As we start to see the glimmer of hope beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, and think about what the future holds, it would seem a good time to reflect and take stock of your organization’s ability to be lean, thrifty and yet continue to expand and deliver first class products and customer service. Most, if not all, organizations will be facing challenges that simply didn’t exist at the beginning of the year. A squeeze in investment, met with increasing customer demand, will force companies to be nimble, focused, efficient, and make sure they focus in the things that matter the most. We’ve had to work faster and better than ever before to match the dramatic shifts in customer expectations, and these new standards for agility will overturn old ideals to create healthier and more resilient businesses.
What is a health check?
A healthy organization is positioned for long-term success. While some leaders may overlook organizational health, because they lack a clear way to measure and improve it, getting quantifiable, subjective feedback about your business from the inside out will help to:
- Understand the nimbleness and efficiency of your organization
- Identify your ability to rapidly react to changing conditions
- Focus efforts towards developing capabilities in the areas that need most attention
With COVID-19 breaking apart business systems, the agile methodology offers the speed, autonomy, and collaboration that organizations need to weather the economic storm. With this in mind, we recommend doing a swift health check to determine where you sit on the agile journey right now, and identify areas that need improvement. Below, we’ve offered a simple traffic light system across the six P’s of agile to help you get started. Which statements do you most identify with?
1. Product management
An ideal product-mode team is an empowered, outcome-oriented, business-capability aligned team that is able to solve problems, rather than deliver scope on schedule. Are you clear on your vision, strategy and roadmap, and able to ensure solution delivery is directed and governed to the things that matter the most?
2. People and culture
It has become clear that a flatter organization with dynamic teams is often the most effective and scalable way to build resiliency into business operations – one where people are encouraged to experiment and iterate to seek ways of improving process and customer outcomes, and ‘win or learn fast’ is encouraged. Are your teams self-managing and afforded the right degree of autonomy and decision making in a culture of learning, innovation and psychological safety?
An MVP (minimum viable product) approach releases benefit much quicker than traditional projects and helps fund future iterations, and enables analysis of customer feedback to decide where future funding is best invested. Is there clear lineage between delivery and strategy in your business, and are you using data driven insights to deliver MVPs, drive iterations and inform decision making?
In order to keep up with the short release cycles of an agile organization, having a test automation process in hand is essential for making sure that each time a product is shipped, it’s shipped with the highest possible quality. To what degree are you leveraging the latest technical standards and practices, automation and processes to assure rapid, high quality of technical delivery?
Without working closely with the business unit, agile technology teams will never fully realize the benefits of agile at scale. The development process should keep the organizational goals and objectives in mind as part of each iteration and release; in addition to the next sprint, are you clear on where you are headed and what is needed to get you there?
Agile shouldn’t be limited to technology teams only. Sustainable and optimal benefits will most likely be realized if the entire organization is on the journey, adopting agility throughout and thinking as one to solve your customer’s needs. What do your metrics tell you across the golden triangle of business value, customer engagement and satisfaction, and operational and delivery efficiency?
As we come though the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic situation will likely demand efficiency, focused investment where it matters the most, and the ability to rapidly change to meet customer needs and competitor challenges. Organizational agility is a key lever towards survival, growth and prosperity in these difficult times.
Shaun has been at Infosys Consulting since 2012, heading up our Agile European Center of Enablement and our Agile Transformation horizontal practice. Over his 30 years of experience in financial services, he has led large-scale organizational agility and change management projects for prominent businesses – most notably a global cards and payments provider and a leading UK retail bank.