The ever-changing reality of regulations and new advances in technology make it more important than ever before that companies adopt a strategy of agility. Many companies, though, report that they find such a goal to be elusive.
What Does an Agile Workplace Look Like? –
In an agile workplace culture, there are stable elements that do not change much, and there are elements of the workplace culture that are able to change rapidly and effectively as needed. Each team is provided guidance by their leader that they can act upon each day that has an outcome that moves their dynamic strategy towards fruition.
A key issue in agile development in finding the fine line between stable practices and dynamism is to have employees who are affected by a change be involved in the decision process about the change. Another means of keeping information flowing is to have units in the company share with other units the projects they are currently working on. Also, workers in an agile workplace culture believe in a mutually shared vision and are entrepreneurial.
Another sign of agility is digital platforms, tools, and processes that are shared. In agile workplaces, one sees the ability of most all employees in the organization to access data. This helps workers look at trends and be more entrepreneurial in nature. Also, most agile companies develop new products while in communication with their customer base and get the prototypes in the hands of customers early on in the development process for evaluation and reconsideration. The trend towards agile workplaces actually began in the mobile app development sector, where agile workplaces can crank out highly useful and effective apps in a two week development cycle.
What are the Rewards of an Agile Workplace Culture? –
Those companies that have either their entire workplace or specific units working in an agile fashion perform better than companies and units that are not agile. They are better able to respond to the rapid changes and volatility that are found in most sectors.
Strategies to Achieve Workplace Agility –
Use Agile and Frequent Communication –
Employees that can regularly interact are more likely to be entrepreneurial and can work together to create agile solutions. Agile communication resources include –
Google Docs – Has the ability for employees to work on the same document in real time. Better yet, use Google Docs and Skype in real time, then you have voice and the ability to revise a document in real time.
Slack or Asana – Provides communications with the ability to plan and manage your project
Leaders are Agile –
Leaders become coaches and guides, providing goals that are decided upon with the input of the team members. Top-down insularity in high towers is eschewed. Your employees have quite a bit of insight into how to best do their job. Leaders also keep departments working together and aware of each others’ work, priorities, and progress. Employees are encouraged and required to work with other departments within their organizations to solve problems as a team.
Agile Companies Learn from Errors –
Agile companies welcome errors as learning experiences that all can benefit from, rather than ignoring them, sweeping them under the rug, denying them, or focusing upon blame. Entrepreneurialism is about being willing to take a risk and being willing to fail in order to learn and grow.
Keep the Teams Small –
Small teams, where everyone knows one another and everyone is responsible, help members work through change together and keep everyone accountable. This helps leaders focus upon daily concrete goals that everyone has had a hand in deciding upon. Also, it is important to create and utilize ice-breaker activities that get the team members to learn about each other as people so that they can more effectively work together.
Keep the Customer as Your Focus –
Agile companies have the customer base as their prime focus. Customers are a part and parcel of the development of new products and get their hands on prototypes as soon as possible so that they can provide feedback and allow for revision. Agile companies develop and encourage the skills of their employees to make decisions regarding interactions with customers.
Be Willing to Hire Remote Employees –
Agile companies, using the communication resources described above, can hire employees who live anywhere there is internet access. Hiring the best, most entrepreneurial, and agile thinking employees is more important than location.
Agile development in companies requires a new set of skills from both leaders and employees. All need to be willing to work on small teams, work across teams, and communicate frequently both through video conferencing and through applications, such as Google Docs and Slack. Everyone needs to be entrepreneurial and customer-oriented. The door must be wide open for the customer to join in product development. Everyone must be willing to risk, try, fail, re-evaluate, and try again. Leaders become coaches, rather than authoritarians, who listen to employees and allow them to be a part and parcel of every change. Agile companies also feel more humane to work for, which helps retain quality workers.
All of this dynamism and stability creates workplace cultures that can quickly adapt to changes in regulations and technology and keep ahead of one’s competitors, such as in the aforementioned mobile app development sector that can create useful apps in two weeks that are exactly what users need because users provided the input from the beginning of the product development cycle through the earliest prototypes.