Agile and three laws

We can’t just declare that “starting tomorrow at 9am we will all be agile”, and yet still run or structure things the way they are today. 

Our mindset needs to shift to respond, adapt and change and for many of us change is tricky. Moved house recently? Or got the kids off to a new school? We often know that adopting new ways of doing things is needed but… can’t someone else do it?!

Take some lessons from leading thinkers in agile. Steve Denning is one thinker I enjoy hearing from. He writes for Forbes Magazine and presents at Agile conferences. In one presentation he suggested three laws of agile:

1. Small teams
Agile thrives in small cross-functional teams that complete work in small batches and get continuous feedback about that work. Think of a time when you worked in a team that was really humming and performing well; this is the kind of thing agile is about. Keep the team small; it helps with communication, connection and collaboration. 
 
2. The customer
Yes, they’re at the centre of things and satisfying the customer is a big deal. Apple, Dyson, Lexus and Boost Juice are focused on the customer experience, the customer’s delight and making things that rock the customer’s world. Customers are part of the company not an end target market.  

3. The network 
Agile doesn’t work well with top-down, old-school hierarchical stuff; it’s more collaborative. Different parts of the organisation need to more easily and readily communicate with each other.
 
I remember a manager of mine who prevented me from talking to other departments. It was ‘Oooh don’t talk to them’ or ‘Don’t let them know what we’re doing’. That’s the complete opposite of agile! We need to become more networked in our organisations; less bureaucracy, more network. 

Some of Steve Denning’s work has followed businesses who’ve adopted agile to see what they did and what they learned. Some of the advice includes: 

•    Acquiring the mindset can take some time – as can implementing it. 
•    Different companies are at different places on their journey towards agile. 
•    Agile can create a highly passionate workforce. 
•    There will be some setbacks along the way. 
•    It’s not about going digital. 
•    Get started… for you will never ‘arrive’ there; there’s always more agility to be had!

Agile isn’t about giving up control… nor is it about chaos. It’s a balance between control and autonomy. 
 
Want to know more: 
•    Check out local Agile meetups in your city or Agile conferences in Australia and around the world. 
•    Keep in touch – my new book ‘Agile-ish: How to create a culture of agility’ will be coming out in a few weeks.
Lynne Cazaly is an international keynote speaker, author and facilitator.
She is the author of five books including:
•    Agile-ish: How to build a culture of agility
•    Leader as Facilitator: How to engage, inspire and get work done
•    Making Sense: A Handbook for the Future of Work 
She works with executives, senior leaders and project teams on their major change and transformation projects. Lynne is an experienced board director and chair and on the Faculty of Thought Leaders Business School. More info at www.lynnecazaly.com

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