How can we become agile?

What does it mean to be agile?

Being agile means being able to respond to changes in a timely, effective, and sustainable way, I read here and here. And studying this article, I found out that agile companies have high strategic responsiveness and high organizational flexibility. Strategic responsiveness is the ability to sense new risks and new opportunities in the business environment and to respond quickly. An example of this could be the use in publishing and education of various social media. Organizational flexibility is the ability to quickly change execution. An example of this could be the ability for people to learn to find new materials / new content when products / services change.

What values do agile workers have?

Simplicity is an essential agile value, I found out as I read the agile manifesto. Complexity, the enemy of agile, needs to be minimized. In this regard, an important part of agile is to reduce waste.

Efficiency is another important agile value. For example, role clarity, a highly ranked practice among agile organizations, helps everyone understand who is doing what. Thereby, people can move faster.

Openness is one of the strong agile values. Reading this publication, I learned that people agility means the degree to which one is open-minded toward others and enjoys interacting with a diversity of people, understands their unique strengths, interests, and limitations, and uses them effectively to accomplish organizational goals. I can make sense of openness being a key agile value. To be able to adapt to a new situation, it seems evident that information needs to be open and free flowing. The use of social media can help.

Creativity is another key agile value. For example, learning-agile individuals generate new ideas through their ability to view issues from multiple angles. Agile workers push back on the status quo and force the business to rethink the way it presents itself to its customers.

Learning is perhaps one of the most important agile values. Agile individuals are motivated by expanding their knowledge. And when you are faced with changes you work on responding to, that seems natural. In this regard, try to fail fast, learn fast, and improve fast.

Doing research on the topic, I found out that learning about oneself is also an important part of being / becoming agile. Self awareness means the degree to which an individual seeks personal insight, clearly understands his or her strengths and weaknesses, and uses this knowledge to improve performance. To discover values you have, try asking yourself some of these questions.

Studying how agile workers work, I also learned that people who work in agile ways like to help each other. Helping / collaboration / cooperation are at the core of agile. For example, agile workers give feedback to each other. They meet to find out what they learn and what they will change.

As Daniel Pink discovered, autonomy is key to motivation. Instead of a controlling ideology, the agile approach is one of enabling self-organization.

What is the company purpose?

When a strong degree of autonomy is combined with a strong purpose, magic happens. In other words, a strong purpose without strong autonomy is not enough to help people work in agile ways. Neither does it work very well when people have strong autonomy / much freedom but the company purpose is lacking / not well defined. We need a strong purpose AND we need people to have strong freedom / autonomy. To get some inspiration for defining your purpose, have a look at these examples: