Agile working uncovered

We talk all things Agile with an industry expert – what it is, why your business needs it and how to adopt it.

No two businesses are the same. They face different problems and have different goals. But, what they do share is their desire to make their businesses better and more streamlined. And, many have developed an appreciation for a transformative way of working, which is revolutionising the business world – agility.

Agile working is helping businesses to solve their day-to-day issues and reach their goals, so it’s time you asked the question – how can I become Agile and how do I know if it’s the right move for my business?

Providing the answers is Keith Richards, CEO of agileKRC, which provides expert advice to organisations who want to improve their working capabilities. In this interview, Keith reveals how to implement this Agile culture and proves it’s for all businesses, of all sizes.

(To uncover what Agile working really means, and what it could mean for your business, read our article here.)

When did you realise a more Agile way of working was needed?

At first, I worked in IT. I realised that a lot of projects were failing so a more Agile approach was needed. From 1997 to 2007, I spent most of my time trying to convince people it was the right way to go, which was hard work at times. Now, it’s a lot easier as everyone can see the benefits of working in an Agile way. So, throughout the last twenty years, I’ve spent a lot of time helping companies of all sizes, and in a variety of sectors with Agile training and consulting.

What is stopping SME’s from adopting Agile working?

I think it’s because SME’s consider Agile working an enterprise or IT thing. And if you go back fifteen years, that might be true. In my view, everyone needs to be looking at a more Agile way of working. If you’re an SME there are many concepts in agility that you need to use in today’s world because it’s so fast-moving. It’s always moved fast but, with things like digitalisation, the model of how we work is being broken. The key word to focus on is ‘responsive’. As a business, you have to be able to adapt quickly to change – being Agile is a part of this.

How would you persuade those who are resistant to Agile working that it’s something they need?

One mistake made by businesses is going Agile just because others are. First, you need to identify the problems you’re having and then, you have to understand what being Agile means and work out whether or not it’s going to solve these problems. If you want to be on time, handle changing situations and do so, without compromising the quality of what you’re doing, then it can help immensely. It’s also important to realise agility is a way of getting to something – it’s not the destination.

What’s the technology that enables Agile working?

There’s no one size fits all technology for Agile working. An SME can go a long way with Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel. When you hit a pain point, you have to work out how you want to solve it and then look at the tools that will support you. SME’s often make the mistake of investing in tooling before investing in the mindset and philosophy of a new way of working.

What is the benefit of Agile working to employees?

Agile working is a huge benefit to an employee’s autonomous decision making. You’ve got to empower them to make these quick decisions, and be collaborative. When you work that way, nine times out of ten, employees prefer it to a more traditional way of working because they feel more valued. If you want to be quick, be on time and be responsive, then you have to trust them in their Agile approach and not just rely on senior management.

How can SMEs measure the success of their Agile methodology?

Agility is an enabler so, measuring the success of it is very difficult. You don’t know if it’s because of your new way of working or because of a stroke of luck. It may be a case of doing a subjective survey to discover what your workplace was like before and after Agile working but, it’s definitely worth doing. In fact, many businesses are surprised at how successful it is.

To prepare for the future and the inevitable changes it’ll make to your business, discover the six technologies that will make you truly Agile.