Although agile methodology has its roots firmly in technology – specifically software development – it is becoming a key part of an operating model for businesses that are keen to grow and move at pace. Agile is actually a mindset not a methodology; yes there are project principles that define what it means to be agile, but the true principle of agile is about thinking differently.
Agile is a mindset that can be applied across any idea or new initiative. It is about challenging the status quo. These six ways of working will enable any team or individual to work at pace and drive a culture of continuous improvement.
Don’t be afraid to fail
The key principle of agile is not being afraid to test and learn. In an agile world, sometimes things just won’t work, but the mindset you need shouldn’t worry about failure. Too often in organisations we look for perfection or big bang before launching new ideas or initiatives. But that waterfall way of thinking prevents so many initiatives being delivered at speed. And the outcome is that it can slow down progress.
A great way to test and learn is to bring ideas to market quickly by introducing an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). This enables you to test and learn, listen to your employees and iterate as you go. An MVP is an early iteration of an idea, and is not a finished product, and if positioned correctly will allow employees to help shape the design of any idea or solution.
Think Product, not Platform
One key principle of agile that will become a key role of Internal Communications and HR functions into the future is the idea of product v’s platform. Most employee digital projects are designed around platforms and unlike consumer experiences are not designed around digital products.
A product has a lifecycle that goes beyond the big bang launch. In an agile world, a product will continually iterate built upon a backlog of improvements defined by customers. The same concept should apply with an organisations digital workplace.
It isn’t a tool that should stand still. It should be managed as a product, listening to the business and employees and managing a backlog of requirements. A product will likely have a release cycle of iterative improvements that means you are continuously listening and improving.
Far too often a platform is introduced into an organisation and is left before it becomes outdated and unfit for purpose.
By using the agile concept of a ‘Product Owner’ you will be able keep your digital employee experience relevant and up to date through a lens of continually looking forward.
Agile is all about iteration. Listening and acting on feedback from your customers. When designing experiences for employees, factor in show and tells and opportunities for feedback. They will be a key factor in delivering solutions based around the needs of employees.
Make sure that your idea or initiative has release cycles factored in, so that you have opportunity to build in ideas from your backlog.
A scrum isn’t just in rugby
Scrum teams are something that digital teams and developers use every day. But you can apply the agile idea of scrum to any business challenge. It is effectively bringing together the SME’s or experts in your business needed to deliver an idea or initiative. For example:
- The scrum master will be the PM and have a role to remove road-blocks or barriers giving the team a clear pathway to progress.
- The Product Owner will be the business sponsor (not always a senior stakeholder) and will be responsible for decisions and direction
Most scrum teams operate a daily stand up meeting which lasts 10-15 minutes. The purpose of these meetings are to discuss the day ahead and work with the Scrum Master to uncover and remedy any challenges expected. And to get any decisions needed from the Product Owner.
Hack any problem
One of the great outcomes of an agile mindset is innovation. To enable innovation, Hackathons are a really great way to generate new ideas. Although Hackathons have always leant themselves well to Digital teams who use them for rapid product development, they are a great way of solving business challenges across a range of functions.
A Hackathon enables you to bring the best in your business together and focus only on new ideas, shifting the focus away from day to day. One of the foundations of a great Hackathon is to run with ideas and remove all barriers. Don’t let existing challenges constrain the outputs.
A Hackathon can be applied to challenges in HR and Employee Experience as easily as it could for a Digital or Technology team. Identify your business challenges, get your best people together for 2 days and you can create great outcomes.
Agile isn’t a 9-5 gig
An agile mindset isn’t something that can be constrained by normal working practices. You just can’t be creative and at your best 9-5 from behind a desk. Traditional ways of working are changing rapidly and the term ‘agile working’ is becoming more common in organisations.
But although ‘agile working’ might mean working from home at times – it’s true meaning should be about working when and where you are at your best and most productive. With the Digital Workplace disrupting many organisations, and the toolkit employees now have to connect and collaborate wherever they are in the world, it is easier than ever to work in an agile way.
Two outcomes of agile are about working at speed and thinking differently. These are principles that can be applied across any business function. An agile mindset enables you to keep an eye on the future as well as the here and now. Designing experiences for employees that are future proof and delivering new initiatives at pace.