Agile mindset: training is part of the map on your agile journey

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Written by Peter Measey on 20 May 2015 in Features
Features

The key to agile success is to match the training to a cultural transformation, Peter Measey says 

Of the current FTSE 100 companies listed in 1984, just 31 still remain on the benchmark listing. More than 2/3rds of the original list have been taken over, slipped into the FTSE 250 or gone bust.

The relentless culling of companies on the FTSE 100 index is far more ruthless than either Frankfurt or Paris. The fascinating rise and fall of famous brands shows the vital importance of having flexible management to creatively grow the business in the competitive world - failure to adapt quickly is a recipe for decline.

Agile management techniques, first widely used in the information technology sector, have now become a widely recognised throughout business as offering great opportunities for rapid innovations, speeding new offerings to market to outperform competitors. The most effective businesses appreciate the importance of ‘being agile’ as opposed to ‘doing agile’.

The agile mindset - embedding a culture and the economic case for agile

Agile is about ‘being agile’ as opposed to ‘applying agile’, this is what the core focus of agile training should be. In order to implement agile successfully in a company or organisation, you need to dive into the whole agile mindset.

Many businesses adopt agile practices in isolation, such as working in smaller batches for their projects. They try and get feedback sooner rather than later so they can make amendments more cost and time effective. In companies that have only adopted elements of agile, they struggle to grasp potential solutions and miss out on the lean flexible approaches to market conditions demanded in modern business.

The agile mindset leads to a number of tools, processes and practices that facilitate a cultural change in the business. An example could be the visual board:

  • Tools - agile planning tool providing a visual board
  • Practice - visual boards are common practice in most agile frameworks
  • Principle - using visual boards aligns to the process principles of transparency
  • Value - the principles of transparency supports the agile value of responding to change
  • Mindset - all of these things are wrapped up in the agile mindset.

The economic case for agile

Agile is focused on delivering value to the business within the shortest effective time, and, therefore, enable positive returns on investment as soon as possible. This creates a compelling economic case for an agile business.

Agile businesses can change direction more rapidly and understand the implications of doing so on an as-and-when-needed basis. This ability is essential in today’s rapidly evolving markets with ever narrower windows of opportunity and, particularly, where information technology is a key differentiator.

Agile training and the IT sector

Agile training in the IT sector is set to grow in 2015 with the IT sector set for continued spending growth of 2.5 per cent in 2015 to almost £59 billion [source: BMI Research, UK Information Technology Report, 13th April 2015].

Agile is practiced by 94 per cent of organisations surveyed with 45 per cent of those surveyed saying that the majority of their teams were agile. [Source: www.versionone.com].  Agile will be the largest software development related activity to deploy in 2015 with 38 per cent of respondents pointing towards this as a training priority according to the TechTarget 2015 Priorities Survey.

Agile is a large training growth area within information technology sector with more and more people looking to make a change in their organisations, while avoiding the danger of wasting time and money on ‘trying to act agile’. Apart from the IT world, there is also very large potential for agile training in markets that are now maturing. Other areas such as marketing are implementing agile as they appreciate how agile can help them in similar ways to information technology.

Making agile training a key element of your training portfolio is vital if you are to take advantage of the clear market demand for agile and the improved business resulting from adopting agile practices.

Locating staff to train in the current climate is also a serious challenge to current businesses trying to effectively transform themselves. Not all companies are able to recruit the talented staff - there are very few recruitment companies with the skills and knowledge to locate and provide the human resources you need.

Moreover, the key to agile success is to match the training to a cultural transformation centred upon deploying an agile mindset. While it is easy to start using agile techniques, principles and tools, integrating them as part of a company-wide agile culture is a lot more challenging than some people realise. This is where you can take advantage of consulting.

Whenever you bring a consultant in, their role should be to support you with your transition to agile, and with aligning that agile training to a broader agile culture. It is their duty to also outline the maximum benefits you can get from adopting agile, while showing how this all spreads across the whole business.

Locating staff to train in the current climate is also a serious challenge to current businesses trying to effectively transform themselves. Not all companies are able to recruit the talented staff - there are very few recruitment companies with the skills and knowledge to locate and provide the human resources you need.

‘Time and tide waits for no man’ - as the FTSE 100 history clearly shows. Make sure that you are able to adapt agile mindset into your business to avoid becoming another casualty of market forces.

 

About the author

Peter Measey is CEO of Radtac Ltd (www.radtac.co.uk), an agile specialist offering consultancy, culture, training and talent services

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