How to embed agile thinking at every level of your company
Change isn’t just happening fast. It’s skyrocketing. As technology, markets, and customer behavior change, you need to be able to adapt and respond. The goals and strategies you have in place today might not be the things that drive your business into tomorrow.
Think about the example of both Blockbuster and Netflix. Blockbuster failed to adapt to changing customer behavior. However, in its early stages, Netflix was able to read the market, leverage an opportunity, and pivot from mailing DVDs to becoming one of the largest and most successful companies in the world.
As we navigate changes and disruptions, our approach to setting goals must adapt. That means making our goals more agile and flexible to change based on what we’re learning, the opportunities that present themselves, and the needs of our customers.
Three ways to foster agile thinking in the workplace
Here are three areas you can focus on to help bring agility to your goals by applying agile principles.
At the company level
- Write goals in a clear and simple way. This way, people can easily understand and connect with them. Additionally, ensure they’re clearly measurable so that people know the target they’re aiming for. This is more challenging than it sounds, so treat it like practice - you may need to rewrite them more than once.
- Store your goals in an easily-accessible place. Update them regularly (every 2-4 weeks).
- Communicate often. Sharing progress or decisions will enable you to pivot frequently.
For example, at Envato, we have an all-company meeting every Tuesday morning. The focus is on communicating progress towards our goals, updates in market conditions, general company updates, and an opportunity to meet new starters. We are constantly linking back to our goals to provide the rationale for the decisions we are making as a company. This also helps to make them stick with our teams.
At the program level
- Set a single, accountable owner for each goal. Empower the teams working on that goal to drive the outcomes required to achieve these goals. These outcomes could be external or internal based on who your customer is.
- Get creative. Continually explore opportunities that drive your desired outcomes. What opportunities are presented as your market, segments, and customer behaviors change? Explore innovative ways to leverage them.
- Get in the habit of continually reviewing your roadmaps and plans. Adjust and pivot them based on the feedback you’re receiving from customers and what you’re learning.
For example, at Envato, each department brings its team together at the start of the quarter to share plans, any adjustments to the company roadmap, and what we’ve learned from the previous quarter.
At the team level
- Time-box your focus as a team. Make you explore, develop, and create solutions that drive the opportunity and outcomes that link to your company goals.
- Set a goal for that time box. What do you want to achieve, and how can you measure its success? Here is a template to try if you need some inspiration to develop your goal.
- Come together regularly as a team. During these gatherings, discuss your progress towards the goal.
- Seek feedback at the end of your time-box. Did what you work on create value for your customer?
For example, at Envato, most teams have a daily standup, where they come together to share their progress, check in to see if anyone needs help, and review their time-box (or sprint) goal to see if they’re on track to achieving it.
Finally, remember that this is all practice, and if something is not working, reflect on it and explore ways to improve it. This is also how we currently approach some agile practices at Envato, and there's no hard and fast rule you need to follow. Take the time to understand how it could be incorporated into your business.