A few months ago, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world unexpectedly. The resulting corona crisis clearly shows which organizations have already internalized agility in their attitude, culture and processes and which have not. Even if agility is not a magic tool for everything and coping with the effects of the crisis, the question still arises: Can companies that have increasingly relied on agility in the past deal better with the new circumstances and come out of the crisis? To find answers to this, a study was set up with the Agile Pulse. It gives an insight into the agile cultural change of the organizations and gives clues as to how far the agile thought has already manifested itself.
The investigation showed that agile methods are already widely used. According to the survey, over 90 percent of those questioned use agile methods. In many cases, however, the use of agile processes is limited to individual areas, such as IT (87 percent), to projects and primarily to the team level (95 percent). More than 50 percent of those surveyed have a maximum of three years of experience with agile methods. It becomes apparent that the longer organizations work with agile methods, the greater the benefit. The main reasons given for the introduction of agile methods were increased flexibility (82 percent) and speed (68 percent). These values show how important agile methods are now in a crisis.
According to the study, corporate culture (69 percent) in particular represents the biggest hurdle in agile transformation, that is, the anchoring of the agile mindset and the agile principles in everyday life. Here, however, crises such as the current corona virus could serve as a drive to initiate significant changes in the organizational culture. However, the study reveals that the agile level of maturity of most organizations tends to be at a medium level. Particularly with important agile principles such as customer focus, error culture and forms of self-organization, the characteristics are still weak, but they would be immensely valuable in times of crisis.
The study also reveals a connection between maturity and organizational form. Organizations with network-like organizational forms show higher maturity levels in all questions. The study also showed that companies that have internalized agile organizational forms achieve a significantly higher level of innovation. It is also becoming apparent that companies that have made innovation part of their DNA will emerge from the crisis more successfully. More than two thirds of the respondents therefore believe that agility will play an even more important role in the future and that its relevance will continue to increase.
We are convinced that organizations that are already focusing on agility before the COVID 19 crisis can start again faster, better and more successfully. But why is that? The following reasons speak for this:
Simplified processes while avoiding non-value-adding activities: Agile organizations are characterized by high end-to-end process responsibility, lean processes, high process automation and standardization. Many organizations have or will start cost reduction programs. The lighter and standardized processes are, the more cost-effective organizations can operate.
Simplified control logic: Organizations that can control more flexibly depending on changes in priority are better able to react quickly to changed parameters in times of crisis. Organizations with inflexible controls and rigid budget policies may miss new opportunities that arise from the crisis.
Simplified organizational structure: Agile organizations are characterized by the fact that the value chain consistently builds responsible, autonomous and cross-functional teams and breaks down departmental boundaries. In times of crisis, agile organizations benefit from better collaboration across teams, departments or business units. Interdisciplinary networks and communities ensure a better exchange.
Higher degree of innovation: Interdisciplinary teams act as incubators for innovative ideas and approaches. In addition, agile organizations often have open ecosystems and benefit from this network in times of crisis.
Quick responsiveness and flexibility: It is important to see the crisis as an opportunity and, as stated in the Agile Manifesto, to welcome changes. Structures and processes such as agile portfolio management or objectives and key results help to continuously re-evaluate. Agile organizations work iteratively with a lot of feedback loops and the constant questioning and reacting to change is part of their DNA.
Customer proximity and customer focus: Especially in times of crisis, it is necessary to act in a more targeted manner according to customer needs. Quick feedback is extremely valuable here. As an organization, it is also necessary to consciously enter the market with partial products in order to be able to take account of any customer requests or adaptations early enough.
High level of self-organization and delegation of decisions to the teams: Teams that are used to making decisions themselves are more flexible and better prepared in times of crisis. Organizations whose management relies heavily on self-organization and have largely delegated decision-making powers to the agile teams are faster, which is an immense advantage even in times of crisis.
New leadership style: Managers are particularly challenged in times of crisis and benefit from skills that are typical of agile organizations. Strong and open communication can remove worries and insecurities and provide psychological security. Managers who succeed in establishing a sustainable error culture not only promote continuous learning, but also ensure that employees are ready to make decisions and take risks. They encourage employees to think outside the box – a point that can contribute to success in times of crisis.
Technology leadership: Agile organizations are characterized by technological leadership and the use of modern state-of-the-art technologies. Organizations that have started to convert their core systems to a micro-service architecture with loosely coupled services before the crisis and have promoted the use of continuous integration systems are able to produce faster and more independently and continuously release publish.
A number of organizations have implemented many of these features before the crisis or are in the process of doing so. Even if a forecast of the future is uncertain, the study has shown that the measures taken will help these organizations to overcome the crisis more successfully. (pg / fm)
- Generate constructive conflicts and criticism
“Conflict” does not have to be negative. It can also have a positive impact if it is used constructively in an agile team. IT management consultant Ivan Kovynyov gives tips on how managers can create a posi
tive conflict culture in a team and thus improve performance and project success.
- Form a heterogeneous team
You need a heterogeneous team. For example, if the team consisted exclusively of middle-aged white men, it is foreseeable that they will all have a similar style of thinking.
- Conflict-free team building
Team members should already have met and worked together. It would be counterproductive to start the team building phase with a constructive conflict.
- Remove impediments
Barriers to freedom of expression in the team must be identified and removed: irrational need for harmony, excessive consensus orientation, strong opinion leaders, warehouse building, authoritarian project manager or product owner, zero-error tolerance, targets contain solutions, etc.
- Take the right path
The middle way is not always the best way: if one wants to pass the tree on the left and the other on the right, the way through the middle is obviously not the best.
- Define consensus rules
Seek a qualified consensus: Rules have to be defined for situations in which the team does not reach an agreement. For example, the team calls an independent expert or the project manager or the product owner to decide.
- Set common goal
Common goals as Nordstern: Debates can easily separate participants from an agile team. A common understanding of the goal and the mission of the team creates the opposite and has a balancing effect.
- Humorous handling
When all else fails: humor always helps!