Companies use agile methodologies for a variety of reasons, including the desire to incorporate speed into project delivery or to achieve greater transparency and standardisation in their development.
However, becoming agile is not as easy as pressing a button. It must be understood thoroughly and implemented step by step in order for the business to progress toward maturity in this area and begin to reap the associated benefits and challenges.
In one of his studies, Jeff Gothelf (HBR, 2014) asks a group of managers if their organisations are agile; most say yes; however, digging a little deeper reveals that this agility begins and ends with teams of product and/or software development, while areas such as finance or human resources continue to do things the traditional way.
When attempting to develop an innovation project, all of an organization's support is required, and this is where the problems begin, because the areas that continue to work in a traditional manner become a burden.
When we talk about organisational agility, we mean the ability of the entire company to adapt to new environmental demands ahead of competitors. So, how can you tell if your company is agile enough? When you're ahead of the competition and setting the standard for how things should be done.
Now, agility in an organisation is relative, because being agile in a mining company, a software manufacturer, or a public ministry is not the same as being agile in a marketing company. Each industry has a different rate of change. When implementing, it is critical that all areas of the company can accommodate the required rate of change.
It is probably difficult to determine whether or not a company is agile. Many businesses are agile in some ways but not others. Even if a company is agile in one area, it may not be in others.
In short, there is no easy answer to this question. However, having a quick way to assess agility so that you can try to improve in the future would be very useful. In this post, we'll look at two questions you should ask yourself to know your agility.
How frequently do your teams fully integrate their products?
With this first question, we need to know if the teams are interdisciplinary and structured in such a way that they can do all of the integration on a regular basis.
This question is often confused with "How frequently are products released to customers," but the answer is dependent on the customer rather than the organization's culture.
How do you respond when a crisis or problem prevents you from meeting a planned deadline or milestone?
Without a doubt, the best indicator of an organization's agility is how it handles crises and responds to them in a project. If a team is unable to meet a previously agreed-upon milestone for whatever reason, does the organisation respond by saying, "We don't have time to be agile, we have a deadline to meet," or do employees recognise that a crisis is an opportunity to be even more agile?
Inquiring about how the organisation responds to such a crisis reveals whether agility is a true belief or simply something that leadership wants to try.
To summarise, by asking the two questions listed above, you will be able to assess and test your agility. If the answers you discovered are not positive, try to figure out how to solve the problems. You can either hire an external party or begin working on it internally.