing core competencies helps organizations stay focused on the vision, fostering rapid learning and favorable outcomes. Benefits include lower costs, higher productivity, and better employee mental health.

Migrating agile ways of working to other business functions is essential for success, with understanding key terms, roles, responsibilities, team structures, and the role of managers being significant in achieving business agility.

Keep Going: Always Be Executing

“Always Be Executing” in the context of business agility means relentlessly pursuing the right work in a timely and efficient manner. It involves embracing agile ways of working to achieve favorable business outcomes.

For example, in software development, it entails delivering valuable features to end-users continuously and iteratively to stay responsive to changing market needs. In broader business functions, it means swiftly adapting to market changes, learning from customer feedback, and iteratively improving products and services to stay competitive. This approach allows organizations to remain adaptable, responsive, and resilient in the face of uncertainty and change, ensuring ongoing success in the marketplace. By adhering to the principle of “Always Be Executing,” businesses can foster high productivity, low costs, and improved employee well-being, all of which are vital for maintaining business agility and achieving long-term success.

The Human Side of Agile

What’s Your Part? Roles and Responsibilities

In an agile business environment, there are three key roles: the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and the Development Team.

The Product Owner’s responsibility is to maximize the product’s value and the work of the Development Team.

The Scrum Master ensures adherence to the Scrum framework and helps resolve any issues that may arise.

The Development Team is responsible for delivering potentially shippable product increments at the end of each Sprint.

Compared to traditional business structures, in an agile environment, roles and responsibilities are more collaborative and cross-functional.

Agile teams are self-organizing, and each member contributes to the project’s success.

This means everyone is collectively responsible for the outcomes, promoting a greater sense of ownership and accountability.

Individuals contribute to a business’s agility by embracing a growth mindset, seeking continuous improvement, and adapting to change efficiently.

Team members work closely together, sharing knowledge and ideas, fostering innovation, responsiveness, and staying competitive in a rapidly changing market.

Bosses Too: Managers in Agile

Managers in Agile businesses need to adjust their management style for the agile environment. They should move from a traditional, top-down approach to a more collaborative and empowering leadership style. This means creating a work environment that promotes innovation, quick decision-making, and cross-functional collaboration. Managers also need to remove obstacles that hinder the team’s progress and ensure the team has all the resources they need to succeed.

Transitioning to Agile can be challenging for managers, who may struggle to let go of control, deal with uncertainty, and trust their team members’ expertise.

Working Together: New Team Structures

New team structures in a business can help collaboration and productivity. They do this by fostering open communication, promoting diverse perspectives, and breaking down silos between departments.

Creating interdisciplinary teams with different skill sets and experiences can increase creativity and problem-solving capabilities. Also, it can lead to higher levels of employee engagement and job satisfaction.

Implementing new team structures in an organization can bring benefits like improved decision-making, faster time to market, and a greater ability to respond to changes in the market.

Best practices for transitioning to new team structures include providing training and support for employees, creating a clear roadmap, and ensuring that the organizational culture supports collaboration and teamwork.

Real-Life Examples of Agile Businesses

The Food Delivery Hero

The Food Delivery Hero started as a small local business. It quickly expanded into a global company by being agile. This means they constantly evaluate market demands and adapt their processes and services accordingly.

The Food Delivery Hero has succeeded as an agile business because they embrace change, foster rapid learning, and promote a collaborative work environment. They swiftly respond to customer needs and market trends and are committed to continuous improvement.

The Animal Health Innovator

Animal health innovators face challenges in implementing business agility. This is due to the traditional nature of the industry and resistance to change. Navigating complex regulatory requirements and scientific research processes adds to these challenges.

To overcome these obstacles, animal health innovators can foster a culture of continuous improvement, embrace innovation, and promote cross-functional collaboration. By incorporating agile methods like Scrum and Kanban, they can prioritize and execute critical projects. This can also enhance decision-making processes and rapidly respond to market demands.

Implementing Agile Portfolio Management practices can ensure efficient resource allocation to deliver high-impact projects. By putting agility into action, animal health innovators can improve time-to-market for new products, increase customer satisfaction, and drive long-term sustainability in the industry.

The Entertainment Giant

The Entertainment Giant has made changes to stay flexible in business. They have embraced agile ways of working and adopted agile methodologies like Scrum and Kanban. They believe in cross-functional teams, where members have diverse skills and work together. They focus on making quick decisions and developing processes in stages to be fast and cross-functional. This helps them respond quickly to market changes and customer needs while adding value to their stakeholders.

However, The Entertainment Giant faces challenges like resistance to change from traditional structures and lack of understanding of agile principles among their employees. To fix this, they’re providing extensive training and coaching to educate their employees about agile ways of working. They have also reorganized their teams and roles to match agile methods. This creates a culture of always getting better and being innovative at the company.

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