Agile methodologies or business agility: what software developers have adapted all over the world is now making its way into business management. What is agile business, and how can you become truly agile? Is it just another trendy buzzword, or should you really bother with it? Read on.
The Agile Manifesto
It all started on a ski holiday: In 2001, a couple of passionate software developers, independent thinkers and proponents of their so-called Extreme Programming methodologies met in the Wasatch mountains of Utah to ski, relax – and talk about their ideas. They came up with what they called the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, describing the following four agile core values:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
The goal was to enable software developers to be more creative and adaptive to an ever changing environment; to create software that really works and empowers their users. Since then, agile methodologies have been expanded by concepts such as Scrum, lean management or user storytelling, which have been embraced over many IT departments all over the world.
Part of its success is due to an almost paradigmatic shift towards the user and the actual environment, enabled through close and constant collaboration across cultures and disciplines. Instead of writing an abstract concept and sticking to it no matter what, developers engage in a continuous dialogue with what’s needed and what works, discussing obstacles and finding new solutions. A strategy that can make your business more resilient and successful, as well.
What is Business agility?
According to the Agile Business Consortium White Paper, business agility wants to:
“enable businesses and individuals to be more adaptive, creative and resilient when dealing with complexity, uncertainty and change.”
Business agility isn’t just a new management buzzword; it might well be the answer to the challenges of an ever changing business environment today. But it requires a deep cultural shift, focussing on the human beings that create, manage and use your product. Just like a bunch of developers don’t become agile overnight by simply using a Kanban board. A truly agile business needs to change its DNA. Which, as scientists have pointed out, is happening in nature: DNA can and will adapt to changes in environments – and you can make this happen in your business, too.
Business agility for your small business
Being agile means being able to respond to change fast. If you’re embarking on a marketing project today, the landscape of communication might have changed by the time the project is done. It doesn’t make sense to write a concept now, and have your people work on it for a couple of month to bring your ideas to life. To be truly adaptive, you need a structure that enables you to set smaller goals, always monitoring your environment and adjusting to it. But how to get there?
How to become truly agile
First of all, you need a strong core of highly motivated people who are not afraid to take risks, come forward with new ideas and feel they are adding value through their work. As a business owner and leader, you need to put the people first, supporting them rather that give orders.
Trust and transparency are among the key features of agile success. Trust your people and hand over responsibilities. Let them choose their own pace and use flexible hours, and you will earn loyalty. Create a culture of communication where everyone can speak up and new ideas are welcome – even if they challenge your deepest convictions.
Don’t abandon your goals, but break up your projects into smaller tasks. Don’t try to achieve perfection, but keep perfecting your product on the way. Collaborate, don’t delegate – and always, always stay in the know what’s really going on with your team.
We can help!
With our project management features, you can group tasks in to projects or create subtasks. Thanks smart message integration, you all communicate in real-time – wherever you are, on your laptop, your tablet or your phone.
Now all you have to do is to get to work, and create something of real value for the rest of us. Thank you in advance.