Working Agile/Smart

Agile forms of collaboration
Agile organizational development
Development of a new organizational culture

Why do organizations strive for agile forms of collaboration?

Globalization and digitization have changed the world dramatically in the last few years. One consequence is that many no longer make a clear distinction between work and private life. Everything is fluid and the framework conditions have changed drastically. A new attitude to life is becoming more and more apparent "@home".

  • People used to go shopping in stores, now they do online shopping.

  • People used to go to the cinemas, now they stream.

  • People used to go to bars, clubs, discos, etc. to find a partner, but today they meet on online dating platforms.

Young people are increasingly "meeting" on social media and talking or gaming together there. Meeting in person is a secondary option. This is just to name a few things. These young people or young adults are already in business and are bringing this form of "meet and collaborate" into the corporate culture to a greater extent.

 

The way of looking at life has changed enormously, and this has also resulted in new consumer behavior. The 7 x 24-hour reality has arrived at home. This is also reflected in the "What I want, when I want, and where I want!

The demand to be flexible and dynamic

This consumer behavior, which on the one hand is shaped by the organizations themselves, has awakened needs among consumers that can no longer be met with conventional procedures, processes, methods and attitudes. The demand on organizations is to respond to this dynamic and growing environment. Relatively rigid and sluggish ways of working, which sometimes involve long decision-making processes, can no longer meet the demand. Organizations need to become faster and more flexible, that this agility is a competitive advantage.

The technological innovations, the increasing dynamics in the markets and the complexity of the products, the demanding behavior of the customers and the great competition due to globalization are external factors. Internally, it is the bureaucracy, the lack of skilled employees, as well as the change in values and the desire for individualization.

Why Scrum, KANBAN or Design Thinking, Co-Creation are not enough

Reality shows that methods such as Scrum or KANBAN, which are more suitable for certain areas such as projects, cannot achieve a holistic change to agile collaboration in the organization.

Other methods such as Design Thinking, Co-Creation or Human Centered Design are in turn suitable for requirements in which it is important to involve third parties such as customers, suppliers... in the development processes at an early stage. This is because, on the one hand, the customer's wishes are understood earlier and better and one can respond to them better. On the other hand, because more and more suppliers deliver entire systems, components, parts, etc. for the organizations and have a great knowledge, experience, and equipment.

 

Agile collaboration is more of an attitude than a method in organizations. It determines the culture and how employees work together and how managers lead. For example, collaboration forms and processes must be simplified and made more flexible.

Transformation from industrial society to knowledge society

The durability of knowledge has shrunk drastically and at the same time we are experiencing an explosion of available knowledge. A team is very likely to bring together more and more up-to-date knowledge and can compile dependencies, challenges... better and faster than a single person, e.g., the leader and manager. This implies that sharing responsibility is an important aspect in finding and implementing solutions. The different ways of thinking of the employees must necessarily be included. This also means that employees must be given more room to maneuver in order to achieve goals within a shorter period of time. It can be deduced from this that the roles of managers and employees in their collaboration are changing significantly. Managers serve the team, so that creativity, knowledge, experience, and methods are used in a focused manner.

 

The following illustration shows how the roles (tasks, responsibilities, and authority to act) change in the context of agile collaboration. In the process, leading and managing are given a new definition in terms of who does what in an agile collaboration or in an agile team.

Leadership and agile collaboration

While leaders and managers are increasingly focusing on the mid- and long-term aspects, such as vision and alignment, as well as strategy and cultural development, team members are increasingly taking on the day-to-day business. They organize themselves, plan their tasks and implement them independently. This is always done within the framework of teamwork and in a network with other departments and experts.

Leaders and managers resolve the obstacles and ensure that team members have access to resources such as information, knowledge, finances, time, materials, training, methods, etc., so that they can perform their tasks independently.

Agile organizations require more leadership and less management from executives.

If leaders and managers understand this and can get rid of the fear of "I'm becoming redundant" that often exists in their heads, the basis for agile collaboration is given. In agile organizations, leadership is more important than ever, because leadership is a central pillar of the organizational culture.

The reason why leadership is so important in agile organizations is the self-organization and self-management of the teams and team members. If they do not receive the framework conditions such as orientation, clarity, support, network, etc. from the leadership, the purest chaos arises within a short time.

Every advantage also has a disadvantage and every disadvantage also has an advantage! The question is whether we want to see the other side of the coin and can see it?

How agile organizations evolve

An agile organization or agile collaboration is recognized by the fact that explorative procedures are observed, learning becomes a central point in the development and the teams organize and control themselves. This means that agile organizations do not simply develop through projects that are implemented according to KANBAN or Scrum methods. It may not make sense for every department and team to practice agile working methods.

Rather, it is important that the entire organization, across all hierarchical levels, adopts an agile mindset and aligns itself with it. Maybe today there is no need for an agile way of working for team A, but there is for team B. Due to the dynamic environment, this can change quickly and therefore everyone must have an agile mindset. Otherwise, one will miss the advantage of being earlier, better, and more present on the market through the respective development time to become agile.

 

VUCA is a proven and promising methodology to describe and capture the dynamic environment and to develop solutions to deal with it.

It is the responsibility of the leaders and managers to be role models and ambassadors of the agile mindset. This is not always that easy because the values of the organization have to change. Not written down, but often deeply anchored in the culture, such values can be found in organizations, for example:

  • Enforcement of attitudes (doctrine) and decisions carved in granite.

  • Winning to gain prestige and power.

  • Hoarding knowledge and not making yourself redundant.

  • Respect for performance and compensation.

  • Order, structure, and rules.

  • Tradition and security through the organization.

  • Loyalty and discipline.

Agile organizations can only emerge when these values change to make room for:

  • Creating an overarching purpose to which the organization (employees) is aligned.

  • Try out possibilities of unconventional approaches.

  • Self-responsibility and -organization with regard to the team and achievement of tasks.

  • Customer orientation and involvement in product development.

  • Focus on value-adding work.

  • Promotion, appreciation, and inclusion of distributed competencies.

  • Open and clear communication, conflict culture, and management.

  • Trust in the abilities of others and relationship orientation.

  • Openness, flexibility, and space for innovation.

  • Acquisition and sharing of information, experience, and knowledge.

  • Understanding of quality in terms of products and employees.

  • Mindfulness in dealing with oneself and others.

  • Learning from failures and not sanctioning people who, for example, have the courage and dare to do something.

What we can do for you

We guide and support you in the transformation to an agile organization. We do this by clarifying the following success factors:

  • What is your current situation?

  • Where do you want to go and why do you want to achieve this?

  • How necessary and realistic is this intention?

  • We develop a transformation concept that is tailored to your needs in order to achieve the goals.

  • We implement the transformation concept together with you using agile methods and procedures.

  • The results are applied in the first area (pilot) suitable for this.

  • Change begins to occur - nothing is as constant as change - let's get ready for it.

Use our knowledge and experience to become more successful. In an initial discussion, we will be happy to provide you with details on digital transformation and answer any questions you may have.

For more information, please contact us.

All services and training courses are offered in English and German.