Different vocabulary becomes popular during different leadership and organizational trends and periods. The language of agile is one that has been taking center stage across industries for some years now. From startups to big name players, the concept of agile methodology has come up in countless meetings and trainings, and has surely been at least floated around in your own workplace.
Just as there is no one-size-fits-all solution across industries and workplaces, though, there is no reason agile should be considered a silver bullet for all problems. In fact, if there is no problem to solve, trying to force agile methodology might be a problem in and of itself. Let’s talk about the difference between having an agile strategy, and having a strategy for “agile.”
What Agility Means
Both in business and in regular language, agility is about being able to adapt and pivot appropriately in response to an obstacle or challenge. It means being able to get from point A to point B, regardless of whatever might be lying in between. If your initial plan doesn’t work out, agility is being able to quickly and creatively find a path towards success.
In a business setting, this agility is incredibly important. In such dynamic and uncertain contexts, we are bound to run into obstacles and challenges that no amount of planning could have foreseen. But, getting caught up in this friction can cost us serious business and money. Being able to adapt isn’t just a useful skill, it’s necessary for survival.
As far as the agile framework is concerned, it makes a point to move away from traditional, more linear and static processes. By forcing employees to stick to strict steps and processes with little flexibility, it can be very difficult to adjust when necessary, even if it’s a good strategic move. That being said, not everything needs to be agile.
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
Arguably, it’s good for everybody to have agile practices and abilities under their belt. The creative thinking and problem solving that comes with it can help business on many different levels. That said, agile isn’t just a mindset or a perspective, it’s a framework that takes careful planning and training.
If agility is a way to navigate a problem, there needs to be a problem that needs navigating. There might always be room for improvement, sure, but implementing agile for the sake of implementation might not be doing you any favors. If there are processes that are already running efficiently and satisfactorily, there’s no need to spend time and money on switching it up to a trendy and popular framework.
Switching frameworks in this manner can cost you both time and resources. If your research and analytics show that you need to change something up, and a lack of mobility seems to be an issue, then agile might be a great move. Otherwise, if things are running smoothly, why reinvent the wheel? Agile should be a tool or a solution, not an aspiration. Your strategy can be agile, but you shouldn’t be scrambling for a strategy for agile.
What Agile Looks Like
Exactly what agile looks like will depend on each context and workplace, but it’s important to note that it will usually require some sort of reorganization. Not only do certain protocols need to be relaxed in order to center collaboration and horizontal problem solving, but team members need specific training in agile practices.
Leadership is also incredibly important. While agile calls for a more horizontal and equal-parts workflow – having somebody who knows how to navigate these waters and can lead a team through uncertainty is incredibly important. While the team moves towards fully understanding agile themselves, having an agile leader on board helps the team know what moves work, what moves might not, and what can be done at all.
Agility isn’t just a trend or a buzzword, it’s a specific framework and tool meant to solve workflow problems that arise in traditional, linear frameworks. If there’s any ambiguity as to whether or not you need to implement this framework in your own business, make sure to ask the experts in your own processes: your employees.
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