As organizations grow to critical mass it is often hard to derive and sustain the types of changes that are necessary to remain competitive. The larger and more structured the organization, typically the less entrepreneurial, nimble and adaptable they are to necessary change. Inability to design, develop and/or launch new initiatives; resistance to new technology, ideas or innovations regardless of the benefit; and radical resistance to reforming past practices no matter how obsolete are clear signs that your organization may be in this state.
The inability to adapt is the prime ingredient to an organization losing its market position or relevance to a competitor or even a market substitute. If a company is adaptable, nimble and innovative it is considered to be agile. Believe it or not, there are general steps to take that can help any organization to be agile.
First popular among software development companies, the Agile approach is swiftly being adopted by companies that prize innovation and ideation. Agile makes it easier for businesses to adapt and evolve in particularly disruptive times. Let’s take a look at what the “Agile” approach to innovation and ideation is — and why it can benefit a business.
What is the Agile Approach to Innovation?
Agile is an iterative, continuous approach to solution delivery. Agile supports innovation at all times, at all levels. At every stage of a change effort, the outcome is assessed. Does it still meet requirements? What challenges have been faced? How can processes be changed to ensure that the solution or change is delivered on time, on budget, and to specification? Because Agile is an inherently flexible process, it allows for the organization to pivot as needed based on the results that it has acquired so far.
Benefits of the Agile Approach
Google, Apple, Toyota — these are all companies that have worked with the Agile methodology, including Kanban and Scrum. GE used the Agile approach to transform itself into a modern company; Google uses the Agile approach to iterate through multiple versions of products, constantly evolve new products, and move away from products that will not be successful. The core benefit of the Agile approach is that it allows the organization to innovate faster. Corporations can move along with the market, and the entire company can innovate and create together.
The Key Competencies Needed for Agile
Companies need to be prepared to embrace change. Leadership has to be strong, and teams have to work well together. Agile is inherently empowering. Individuals are empowered to innovate and act. It is possible that product directions or even company directions may change suddenly; to avoid losing momentum, the rest of the company will need to move with them. Despite this, the actual processes of Agile are rigorous — they have to be for this change to remain controlled. Therefore, critical skills include project management and communication.
Challenges to Adopting the Agile System
Agile invokes a significant amount of change quite quickly, and not all employees are readily able to adapt to this. Without the right leadership, project management, and communication, it’s easy for an entire system to fall apart. Without the right processes and controls, companies under Agile can suffer from “runaway innovation/ideation,” which can ultimately lead to poorly-formed end solutions or drastic increases in scope.
What does a company really need to become Agile? Agile is a robust strategy replete with best practices, tools, and methodologies. Companies interested in changing their infrastructure to an Agile one will need the correct data management expertise, processes and business practices. To find out more about the benefits of Agile, contact the experts at Starr & Associates.