Agility is Having the Courage to Make Fast Decisions

The tech industry is constantly challenged by disruption, and leaders know that they must adopt an agile and open mindset. These qualities have often been touted by tech companies as one of the most important traits which have helped bring innovation and digitization to the frontlines of the Covid-19 battlefield.

However, despite increasing awareness around the significant benefits of agile practices, a 2019 report by Accenture and Agility Health found that average maturity levels among businesses are still low.

With current uncertainties, businesses need to find a way to resume their pace in a post-COVID-19 world. According to PwC, agile communication practices are listed as one of the key steps for businesses to mitigate the impact.

Unpredictability and change are the only constant in the long term, and an agile organisation will equip businesses to deal with looming challenges.

Agility is the Product of a Cohesive Ecosystem

Being agile ensures that an idea is refined and delivered incrementally. It gives the ability to effectively apply contributions from all levels of an organisation’s ecosystem, to develop a product/solution to better fit the needs of end-users and to foster more effective ways of working.

Agility focuses on team collaboration and caters to shifting goals and requirements when plans change.

The ability to be agile stems from a community with a cohesive and common culture. It is essentially adopting a people-first approach, which values positive peer behaviour and a high-trust environment over rules, processes, or hierarchy. It also works to the benefit of a larger partner ecosystem.

A cohesive partner ecosystem presents transparent communication between individual businesses. This allows them to tap into each other’s expertise and resources, in pursuit of joint offerings that can better benefit the customer.

How to Overcome Challenges to Being Agile

Organisations usually face these challenges when it comes to being agile: breaking up siloed teams, low-risk appetite, and the ability to move beyond ambitious goals. How can these be addressed in the current landscape where teams work remotely and are focused on putting out daily fires?

First, leaders need to think beyond just output, to also facilitate relationships within the teams and other groups. This open communication is key for effective collaboration. Working more from home also adds to the demands of achieving cross-boundary successes.

Establish routines that encourage teammates to stay connected but make sure that virtual meetings don’t become a distraction and create an illusion of productivity. While fostering real-time connections through digital tools can break down social walls and help team relationships feel less virtual, it’s crucial that internal and external calls are focused on essential updates.

Second, leaders can unintentionally fall into the trap of prematurely killing new ideas because of the risks involved, especially in the current climate. They need to carefully consider new ideas that foster an organisation’s balance between risks and expected returns by setting a clear criterion for taking ideas forward with an open line of communication.

The Courage to Reassess and Pivot

What I have learned during the pandemic was to be courageous in making fast decisions, to reassess new and ongoing projects regularly together with my team, to adapt to new developments swiftly. This meant that our employees were well-equipped to implement new contact centre structures, webinars and virtual trainings that support our customers and partners remotely.

Third, disruptive events such as the pandemic generate new tasks across the business. Leaders need to continually clarify goals to stay true to the long-term course.

These goals align an organisation’s ecosystem, ensuring an agile structure can work, especially during uncertain times. Leaders need to articulate big-picture goals, explain why these are important to the company and encourage their team to achieve them.

Teams should have a clear understanding of the objectives, their individual roles, and how each person contributes to the outcome. Successful remote teams can thereby measure the right metrics, engage all team members, and foster accountability.

Ultimately, a combination of these three factors will help organisations better develop a culture of nimble collaboration ­- a core foundation of the agile practice.

In the words of Leon C. Megginson, “it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself”.

Read the full article by Benjamin Low that was published 20 June 2020 in INDVSTRVS.