Agile Working has become the buzzword for how to turn your business into a thriving, creative and productive hub while attracting and retaining the best talent. It’s moving from flexible working to smarter working. And it does what it says if you follow the recipe.
Agile Working was originally created by Toyota to get production lines moving faster. It gives people the ability to work in various locations to complete the tasks necessary to do their jobs. Specific desks do not exist – you can work from a collaborative space, a breakout area, home, a café, or wherever benefits the task at hand. And employees are supported with practices and processes that allow them to be agile. Agile Working makes work seem less gray and more technicolor. It’s enticing, exciting and human. And it works.
In 1989, Kenwyn Smith published a study entitled “Fix the Women”, describing a consulting situation characterized by fighting between two women in a troubled unit of a state hospital. After assessing the behaviors, the researchers determined the women’s hostility was actually fueled by feelings of competitiveness among the three senior men in the unit.
This is a phenomenon called parallel process thinking: when dynamics of one system are picked up and enacted by another system. In this case, the competitive dynamics of the men in the hospital unit fueled the conflict between these two women.
Consultants don’t always think of the theories associated with the work we do. They become part of us and our work. We talk to people and through years of experience, theories in behavioral science organically drive what we do, how we speak to people, how we solve problems, how we help, and how we advise.
When focusing on results with clients, especially within a limited timeframe, energy is usually spent toward practical application. But this theory is important because it affects everybody. If you can understand parallel process thinking, then it has potential to serve as a guide for better problem-solving.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to lead a webinar about dancing bears in colorful ball gowns. I mean, who hasn’t? The subtext here (and arguably the more important focus) was to discover new methods of disruption and innovation.
Early in my career, I hesitated to speak up on client calls with senior leaders. I thought my opinions were wrong and needed strong validation from my team in order to share.
After sending several messages about it to my manager, she finally told me, “Just speak up and tell them what you think!” That emphatic comment got me thinking, WHY was I behaving that way?
Only when I challenged my assumptions and way of thinking was I finally able to change my behavior and speak up in meetings with these leaders, even in the same room. It was a big step in realizing that I needed to break my old mental model.
Today, organizations must delight customers, beat competitors to market, and pivot quickly when needed. The increasing rate of change in today’s complex business environment demands more value in less time. And quite often, the ability to deliver quality software quickly and reliably is what drives success in this new world of business value.
In finance, the most innovative banks have developed technology that allows us to deposit and manage money from our smartphones. Apple and Pandora help us discover and purchase music within seconds of release. Successful retailers are finding innovative ways to eliminate friction in the customer experience, allowing us to purchase, make returns, and offer recommendations, all without stepping outside our homes.
When organizations keep up with the velocity of technological change, they possess an undoubtable competitive advantage over their peers. And many of these innovative organizations are adopting a DevOps methodology to reach the velocities they need. But this methodology isn’t just about improving technology and revamping processes. Organizational culture plays a critical role in promoting the behaviors required to safely sustain the faster pace.
As the saying goes, even the longest journey starts with just one step.
Over the years, we’ve engaged with many clients who are dedicated to creating large-scale, significant, and sustainable culture change in their organizations in an effort to drive success. Unfortunately, many of these well-intentioned executives believe there is a silver bullet—some grand gesture of change—that will accomplish their goals.
While significant changes can and do drive sustainable performance improvements, truly transformational change results from a few deceptively simple things.
Technological innovation is continuing to accelerate on a hockey stick growth curve. Companies like IBM, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon are bringing cognitive computing capability to the masses. And it’s only a matter of time until nearly every aspect of our work and personal lives are impacted.
These advances are still relatively new. Time will tell when and how they change things, but it will happen and it will happen relatively quickly. In a recent article, Steve Denning reminds us that a repeating pattern of massive transformation has occurred regularly over the last 250 years.
With massive change at our doorstep, now is the time to begin a collective discussion to help leaders navigate this new age.