The jungle of agile methods is so big that you can easily get lost in it. Some methods such as Scrum, Design thinking, OKR are better known and used more often. But here, too, companies experience that complete introduction of e.g. Scrum is associated with too much set of rules for some employee groups and therefore is impractical. To achieve quick wins, it would be helpful to know and apply the principles behind it.
So, we got down to work at MDI to filter out the principles behind the main agile methods. We came across 3 main principles: Transparency, iteration, and empowerment (TIE)
Behind each lie a few detail principles:
- Visualization and if possible making it tangible
- Simplicity and standardization in the method
- Early and continuous delivery
- Experimenting is more important than detailed planning
- Frequent evaluation and incremental solution development
- Short work cycles (time-boxed) and prototyping
- Fail fast to succeed sooner
- Lean management and continuous improvement
- Lateral leadership is more important than hierarchical guidance
- intrinsic instead of extrinsic motivation
- focus on the purpose
- Multidisciplinary team focus instead of lone fighters
The 3 principles behind agile tools – empowerment, iteration & transparency can be a good starting point for successfully managing your way through the agile jungle
Many companies are agile in their corporate culture. The 3 Principles (TIE) are a good starting point to tie an agile leadership and corporate culture. As a check-in we can start with a position determination in which we ask ourselves as a person/ team/organization the following questions:
How transparent are we?
- Can e.g. everyone in the company see the goals and goals achievement of everybody else including the CEO?
- Is there clear visibility on which projects are currently being worked on and does everybody have the opportunity to provide input?
- Do we have clear internal processes for structuring everyday business? (e.g. Kanban Board, Daily Stand-Ups, Meeting Structure, …)
How iterative do we proceed?
- Do we first want a perfect solution before we show it to the customer or is the (internal or external) customer regularly involved in the development of the solution?
- Do we make regular interim evaluations?
- Are we open to adapting our solution to changing requirements during the process?
How much empowerment do we allow?
- Is our leadership more based on convincing and commitment, or hierarchical authority?
- Are our employees motivated by autonomy, mastery, and purpose (DRIVE)?
- Are our teams organized in an interdisciplinary and autonomous way to work as efficiently as possible on a project?
In addition, we can use these main principles to make the training and development concept of a company fit for digital transformation. By e.g. evaluating if and how these principles are currently used in the
- Competency Model
- leadership and cooperation principles/rules of play
- and possibly even in company values.
If e.g. an automobile producer defines himself by perfection and thus needs long innovation cycles, it will make sense to consider to what extent iteration should replace the delivery of perfect solutions.
Or if confidentiality plays a central role in the financial service, then it might make sense to create a culture of transparency in at least some areas, where e.g. MbO is replaced by OKR (insert link to past blog).
As a third example, let’s take a look at retail: Here, in many businesses, it is common for a small number of head office employees to define the processes and rules for many thousands of employees in the stores. A shift towards empowerment means at least interaction on eye-level and a much greater involvement of employees at the point of sale.
What serves you next?
The world we live and work in is constantly changing, due to the digitalization and globalization. Changes are happening so fast that we can barely build on a solid ground. To lead your company successful through this digital disruption it is essential to keep an eye on the approaching waves of change. Gunther Fürstberger explained what you need to successfully respond to those changes.
At the beginning of 2017, we started to implement agile methods at MDI. The first method we introduced was the agile goalsetting system OKR (Objective and Key Results). Since then, we tried out many other agile methods and learned many new things. Being inspired by the story map of HR Pioneers, we as well visualized a “Change journey map” and looked back on almost two years agile leadership at MDI.