I’m very biased by the term ‘agility’ because it’s also my bread and butter. So keep that in mind when you read on. To me agility today is about everything we do. Things were predictable. Not anymore. Whole countries get locked up in a matter of days. Economies go up and down. Businesses revive and die because of the pandemic.
The only way to deal with all these changes is to move along with them. A canal flows in a straight line to 1 direction. A river flows until it reaches a big rock and then changes direction. We need to be like a river.
What Means Being Agile in a True Agile Organization?
One of the main questions is WHAT people work on from one day to the next. Most people prefer stability. They want a clear role with clear expectations and measurements telling them whether they’re doing okay. If we ask them to work on something else, they start feeling uncomfortable. If we expect them to decide what to work on, based on what they believe needs doing, most freeze.
What we want to move towards in a true agile organization is ‘fluid roles’ and ‘work on the most important priorities’. This means, per quarter (or month or week), we decide what’s the highest impact work. Then we group into teams and start working on those priorities. We don’t cling to roles and ‘this is not my accountability or problem’.
In Ekipa, we have a couple of principles that help us in that direction:
- We each have full responsibility for the organization. If we sense that something needs to happen, we have a duty to address it. It’s not acceptable to limit our concern to the remit of roles.
- All power is with the team. There is no formal hierarchy, we abandon the traditional system. There are no bosses to turn to. Teams decide what they focus on, how they achieve outcomes and how they solve problems.
- Roles are fluid. We have no job descriptions. Every co-worker is free to create, modify or remove roles. If you think something adds value to your team’s purpose, you own it and move it forward. Once a week, we organize an overall team retrospective. During this event, the teams discuss the current roles and propose additions, improvements, modifications.
If the environment changes because of the pandemic, the priorities must change for many companies. Examples are ‘suddenly working from home’ or ‘making our services digital’ or ‘coming up with new products because our old products don’t generate money anymore’.
Once the priorities are defined, we all must recognize that this is what we must work on (not the old stuff). And then team up and get going. Although there are many structures and habits pushing against this, we need this today. Is your organization ready to start agile? Get my latest book below!