The Agile Mindset: Getting business evolution right. 

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Following the pandemic, as organisations across the globe were urged to drive their digital agenda to adapt their way of working, many tech companies benefited from the universal need for their products and services. In fact, some of the tech giants, which were initially worried about how Covid-19 and the ensuing restrictions may affect them, reported record revenues. And it wasn’t just the big tech companies that benefited during that period. Smaller scale tech companies were also growing faster and became more profitable than they had been in years.

Does this mean that tech companies have emerged invincible and stronger than ever after the pandemic and will continue to grow? Enter 2023 and it’s not looking that likely. A jittery market braced for recession coupled with ongoing skills and labour shortages and retention issues means that these days the tech industry is more focused on dealing with challenging times ahead rather than growth. And judging from the thousands of jobs which were recently slashed by big tech companies, it looks like the tech industry is bracing itself for a downturn. 

With all that in mind, it’s more than likely that 2023 will be a year when many tech players will be prioritising the consolidation of existing processes, leaner operations and making the most of their human capital. The question is, how can they do this without compromising their growth journey and without losing sight of how they can continuously add value to their customers? The answer is simple: Agile can help them do that. The implementation of Agile? Not so simple. Or at least it isn’t for organisations that doesn’t fully understand how to make it an integral part of their evolution. 

Agile has been used across industries, from manufacturing to IT, for a while now and yet there are many misinterpretations of what it is and how it can be of particular relevance to the tech sector right now. If the success of the tech sector relies on doing what it currently does but more efficiently while retaining its talent, then it should go beyond Agile practices which simply focus on how everything works. It needs a complete mindset pivot that embeds Agile into the organisational culture and trickles it down and across the organisational matrix. Changing the way teams work should only be part of this process, deep diving into its cultural roots to become a truly Agile organisation is where the real evolution happens. The first step to growth and evolution is accepting that there is a need for change. Only once this reset has taken place can leaders look into how to truly cultivate trust in their organisations and give teams the freedom to experiment and innovate. 

The original Agile Manifesto, which was created over 20 years ago, focused on four core values which included: responding to change rather than following a plan, individuals over processes, working software over comprehensive documentation and customer collaboration over contract negotiation. In today’s environment, these values can only take the tech industry so far, especially since most tech companies have a wider scope than just offering tech solutions. Getting started and succeeding in the road of optimum Agility takes strong and committed leaders who want to implement change across the organisation’s ethos and culture and are willing to make allowances for teams to adapt and give them what’s needed to succeed while supporting those who may not share the same vision. And they can only do that through trust and transparency. 

Adopting these values is what can lead to continuous growth. Agile organisations and teams are always looking for avenues to become more efficient and effective in a sustainable way and have the culture to adapt accordingly. In truly Agile organisations, the growth focus is not purely on product development and service delivery and is not siloed away in teams which are traditionally responsible for those areas. Continuous improvement and experimenting with new ways of working, measuring, learning and adapting are the cornerstones of cross-functional, high-performing teams. This doesn’t mean steering clear of systems, quite the opposite. Continuous improvement should rely upon teams that adopt a systemised approach using key data points and relevant feedback sources to identify and make changes. 

The first step to embracing the Agile mindset is to start with what you have. Take a step back from the operation and look at the steps required to optimise and improve. The great thing about Agile is that its versatility is the perfect match for fast-moving industries. It can be adapted into any scenario, team and service area. It gives teams on the ground the power to make decisions and offer insight that feeds into growth plans and it gives leadership teams a full view of the organisation. And it’s this 360° perspective that allows organisations to brace for bumps on the road and emerge stronger, driving real value to their stakeholders.

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Steve Martin

CEO, Agilisti.

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