Agile working

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Sounds good, doesn’t it? But what does ‘Agile working’ actually mean? Well, it’s a way of working that helps organisations, teams and individual members of staff to quickly switch what they’re doing and change direction. If you’re capable of doing that, you increase the chance of achieving better and faster results.

The core of Agile working

There’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to Agile working. Having said that, Agile working is always about two things:

  1. Strategic alignment
    • Ensuring that everything and everyone in the organisation contributes to the strategy and continually does whatever has the highest priority.
  2. Optimal customer value
    • Knowing what creates value for the customer, delivering this value quickly and carrying out continuous assessments.

Agile working ensures that your organisation can perform optimally because you:

  • Respond swiftly to internal and external changes, thereby increasing your agility. This results in less waste.
  • Continuously deliver optimal customer value through short-cycle collaboration.
  • Working at a sustainable pace. You deliver working solutions at a stable pace so that your team doesn’t burn out.
  • Continually make the necessary adjustments in order to deliver a final result that completely fits your customer’s wishes.

In 2015, ING was the first Dutch bank to realise that working according to traditional structures and hierarchies wouldn’t keep up with the need for companies to continually adapt to ever-changing customer demands. The speed at which these customer demands change has undergone an explosive growth and is being influenced by technological developements as well as other factors. This is why ING embraced Agile working as its new method of working. It has made the bank more innovative and better able to continually fulfil customer expectations. To learn more about it, take a look at the animation about ING’s agile way of working.  

7 crucial conditions for agile working

In order to successfully become an Agile organisation, you must not only start working in an Agile way but also really want to ‘be’ agile. This means that you must dare to fully let go of the current way in which your organisation is organised and managed. Yes, this does require courage. House of Performance believes that the Agile way of working is built on 7 principles:

  1. Steering towards results
  2. Leading through coaching
  3. A feedback culture
  4. Everything should revolve around customer value
  5. Focus on continuous improvement
  6. The chain should work together
  7. Agile values should always come first

Agile values

The Agile values adopted by House of Performance are FOCUS, COURAGE, RESPECT, TRANSPARANCY and COMMITMENT. These concepts become valuable when each team fills them with actual behaviour. For instance, Agile working can become the start of the perfect Service Profit Chain: when satisfied employees do their work better and make customers happy, these happy customers create extra turnover.

FOCUS, COURAGE, RESPECT, TRANSPARANCY and COMMITMENT

The disadvantages of Agile working

The Agile way of working can also have its downsides. These may appear if your organisation is not prepared to work on cultural changes in addition to implementing the Agile methods. For instance, there may be very defensive reactions to feedback when it’s not normal practice within an organisation to give or receive feedback. This may cause employees to ‘close up’ rather than becoming more open: open to learning, to improving and to experimenting again. Yet experimentation is only possible if people are allowed to make mistakes, and innovation is only possible if experimentation is encouraged. If you’d like to learn to translate Agile working practices into making actual results visible, give us a call!

Why Agile working isn’t always the solution

The particular forms of Agile working that may suit your organisation best depend on factors that include your existing culture, ambitions and readiness to do things differently.

Agile working & HR

Agile working influences all layers and roles within an organisation. For instance, HR may have a huge influence on how agile your organisation can be in practice. An agile HR policy assumes a strategic workforce plan that is continually adjusted in line with the changing customer demand. An agile organisation demands employees who blossom in an environment of continuous change; who are energised by it because they understand and see that responding to it truly delivers results. And if you want employees to be able to coexist with continuous change, you must facilitate that by offering them the opportunity to keep developing and learning in order to get the most out of themselves and out of the organisation.