The industry analysis, webinars, management experts, and online research is telling you that your organization needs to be agile. In fact, the language is so persuasive that it almost feels that if you’re not embracing agile management – you’re many steps behind your competitors.

You’ve started questioning how you and your teams are communicating, planning, and working. Now, we know that the agile management approach can and does work – but only when it’s introduced and implemented in the way that works for your unique organization. You don’t rush out and copy your competitor’s products so why would you rush head first into following their management approach?

Don’t get us wrong, we’re big believers in agile, but only when an organization is ready for agile. Just as you’ve taken a strategic approach to how you’ve built your organization and teams, the same approach must be used when assessing your agile readiness.

We’re going to help you learn more about agile, highlight why you might want to go agile, and outline some questions you can use to assess your agile readiness. The one thing we want you to remember through-out is that you need to do what is right for your organization and its goals. Think of the people on your teams, your deliverables, your budgets, your client needs, and the status of your industry – in recognizing these unique variables, you can make a measured and strategic approach to agile management and your organization.

On Being Agile

We all have a long-standing definition of agile – quickness, responsiveness, ready-for-change, etc. When these simple definitions are applied to management systems, agile can be interpreted as being able to respond, react, and be flexible to the needs of the organization and its clients.

Rather than sticking to long-term plans and rigid schedules, the agile management approach gives organizations the ability to adjust and flow with changes in the industry, the organization, and with clients. When done right, this better sets up organizations for both short-term and long-term success. The caveat being – done right – it’s in knowing what is right for your organization and in interpreting agile management that gives you the support and direction you want.

The inherent benefits to the agile management methodology do highlight key factors that every organization, regardless of size, age, niche, or profitability should be embracing.

  • Communication and collaboration. These must serve as your foundation for building an agile organization. Agile management systems are built-around clear and open communication, cross-functional teams, trust, and a true teamwork environment.
  • Transparency. This for many organizations, is a tough one. It is only with transparency that product owners, team members, and management can build the trust that is necessary to have a fully functioning organization. Teams are encouraged to clearly display their progress with on a whiteboard or team wall – this openness helps stimulate productivity and prevents any last-minute surprises or blockers. The teams must know that the days of pretending or assuming everything is on-schedule are gone.
  • Quality over quantity. With effective collaboration and transparency, the real over-arching goal of delivering quality deliverables is made possible. The focus for the teams and product owner should be on determining what can be done and in ensuring that this is delivered with the highest level of quality possible.

As you can see, each of these keys to building a solid agile foundation rests on the other. You cannot have transparency without collaboration and you cannot achieve quality without transparency. There is no room for taking short-cuts here – make sure you have the people, tools, resources, and commitment to make these factors a reality in your organization. This is your first step in understanding if you’re ready for agile management.

Why Be Agile?

The world of business and profitability is not what it was five, 10, 15 years ago. We’re living in a highly-connected and fast-moving time. Think of all the ways your day-to-day life has changed with the incredible advances in technology and communication – it only makes sense that as we’ve adapted how we learn, teach, travel, relax, and play – that the same happens in our workplace.

This is how and why agile makes sense. Well-managed agile organizations are ready for the changes and rather than fearing what might come next – they’re excited and ready to see how new changes can help them.

In finding the approach that gets agile working for your organization, you can be ready and relevant. This is the exciting aspect to this methodology – you’re able to react, respond, evaluate, and act at a smarter, faster, and more profitable rate.

Are You Agile Ready?

It’s time for you to go back to your teams, management, clients, and organization goals and ask some hard questions. These questions should help you understand if you’re agile ready. There are no right or wrong answers – these questions are designed to dig into the ability for change.

  1. Is management committed to being agile?
  2. Will the organization receive agile training and coaching?
  3. Are your colleagues willing to learn and change the way they work?
  4. Will you have the resources for dedicated product owners and a Scrum Master?
  5. Will you have budget to buy the best agile management tools and software?
  6. What is your strategy if people leave or refuse to make the agile transition?
  7. How are your teams currently organized and how will this change?
  8. Who is going to work with clients to explain the new approach to product/service delivery?
  9. Do you have the right people and support to truly be collaborative, transparent, and focused on quality?

Naturally, these questions should spark further conversations and questions about your organization’s agile readiness. Remember, there are no right and wrong answers – just as there is no right or wrong approach to agile management. Learn all you can about agile processes, principles, methodologies, successes, and failures – and then make smart informed decisions for your unique organization.