Agile Business

Agile Business

 

To ensure companies have the talent that will grow the business, Stephen Redwood explains how a multi-track career model is the better choice for today’s agile and lean requirements.

In a world where attracting top talent is increasingly competitive there is certainly a case for focusing attention on that special and small number of company roles that are deemed critical to success. Those roles may well shape the agenda, define points of focus, and be responsible for creating much of the potential business value, but it is important not to lose sight of the fact that it is the collective performance of the whole employee population that ultimately delivers the actual results. In thinking of a suitable metaphor, I was reminded of the poem Where Many Rivers Meet by David Whyte. The title conjured just the right image for the way career models should combine the flow of capabilities across organizations to support strategic goals and individual ambitions alike with a force like ‘the mouths of the rivers sing[ing] into the sea.’

The narrowly defined career paths of the past, that reward climbing a hierarchy of increasingly administrative general management roles, no longer fit with the leaner, agility-focused, diverse and dispersed operations of today’s companies. Nor do they fit with the expectations of an increasingly mobile, diverse, remote and ‘gig-minded’ talent pool of today’s society. More flexible career paths are the order of the day, yet in many cases the need lags behind the reality.

 Clients often ask me what they should factor into their thinking as they evolve new designs that allow for multiple career paths, providing opportunities for a wide range of skill sets and capabilities.

 

Key points include:

  • Addressing the practical realities of the global labor market
  • Balancing individual and organizational needs
  • Offering different career tracks

 

Read the full article, Where Many Rivers Meet – Building Multi-Track Career Models That Work, on LinkedIn.

 

 

In this article, Emre Kara explains the benefits of going agile and how to do it without undergoing massive transformation. 

This article is for those of you who have heard of agile but are not sure what to do with it and how to use it in your context. If you are one of them, then go ahead and enjoy reading!

When you google agile as a keyword, you will see that in the majority of search results agile is used within the software development context. It is not surprising as agile has become popular in IT domain. We could not have heard of agile more and more these days if agile has failed as a way or working in software development. Therefore, congrats to all the agile contributors who have helped this term become this much popular today.

Now, let’s further specify the audience of this article. Let us assume that you do not work in an IT domain but you are from any type of business function such as marketing, finance, human resources, strategy, product management, business development, etc. When you have done the google search, you have probably read some of the articles about agile in software development. You understood what agile is overall and then you have started to look for agile applications in business rather than IT because it makes more sense for yourself. Then, you must have found agile case studies regarding the companies such as Spotify, ING Bank, Bosch, etc. I hope you have read their stories, they are amazing – if not, please take your time to read. These companies (there are many others by the way) have taken serious and bold course of actions to become agile and they succeeded. They did not use agile in only IT but also in other business functions.

 

Key areas covered include:

  • The one fundamental principle of agile
  • Making your employees agile-native
  • Standing up a scrum team to do a project

 

Read the full post, How to Go Agile without Massive Transformation, on Proludus.com. 

 

 

Eric Hiller shares how his experience as a new father reminds him of how one has to adjust and adapt using knowledge learned from lean manufacturing and agile product development.

Coronavirus has changed a lot of things in America—especially in urban areas, where there are heightened precautions. It is even more chaotic when you have your first newborn baby, like my wife and me.

Babies are very different from manufacturing floors; however, there are certain processes that must be repeated over and over. Caring for newborns is a good example of how one has to adjust in a rapidly changing customer demand environment—the “customer” being the baby, of course.

Here are some ways that we can apply what we know from lean manufacturing and agile product development to being new parents.

  1. Understand the customer’s needs and design your product and process accordingly

Excited relatives and friends are showering you with gifts, but you may be confused about what you actually need. The truth is: Less than you think, but how do you know what? Answer: with good product management. Consider the use cases that your newborn has: he eats, he sleeps, he produces copious dirty diapers, and he needs love and comfort. That’s about it.

A useful technique to understand what you really need is by observing a customer proxy in situ. Before your baby is born, ask to visit a friend’s baby for a few hours (virtually during the quarantine). They will love the company and your help. After research, write a use case for the customer, or make a value-stream map. Document the capital, consumables, and info you need to help the customer accomplish their goals.

 

Points of connection include:

  • Product modularity
  • Agile meal planning
  • Digital Dashboarding

 

Read the full article, Bringing up Baby, the Lean and Agile Way, on IndustryWeek.com.

 

 

Surbhee Grover provides insight and inspiration in this article on the fortitude of spirit and mental strength.

The setting of the movie is the tiny town of Nome, Alaska, which is paralyzed by a deadly, fast-spreading disease. Despite a quarantine that was executed early on, the epidemic is expected to wipe out a majority of its inhabitants within days… unless they get speedy access to the appropriate medication (antitoxins) that needed to be transported more than 600 miles, amidst a winter blizzard, which made flights a non-option. Enter Togo, a Siberian husky who led a team of sled dogs and covered hundreds of miles at record-breaking speed in a deadly storm to (obviously) deliver the serum, and save the day.

The premise of this (real life) story from 1925 itself gives one an instant connection to the times we live in, even if it is almost a century removed from the present day. However, watching this Disney movie a few days ago, as I munched microwave-prepared popcorn, it wasn’t the epidemic that inspired me to pick this story as a reference—it was Togo, and what he could teach us, about triumphing in such turbulent times (WARNING: spoilers ahead).

 

Areas of interest in this article:

  • The importance of home
  • Operating processes
  • Steering your business

 

Read the full article, The Heart of a Survivor, on the Thrive Global website.

 

 

Andrew Hone’s company provides a comprehensive report designed to position your business for success in the post Covid-19 environment.

Achieving rapid and sustainable cost reduction is a critical business objective, especially in the current environment. The near-term economic outlook is bleak, with the IMF projecting the world’s worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

At a time when most businesses are likely to see deteriorating market conditions and declining revenue, rebalancing the cost base to reflect the new operating environment could be the difference between riding out the current crisis or becoming another business casualty.

The Agile Cost Advantage is the culmination of 20 years’ of working with business leaders on cost reduction.

 

Areas covered in this report include:

  • A systematic four-stage approach to designing and executing a cost reduction program
  • Common causes of failure (and how to avoid them) 
  • Techniques for identifying cost reduction opportunities
  • How to set your program up for success

 

Download the full report, The Agile Cost Advantage, on the Zenith Strategy website.

 

 

Andrew Hone’s company blog explains why cost reduction programs often fail. 

Although cost reduction programs can deliver a powerful mix of financial, strategic, and organisational benefits, the failure rates of these types of programs are very high. A recent survey of C-Suite executives, for example, found that while 90% of businesses had attempted to implement a cost reduction program, 75% failed to meet their targets, and 44% missed them by more than half.

Drawing on some of the key insights from our new report, the Agile Cost Advantage, in this article we consider some of the main reasons why cost reduction programs are so difficult to get right.

The reasons for cost reduction program failure can be complex, and of course depend of the specific circumstances of each cost reduction program. In general though, we see a number of recurring themes behind these causes of failure.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Unrealistic targets
  • Cost cuts
  • Execution challenges
  • Loss of momentum

 

Read the full article,  Why do cost reduction programs fail so often? on the Zenith Strategy Associates website. 

 

 

Amanda Setili shares a post that identifies a few ways we can take positive action during the current crisis.

Billions of us worldwide are altering our behaviors during the covid 19 crisis, so that as many people as possible remain safe.

When faced with a tough situation—even something big, like the coronavirus situation—I always ask: how can we mitigate the downside, and create some good?

We are living in strange times, and things are changing every day. Schools are closed and colleges have sent students home; flights, conferences and events have been cancelled; millions of employees are suddenly working remotely. Events this spring are likely to change the way we think, plan and do business for years to come.

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • Customers
  • Employees, process and finance
  • Suppliers
  • Community
  • Innovation and agility

 

Read the full article, Finding the Positive, Even in Challenging Times, on the Setili website.

 

In this TEDX talk at Columbia University, Kaihan Krippendorff discusses employee innovation within the model of disruption, and how it helps activate lean, agile innovation and growth in your organization. 

 

“Employees are the number one source of innovative growth options and the only remaining source of true competitive advantage. Arming them with the skills and tools necessary to innovate on a continual basis is of paramount importance to organizational survival.”

 

Points covered in the talk include:

-The path of the entrepreneur

-Disruptive innovation

-The innovation myth

 

Watch the Ted Talk, Change the World without Quitting Your Job, on Youtube.

Three key points in ninety seconds from Amanda Setili on how to avoid strategy execution melt down.Strategy execution is where everything goes haywire.

 

We can always come up with a good strategy, a good plan for what we want to do, but when the rubber meets the road and you’re actually implementing, that’s where you find out all the things that you maybe didn’t plan for. Frankly, it’s impossible to anticipate everything. One of the keys to effective strategy execution is having clear goals in mind, but also having people empowered to make decisions along the way because you got to enable yourself to adjust course. It used to be that you could plan strategy cycles, every five years, or at least every year. Now you need to be continuously adjusting your strategy. At least every quarter you should be having strategic discussions about what have we done so far, what have we learned, what do we want to change? That process of constantly adjusting course is essential and it’s also essential to make sure that everyone understands where you’re headed so that they can all contribute because frankly, with the speed of change today, you can’t possibly tell everyone what to do. You need to have them clear about what the goal is so that they can anticipate on their own for their own part of the business, how they need to adjust.

 

Watch the video, How to Prevent Strategy Execution Meltdowns, on Youtube.

Kaihan Krippendorff provides three signposts that can direct your organization towards a successful pivot.

 

If people try to tell you that pivoting is the new thing, that it’s the fresh Silicon Valley approach to business designed for today’s fast-paced digital world, don’t believe them. Consider Fairfield University, a private school founded just outside of New York in Fairfield, Connecticut, by the Catholic Church – a 2,000-year-old organization.

In 1941, the society that runs the Jesuit school system had acquired two properties and were finishing renovations on them. One would become a university for college students and the other a preparatory school for younger boys, both on the site of what would become Fairfield University. The plan was to open the university first while renovations on the prep school were still underway.

But then, on Dec. 7, just before the university was scheduled to open, Pearl Harbor was bombed, pulling the United States and nearly all of its college-age men into war. Concerned that they would have a school with no students to fill it, the priests engineered a classic, Silicon Valley-style pivot. They moved the prep school (for younger boys) into the finished building and opened it first.

 

The signposts are:

-Have a purpose

-Create optionality

-Encourage proactivity

 

Read the full article, If a 2,000-year-old Organization Can Pivot… So Can You, on Kaihan’s website.