Drucker famously said that culture eats strategy for breakfast, by which he meant that you can have the best strategy in the world but unless people behave in a way to execute on that strategy it is meaningless.
I have shamelessly borrowed this sentiment to contrast two critical elements needed to create an agile culture, a culture where the organisation is able to anticipate, pivot and respond quickly to changing market conditions.
In our research on Agile Culture we have differentiated between implementing agile processes – do-ing agile and having an agile mindset – be-ing agile. Our argument is that to have an agile culture you need to move beyond simply doing agile – implementing and following a set of specific methodologies, daily routines and practices.
Instead our view is that BE-ing agile is key, unlocking the key mindsets and behaviours that will allow agility to thrive in your organisation. In our view there are 4 critical patterns of behaviour that have to work together to create a truly agile culture. These are:
Customer centricity – where the customer sits at the heart of what people think and do
- Empowerment – where people believe that they are responsible for delivering to others and leaders trust their employees will deliver on promises
- Experimentation – where testing, experimentation and learning are at the heart of the work people do
- Collaboration – where diverse individuals connect together to solve complex problems and share knowledge and resources end to end.
Let me give you a simple example of this in practice. One team we worked with had put in a process to systematically gather and share data around the customer. However as they did further work on ‘being’ agile they realised that whilst they had data, they had limited engagement with the customer, they didn’t have the customer voice driving their decisions and they weren’t altering product design based on customer feedback. To ‘be agile’ they needed to completely rethink their relationship with the customer in the design process.
I will leave the last word to one of our clients.
In a review of our Walking with Agility program, I was struck by their response to the question ‘what is your advice to anyone wanting to create an agile culture?’
“The mindset is the hardest. You are changing people, how they think, how they behave. It is very difficult to do. In contrast, attending a stand-up meeting is easy! It is essential to do something around mindsets to embed agile. When we see people doing and being agile it makes a massive difference. My recommendation to anyone is go through Walking with Agility first - win hearts and minds before tackling the mechanics of agile. You will get more motivation, engagement and impact.”
Reach out to us at Walking the Talk to find out how you can help your organisation BE Agile.