Technology, globalization, the environment and society are more closely linked than ever before: Technological advances are driving globalization, changing our environment and influencing society which in turn calls for new solutions to these challenges. This cycle is happening at an increasing pace and is making our world ever more complex. The COVID-19 pandemic is just one current example of a change with complex global consequences.
With all this complexity, we personally feel how difficult it is to keep up with the speed of change. It's easy to feel lost. As change agents we see other people and companies feeling the same way.
That’s why people are looking for ways to better deal with this complexity, to make better use of opportunities, to control risks more effectively and keep or improve their competitiveness. This is where agility comes into play and is on everyone’s lips these days. The Agile Manifesto will soon be 20 years old, and Scrum was first introduced 25 years ago. Yet, many people and companies still struggle to increase their agility. You don’t have to be an Agile Coach to see this, you can see this from just being a normal customer to almost any company. We believe this is a great opportunity to present some tips on how you can increase the agility of your team and organization.
Before that, we’d like to create a common understanding of the term "agility" and demystify this buzzword. We developed this definition, which we think will help us do this.
Agility is the skill to develop customer value from customer needs flexibly, creatively and quickly, while controlling risks in complex environments.
Agility is not an innate talent, but a skill that anyone who is willing to work on themselves can learn and grow. Agility means focusing on customers and their needs, developing solutions for them and as a result creating customer value. The term "develop" is often misunderstood and equated with "IT" or "programming" but really means that a solution will emerge from the process of creating it.
Agile teams are likely to face change during the development of a solution. For example, customer needs, technologies and market conditions may change - or the understanding of them may change. Agile teams react flexibly and quickly and try to use these changes in a way that will increase customer value.
Especially at the beginning of product development, both the solutions and the customer needs may not be fully known and understood. This could be because you’re working on a new solution involving technologies you haven’t worked with before or because customers often only learn what they really need when a product is put into their hands. The sooner agile teams can provide their customers with a usable, potentially valuable solution, the sooner they can learn together with their customers whether that solution really has customer value. That’s why agile teams develop products in short, frequent intervals and deliver increments to their customers early and continuously. That way, they optimize value and control their risk of wasting resources on something that eventually is of little value to the customer.
Whether you already use any agile practices today or you don’t, we’d like to give you 15 tips on how you can increase the agility of your team and organization.