Company Culture, Employee Training Key Issues as Use of Agile Expands

Company Culture, Employee Training Key Issues as Use of Agile Expands

By Discovery Lean Six Sigma

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Company Culture, Employee Training Key Issues as Use of Agile Expands

Agile, a process improvement strategy developed in the software industry to speed up product development, has now become a key component in making operations more efficient across many industries.

Businesses who put Agile practices into use are also getting the results they hoped to achieve, according to the 2018 State of Agile report from CollabNet Version One.

A higher percentage of those surveyed in past years indicated they have adapted Agile practices. The reasons for doing so include:

  • Accelerate software delivery
  • Managing changing priorities
  • Increasing productivity
  • Better alignment between business and IT
  • Increased software quality
  • Enhanced product delivery predictability

The report also found that expectations for Agile are matching reality – the above reasons for Agile also found their way onto the list of the benefits most seen after adopting agile.

What is Agile?

Agile started in the software industry to speed up delivery of products while retaining quality. An Agile Manifesto created in 2001, which can still be read online, outlines the main tenets of the methodology.

They are:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

The manifesto also notes that while the items on the right all have value, the items on the left are of higher value.

Much like Lean and Six Sigma, Agile is not something people “do.” Rather, it’s a changed mindset and new approach supported by a variety of tools and techniques. Agile has been used at Microsoft and many other tech giants, including Google (although it’s not always called Agile).

Agile revolves around small, self-organizing and autonomous groups. They work in short “sprints” to quickly achieve tasks. They have frequent, short “scrum” meetings to evaluate progress. They also have short, daily stand-up meetings. The stand-up meetings rank among the most popular tools used by those who use Agile, according to the State of Agile report.

Essentially, much like other process improvement approaches, Agile is designed to overcome cumbersome business processes, cut waste and streamline operations to make an organization more efficient and effective in producing quality products.

Importance of Culture

While integrating Agile is spreading to businesses even outside the software industry, organizational culture remains a roadblock. While Agile emphasizes a bottom-up approach, support and buy-in from all levels of the organization is a critical component.

The State of Agile report listed culture that is at odds with Agile values as one of the main challenges to successfully implementing Agile. Others include resistance to change and inadequate support from management.

Having Agile coaches within the staff and instituting consistent practices and processes across all teams ranked among the key factors for successful implementation of Agile.

The Importance of Agile

In the modern business world, practices from the last century don’t work. For example, many organizations were designed around “siloed” departments. Work was done based on commercial patterns that were predictable.

That no longer works as well in an era of “unpredictability and disruption,” according to the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report.

The report states that hierarchical management structures no longer prove as effective in the 21st century. Work now is accomplished faster, and with better quality, when done by teams. The report found that only 14% of executives surveyed believe that traditional organizational models make a business more effective.

More are moving to the team-centric models used in Agile, the report stated. The focus now is more on flexibility, fast adaptation and collaboration.

Operating at Scale

While Agile has been proven to work for smaller startups and tech companies, will it work for larger organizations?

Writing for the Harvard Business Review, three experienced businessmen explain that it does work, no matter the size of the company. The three write that scaling up Agile to work in larger organizations – even those who thousands of employees – “creates substantial benefits.”

The focus, as with Lean methodologies, should always be on the consumer. That was the area listed as most important by those surveyed for the State of Agile report. Streamlining processes leads not only to savings in time and dollars for the organization, but also results in a better products for consumers.

The Harvard Business Review article also lists large companies that have implemented some form of Agile. They include – in addition to Microsoft and Google – Amazon, Bosch, ING Bank, Netflix, Saab, Salesforce, SAP, Spotify, Tesla, SpaceX and USAA.

Agile has emerged as a useful process improvement tool. Much like Six Sigma, it started in a specific industry (manufacturing, in the case of Six Sigma). But success has been the best teacher, and organizations across all industries have learned the value in training employees in process improvement and delivering consistent, high-quality results to consumers.

The post Company Culture, Employee Training Key Issues as Use of Agile Expands appeared first on Six Sigma Daily.

By: admin
Posted: June 7, 2018, 11:00 am

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