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5 Steps to Becoming an Agile Organisation

Moving towards Agile has become something of a trend in business today. It’s an attractive model; lean, but incredibly effective. No wonder more businesses want to adopt Agile.

But for software companies, IT companies and development teams, it’s kind of been the only way to work. And many have learned, sometimes the hard way, that it’s not so much a transformation as it is a transition.

It takes time. It takes dedication. It takes foresight, insight, introspection and retrospection.

Transitioning into Agile will change core business processes, capabilities and the very guiding principles of a company. And that can’t happen overnight, or in one move; it’ll take an iterative and incremental approach – and you’ll often be learning the ropes as you go.

Read more – How to create an Agile team

But even though it takes time and resources, it will pay off. The first step to becoming an Agile organisation is to decide it’s the right move, and to set the wheels in motion – and the best way to do that is by establishing your mission objectives.

Step one: the mission

Before you do anything, you need a purpose.

Think of everyday tasks: you eat to nourish yourself, sleep to re-energise, and exercise to feel your best. You climb a staircase to get to the next floor. You call a cab to go somewhere.

So why do you need to “do Agile”?

The danger with starting a project so vast and so broad is losing sight – getting caught in the minutiae and chasing your tail – without ever achieving anything but the creation of more work.

So, with that, step one is to define your goal, the purpose of adopting Agile.

Read more: How to set SMART goals

And, when you find your purpose, don’t forget to share it with the most important asset you have – your people.

You need to make absolutely clear why you’re doing this, and effectively communicate it with the entire organisation. You need to guide them through, and listen to their feedback. If everyone’s on board, with a mission they can all get behind, success will come far more easily.

Common goals lead to a sense of community, purpose and buy-in – which in turn leads to common values and principles. These are the core areas of your company that you must, over time, change, in order to be able to say “mission accomplished”.

Step two: assess what you have

Now you know what you want to achieve, it’s time to take stock. How close or far are you from realising your mission? What will you have to change to achieve it?

You will, of course, still have to do business during the transition to Agile. It can be tough to make that seamless, and some companies start with fringe departments or R&D teams; areas of the business with longer-term goals, or delayed yet significant value.

Segment these out. Identify your core value streams; the processes and people that achieve your regular business goals. Plan for their continued operation, while setting in motion a plan for Agility.

Then, decide which teams and processes to transition over first. The company structure won’t necessarily have to change – but resource allocation might.

Step three: out with the old (mindset)

We live in the 21st century – the age of the semiconductor, the pocket-sized supercomputer and the Internet of Things. We can control any aspect of our lives remotely and digitally with a tap and a swipe.

So, why do we do business, company structure and management in the same way we did more than a hundred years ago?

Managing employees and their time, setting rigid tasks – and yet pushing for innovation and competition.

Modern business leaders know that every member of a team is different. Each has a specific expertise, making them leaders in their own roles. Seniority and leadership qualities should no longer be defined by how big someone’s team is, but by how effective they are in their specified role; their experience and knowledge, and thought leadership.

Read more – The future of work

It’s time to get into the Agile mindset; allow your team members autonomy, self-regulation and authority in their specialism. Create a fair and effective system of governance and accountability.

Let everyone become a leader in their own field. Trust their knowledge and experience, and make them accountable for their successes. And of course, their failures. Because there will be failures; but that’s actually a good thing.

Step four: incremental, iterative progress

As humans, we have to fail in order to progress.

But failure is almost always demonised, when in fact, it’s the best teacher we have. Imagine parents watching their baby take their first steps. The child fails, and so the parents decide never to let them try walking again.

It’s an absurd notion, but that’s basically how most adults treat failure. We fail once, and we never really try again.

To use the baby steps analogy again, approach the agile transition with – well, baby steps. Plan the transition to Agile in short bursts, and allow time for the change to take effect so you can evaluate properly.

But be careful of overthinking and overplanning; insisting on perfection can stop organisational change in its tracks. Instead, take an iterative, incremental approach. Change little and often. Assess failures, and think of ways to improve the next round of changes.

An Agile Coach can help with this – someone with experience in transitioning to the Agile methodology. It can be difficult to see progress when all reports show failures, and it can be easy to lose heart. An Agile Coach can not only build that confidence back up, but help roadmap the entire journey.

Even from those first, tiny baby steps.

Step five: always be learning

Old habits die hard.

When you’re on the path to Agility, it can become easy to slip back. This means constant vigilance is needed to promote and sustain the transition.

And it’s never finished.

You’ll always be learning. And that’s an excellent cultural trait to have in a business.

For Agile to work, learning must become more valuable than products; outcomes more valuable than output. Those become byproducts of innovation on the bleeding edge.

That can be a hard concept to imagine; essentially allowing for playful inventiveness and discovery instead of focusing on shipping your product alone.

It’s a mindset and culture you’ll have to adopt, as a company, over time. And the payoffs, while far in the future, will be revolutionary.

Staying on the path of organisational development, process improvement, and Agile transformation requires guidance. And at ClearHub, we’re connected to the people who’ve made it happen at countless organisations around the world.

Let’s bring them in.

Adopt Agile in your business – with Agile experts in your team

ClearHub specialises in finding the best Agile Coaches and freelance Agile Project Managers in the world; vetted, skills-checked and ready to move your company into the future.

Want to know more? Get in touch with the ClearHub team today – call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to

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