Unlocking the Advantages of an Agile Culture for Your Organisation
Agile working culture
Fostering and cultivating an agile culture can significantly influence and ensure your company’s long-term success. In today’s rapidly changing world, it’s essential for any growing organisation to be nimble and adaptable. Unfortunately, the term “Agile” has become overused and lost its true meaning. Although the agile methodology was originally designed for project management in software development, it can be effectively utilised to manage other areas of the business, such as HR management. In fact, implementing agile methodology is recommended to facilitate speedy project completion and improve employee engagement. In the past, traditional Waterfall methodology was commonly used for software projects.
The Waterfall methodology is a project management approach that follows a linear or sequential process where each stage of the project must be completed before moving to the next step. This method restricts the ability to revisit or modify any previous stages once they have been completed. Instead, any required changes necessitate starting the project anew, making it a suboptimal approach for today’s dynamic market environment where requirements can change quickly. Additionally, the Waterfall method requires extensive planning at the outset of the project due to its rigid sequential process.
The sole benefit of adhering to this methodology is that it enables the establishment of clear expectations with the client from the outset. Additionally, since it prioritises planning and documentation, the departure of a team member in the middle of the project has minimal impact.
Despite its advantages, the Waterfall methodology has a major drawback – it does not account for the fact that not everything can be predetermined. It is difficult for either you or your client to predict or foresee risks or requirements at the beginning of the project. In today’s fast-paced environment, requirements often change constantly during the project lifecycle, making it challenging to stick to the rigid structure of Waterfall.
To tackle the challenges posed by the traditional Waterfall methodology, Agile methodology emerged as a solution. Unlike Waterfall, Agile methodology supports an iterative, incremental, and experimental process throughout the entire project lifecycle. For instance, in a software development project, work is done in fortnightly or monthly sprints, followed by an evaluation at the end of every sprint to prioritise tasks. This approach allows for identifying and fixing bugs, and incorporating customer feedback before the next sprint begins. By facilitating a faster pace of work and flexibility to adapt to market changes, Agile methodology enables companies to operate more agilely.
The Agile Principles
The agile manifesto evolved as a guide that outlined the principles of a typical software development lifecycle. Listed below are some of the core principles of agile.
- The basic premise of agile is to satisfy the customers by facilitating early and continuous delivery of software.
- Since agile is open to receiving a change in requirements even at a late stage in development, it thereby enables the client to meet the competitive advantage in the market which is an edge in itself.
- An agile company facilitates delivering working software at regular intervals ranging from a couple of weeks to a couple of months in a shorter time frame.
- It requires both the business folks and developers to work in tandem on a day to day basis throughout the lifecycle of a project.
- It focuses on building projects around a motivated team by giving them a favorable environment, timely support, and trusts them to deliver the job on time.
- Agile facilitates an efficient and effective means of open communication within the team via face-to-face communication which leaves no gap while conveying any vital information.
- Delivering software in working condition is one of the primary means for judging the progress of a project.
- The agile methodology facilitates sustainable development where the developer, sponsors, and the users are able to maintain a consistent pace.
- Agile pays a lot of attention to technical excellence and quality design consistently which enhances the agility.
- It also facilitates maximizing the amount of work that has not been done owing to its simplicity.
- Owing to well organised teams, an agile company ensures delivering the best of architectures with great design.
- It enables the team to function more effectively by having continuous internal discussions on how to improve and improvise, and fine tuning and adjusting themselves accordingly based on the changing requirements.
Agile is a Mindset
According to a recent survey, agile initiatives often fail due to culture-related issues and resistance to change. Although agile methodology offers various tools, such as daily stand-up meetings and retrospectives at the end of every sprint, it is important to note that these are only facilitators to adopting an agile approach. The true transformation comes from within your organisation’s culture. The agile concept emphasizes the ability to adapt quickly to change and not fear failure. Therefore, as a leader, it is crucial to create an environment where failure is accepted and seen as a learning opportunity. Agile also emphasises the importance of regular communication among employees as internal feedback is essential to improve the team’s performance.
Why an Agile Culture is Important?
Adopting an agile culture provides you with the following advantages:
- Following an agile culture gives you the edge of being a first-mover edge over your competitors. While they are occupied in planning, you are already out there in the market selling your product.
- The progress principle of an agile company motivates the team as agile culture facilitates speed and quick iterations which motivate the employees.
- Involving your customers at every stage of development while delivering new features, gives your customers the confidence in your company.
You can build an agile company by:
- Giving your team autonomy and control over how they function and deliver.
- Facilitating and encouraging transparent communication which is one of the key facets of an agile culture.
- Aligning the team in such a fashion that everyone is aware that they are working towards one goal as one team
- Removing fears and insecurities within the team, so that each one is aware of their strengths and weaknesses and adapts and works accordingly sans any fear.
Just like software development, measuring employee engagement also requires regular and iterative assessment. As a leader, it is important to demonstrate agility by taking prompt action based on the results obtained from employee surveys.