The 80s were a big deal to my generation. The 80s shaped my earliest memories. I cherish the dawn of the personal computer, video games, hair bands, rap, break dancing and so much more from back in the day. In terms of how to drive culture I have held on to literally nothing that was embraced in the 80s. For culture I look to the last 15 years of innovation for inspiration.
In terms of management culture what has changed since the 80s? Just about everything. In addition to the changes with the attitude of a servant leader, middle management’s role in development, self-organizing and rewarding teams versus individuals … a culture of continuous measurement with rapid feedback loops to adjust the plan for maximum results also has a significant impact on culture. This is especially true when turned inward to the employees of an organization.
Did you know that John Deere measures employee engagement and morale every two weeks? A company that achieved earnings of $1.94 billion in 2015 reaches back into their immense employee base every two weeks. That’s 26 times per year they are successfully conducting employee engagement surveys. So you may be wondering why such an intense focus on the employees every 2 weeks?
The reason …happy employees make happy customers. Employee measurement is the easy part, but that raises the next question: how do you create happy employees? The answer in my view is to implement an Agile methodology and mindset.
So, how does that translate into happy employees and a great culture? Imagine if you were working on an assembly line and you never got to see what the final product was. Day after day you did your part and completed your part of the task. Six, nine or even twelve months later, you were still working on the same product. You didn’t know what others were doing and you didn’t think the broader company was aware of your efforts. Yes, you may have been rewarded for your efforts along the way, but don’t you want to see the final product? The fruits of your labor? Well that’s were Agile changes the game.
In Agile, “The highest priority is to satisfy the customer”. Agile is worth the price of admission because it enables companies to drive better results. Agile allows for increased flexibility, which enables teams to better react and meet their customer’s needs. To leverage a famously overused cliché from Walter Gretzky (Wayne’s Dad), companies want to “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.”
Agile generates increased visibility of IT led activities within an enterprise. It creates an environment that promotes an inclusive culture through collaboration. This results in a culture that not only requests, but welcomes inputs into projects from all business units within an enterprise. Agile done right creates a culture that allows for experimenting and more importantly, collaboration.
Unlike other methodologies that rely on a project plan with features and goals set at the beginning of a project, Agile follows an incremental, iterative path. Agile allows for changing requirements over time. Based upon early and often feedback, the team can determine if they are headed in the wrong direction and quickly pivot. This results in eliminating the development of features that customers no longer need or want, while also eliminating the frustration within the development team.
By living and breathing in an Agile World, enterprises are more productive, able to respond and react to customer’s requests, increase internal visibility, and improve employee engagement and satisfaction. Ultimately, it results in happy employees.
So whether you refer to it as a mindset or a methodology, we all understand moving to an Agile environment isn’t easy and it isn’t a magic bullet. When your enterprise makes the decision to embrace Agile, the benefits reach farther than just the technology; it reaches to the people and ultimately the culture as well.
So put on a good hair band, grab a big white board and then design your internal feedback loops for a better culture. Just remember to iterate on your internal process frequently and be relentlessly repetitive with messaging to the entire organization the benefits of a lean / Agile culture. The result is a highly transparent culture that is always on the lookout for ways to better engage the team and by extension the customer.
At AgileCraft, we deliver the most comprehensive software solution available for scaling agile to the enterprise. AgileCraft transforms the way organizations enable and manage agile productivity across their enterprise, portfolios, programs, and teams by aligning business strategy with technical execution. To find out more visit us at www.agilecraft.com or follow us on twitter @theagilecraft or download our latest whitepaper An Insider's Perspective: Bank of America.