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Agile, a world of new possibilities

Agile has been, for years now, a way of thinking and delivering product for most software development organisations. With a clear focus on customer value, via multiple product iterations and early customer feedback, underpinned by team collaboration, agile working meant challenging the traditional approaches and brought benefits both for customers and businesses.

But can agile be a way of thinking for organisations in other industries? Are there learnings from software development which can be applied in other fields like Sales, Marketing or Human Resources? If not agile, what does the organisation of the future look like?

Traditional organisational structures have, as core fundamentals, clear reporting lines, grouping of people and departments and designs of systems to enable communication, coordination and integration between departments. In order to achieve great results, equally important to the design of the structure, debatably even more important, are the people in key roles and their capabilities.

However, in a world of digitalisation and rapid transformations, we have seen such organisations confronted with major challenges. The ability to move faster, adapt quickly and learn rapidly is no longer an advantage, but the basis for remaining competitive.  Interestingly, these are the exact same challenges that have been addressed by agile in the product delivery world.

So how can agile be embedded into an organisation’s mindset and culture?

Companies like Spotify and ING are leading the field in the new world, and managed to successfully create fully agile organisations, by prioritising:

  • clear customer outcomes, underpinned by clear accountability over departmental boundaries and silo-ed objectives
  • autonomy and empowerment of teams and individuals in an ever-learning environment over single decision making made based on hierarchy
  • collaboration between individuals contributing to a common measurable goal over standardisation of processes and definition of how to achieve the results

Deloitte, in an article published last year, calls this evolving organisational structure as a network of teams and emphasises the power of such high performing organisations over the traditional ones.  With examples across multiple domains, the new approach has brought not only significant benefits for businesses, but higher employee engagement as well.

This transformation is enabled by leadership and the right culture. In some cases, the new approach is being sponsored by the CEOs, and the culture is driven by innovation, experimentation, learning, and customer-centric thinking. A key starting point is an appealing company vision and strategy, followed by the more granular customer centric goals, which sit at the centre of achieving the strategy.  Self-sufficient teams were formed around goals, having all capabilities required to make an impact: technology, product management, sales, marketing, operations. The teams are kept accountable for achieving the goal and given the autonomy of decide how best to reach the goals. Decision making is objectively enabled through hypothesis validation with real customers rather than role- or position -based decisions.  Progress is made transparent through ongoing measurement of the business KPIs.

Leadership has been redefined with leaders focusing on building teams and supporting them in achieving the goals. They have an excellent understanding of the customers and the strategy and a high degree of influence and collaboration across the organisation. Their role is to communicate, empower teams, recognise performance and be the power of the example. Micromanagement, imposed ways of working, lack of flexibility around working hours are present less and less in the new world focused merely on outcomes, and not on how these are achieved.

Imagine an organisation where everyone comes to work engaged and determined to make a difference, where everyone takes the time to understand the challenges, is empowered to put forward their best ideas and understand the potential outcomes of various decisions. Now imagine everyone can make something happen and create value for your customers.

All organisations have outstanding people with the subject matter expertise and leadership potential. The organisation of the future makes a difference by creating the culture context for them to be leaders by empowering them to drive things forward, learn from failure and ultimately win.

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Paula Tibre is a Contributor on Outsourcing Advisors

Paula is currently the Global Director of Technology, Delivery Assurance at Paddy Power Betfair and the Site Director for the PaddyPower Betfair office in Cluj. She refers to herself as a Product and Technology passionate with 12+ years hands on experience in building products from concept to customer. With 360◌ view of business experience, setting new standards and adapting to multiple geographies and cultures, Paula has an outstanding drive to reach clear outcomes, while investing to grow others, set up new teams, boosting engagement across all areas and teams.

 Personally, Paula is an active learner and constantly transforming and evolving as a leader. She has a passion for writing, travelling, supporting others and the community she is part of, always focused on becoming a better person.



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