Agile is very much the buzz phrase of the moment in most organisations, it can be confusing at times when new ideas emerge like agile working, especially if you work in a Digital or Technology role where agile methodology means something completely different.
Due to the nature of working in Communications, you often find that you are required to be in different places depending on the project or task you are working on. So, becoming an agile worker has really formalised an existing way of working for me.
But as more organisations lean towards more agile ways of working, it has got me thinking about what do we exactly mean by ‘agile’ – for me, it isn’t just about where and when you work – it is about how you work as well.
I am currently engaged in my first agile project that is looking to redesign and develop a new homepage for Intranet, and it is giving me some great insight into how agile delivery can bring ideas and concepts to life quickly – and increase the pace of change.
We all have different working styles and it is a mix of those that make up a successful organisation; if you are working a breakneck speed you need the checks and balances in place to make sure that governance isn’t forgotten.
When I look at my own working style, my preference is to work at speed, with the aim of brining an idea or concept to life in ‘real time’ – using the agile method of ‘test and learn’ as I go. This can sometimes mean that things don’t work, and the risk of failure can be higher, but from my perspective the risk of reward always outweighs the risk of failure. You have to be prepared to fail at times.
Learning as you go
I can think of two recent projects that I have led with an agile mindset. The first of those was the early pilot of Yammer, which has been a real learning curve. Our objective with Yammer has been to try and connect our business; and to enable a more social way of doing things – people use different social media every day, and there will be a point in time where that behaviour adds significant value in the workplace, so we want to encourage and be ready for that.
What we have found with Yammer is that we saw some great early engagement, but behind the scenes we have had to retrospectively review the security considerations of the cloud based nature of the tool, and its integration with Office 365 to unlock its full capability, which is a key part of the adoption story. In hindsight, it would have been great to have those checks and balances in place early on – but the flip side of that is we have been able to use the tool and build it into how we do things at a much earlier stage.
Another project that has had an agile delivery is our in house TV channel. This was launched in 2016 and we have been growing it since that point. Since the launch we have been continually improving our capability both in the quality of the product, and how we deliver it. We now create the majority of our video content in house, have introduced new video functionality in the Intranet, and new screens across our locations.
By introducing the TV channel as an idea, we have been able to follow a ‘test and learn’ method to grow and improve it – and we remain extremely excited about both the potential and impact it can have as part of a new way of social storytelling.
An agile mindset
Although there are multiple meanings to agile, for me an agile mindset is the best way to bring to life what it means. I believe an agile mindset to be fast paced, flexible in how and when you deliver, outcome focused, test and learn, and being prepared to fail on occasion. It is very much how I see my own working style, which of course is suited to the role that I do in Digital Communications. An agile mindset doesn’t work in every role.
There is a group of people in every organisation that take on a role of an ‘intrapreneur’ – what that means are the people inside an organisation that work with a ‘start up’ mindset. They hurdle the blockers and are the disruptors on the inside. They are the group that ‘can do’ and help drive the business forward – one of the things that can help intrapreneurs is an agile mindset.
‘The crazy ones’
Being a bit of Digital and Apple geek I am heavily influenced by Steve Jobs – my favourite quote of all time is attributed to Jobs although there is some conjecture to whether it actually did come from him. Even so, for me it is absolutely hits the mark.
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
The way that I read that quote is not that everybody in the world will be able to create Apple – but whatever it is you do, you can change the world, one tiny bit at a time. There are times inside an organisation where there may not be an easy path, especially if your working style is agile, but the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do.