What does it mean to work agile?
agile work team

October 24, 2022

The topic of agility is becoming more and more important with the increasing digitalization of the working world. Organizations must react quickly to complex and dynamic processes and workflows. Agile working makes it possible to respond faster to change, collaborate better, and increase the quality of results. But how does it work exactly?

What is agility?

First, let’s define the term “agility” in more detail. Translated from Latin, “agilis” means something like “fast, active”. In a business context, it primarily implies adaptability to today’s market and work environment. This can be realized through various methods and frameworks, such as Scrum or Kanban. However, working agile is primarily connected to one’s mindset and value-system.In 2001, the “Agile Alliance”, a group of representatives from software development, met to establish the four fundamental values and twelve principles of working agile. The four values in the “Agile Manifesto of Software Development” are:
agile working_agile manifest
Today, agile working has expanded from software development to all industries and fields. These values still play a major role.

The basis for agile working

Organizations need a specific basis and certain prerequisites when they decide to work agile. One of the foundations for successful agile working is setting clear goals and guiding principles that all employees can identify with.Another key point is self-responsibility and autonomous teams. The teams and employees bear the responsibility themselves and make their own decisions, without the need to involve management. This shortens decision-making and saves time. In addition, feedback-loops are used at short intervals. This way, processes, working methods, and the team’s work can be continuously reviewed, adapted, and improved.Customer orientation is also crucial. Their needs and wishes are constantly questioned and considered. In addition, agile organizations seek personal exchange and actively request feedback and suggestions for improvement from customers.
agile working_basis

How can an agile working environment be introduced in organizations?

Introducing the agile values offers an entry point into working agile. Depending on the organization and industry, the focus on these values represents a small or big change. Extensive changes should always be accompanied by professional change management. Only when the cornerstones of an agile way of working are properly introduced can a company claim to be truly agile.
introducing agile working in organizations
In such a change process, it is important to create a shared understanding of how agile working could look like in the organization. The following questions can be asked: 
  • What does an agile working environment mean for my organization and tasks?
  • What could be obstacles and hurdles?
  • Which projects or teams are suitable for trying out agile working first?
  • Do we need an external agile coach or/and training?
  • Which methods do we want to introduce?
  • What main challenges do we see and what can we do to overcome them?

Agile Methods

There are different frameworks of agile working that have proven to be effective. These include the widely used Scrum method, Kanban, and Design Thinking. 
1. ScrumScrum is one of the most popular methods worldwide for agile working. This is mainly due to the fact that this method is simple and easy to understand.Self-organized Scrum teams work with predefined roles, such as the Scrum Master and the Product Owner. The Product Owner is responsible for the technical requirements of the product and maintains a list of these requirements – the product backlog. The Scrum Master ensures that the Scrum process is working smoothly and supports the team and the product owner in overcoming challenges.The development cycles, so-called “sprints”, are kept as short as possible (normally between two to four weeks), and feedback loops take place regularly. The product owner defines in advance which requirements are to be implemented in which sprint. At the beginning of each sprint there is a meeting of the Scrum Team called sprint planning, where the backlog for the sprint is being discussed.During the execution of the sprint, the daily Scrum takes place every morning – a 15-minute meeting in which the status is briefly discussed. This creates transparency and reduces the number of meetings. At the end of each sprint, a sprint review and retrospective take place. The sprint review includes the entire Scrum Team and, if necessary, the stakeholders. Here, the results of the sprint are presented and discussed. The sprint retrospective only involves the Scrum Team and creates a save space for sharing feedback and discussing possible improvements in processes. Afterwards, the next sprint starts.
agile working_scrum
Would you like to learn more about the Scrum method? In our learning program “Scrum – The agile framework,” you will learn everything you need to know about Scrum! Here you get a first impression of the content. 
2. KanbanThis method originated from the Toyota Production System (TPS). Production is aligned with customer demand. Therefore, it is a pull system.One essential part of this system is the Kanban board. In its simplest form, it has three columns: “To do”, “Doing”, and “Done”. Such a visualization of the work process helps to work transparently and efficiently. Work-in-process-limits (WIP-limits) help to focus on the most important tasks and ensure a good flow of work. A daily Kanban meeting is also part of the method.
agile working_kanban
But the Kanban method involves more than just the Kanban board. It is based on three fundamental principles that aim to achieve fast and steady flow, and continuous improvement:
  1. Start with what you have and respect current processes and responsibilities
  2. Strive for instrumental, evolutionary improvement
  3. Promote leadership at all levels
On the troodi learning platform, we offer an insightful learning program on the method: “Kanban fundamentals” with certified Kanban trainers Rochelle Roos and Mike Freislich of We Do Change. By clicking here you can get a first impression of the content. 
3. Design ThinkingWith Design Thinking, it is possible to approach complex problems systematically. The main focus is to understand the needs of (possible) customers. One works in multidisciplinary teams and inspiring spaces to promote the creative process. The iterative design thinking process includes six phases:1. Understanding: First, you define the initial situation and the problem to be solved.2. Observing: This is about engaging directly with customers. You want to analyze and understand their needs and priorities.3. Define perspective: Based on the first two phases, you now combine the observations into an overall picture and define the target group by creating personas.4. Develop ideas: In this phase, the team develops ideas on how to solve the problem for the target group. These ideas are then evaluated and prioritized based on impact, feasibility, and cost-effectiveness.5. Build prototype: Now, the task is to develop prototypes. This can happen in the form of sketches, models, or mockups.6. Testing: The last step is to collect feedback from customers. Based on this, improvements can be made. It might also be necessary to go through the process all over again.
agile working_design thinking
You want to know more about Design Thinking? Then our learning program “Design Thinking – Boosting Innovation and Creativity” with Rea Eldem is just right for you! You can watch a trailer of the learning program here. ConclusionNow you know more about what agile working is and how it can be used in organizations. You learned about agile values as the foundation of agile and you got an overview on different agile frameworks.There is one thing to keep in mind: The implementation of agile working will only be successful if team members recognize that this can have a positive outcome on their daily working lives. Changes in values, principles and routines are necessary for agile working. This process requires discipline, but it pays off eventually.Agile working has a motivating effect on employees because they are given more responsibility and feel trusted. Aspects such as collaboration, transparency, and communication support team spirit. In addition, this style of working can increase productivity and innovation, as there is constant adaptation to the needs of customers and the market. This also minimizes risks and increases customer satisfaction. You want to learn how to work agile? At troodi, we offer a learning program to help you do just that. Our agile coach and certified Scrum Master Julian Wonner will guide you through the individual chapters. Here’s what you can take away from the learning program:
  • History and definition of agile
  • Identification of the differences between classic and agile ways of working
  • Reflection on agile values and principles
  • Overview of agile frameworks and methods
  • Introduction of agile methods in a team
Watch a trailer of the learning program here. You can get to know our learning platform with a free trial account. If you have any further questions contact us by mail or phone.
Jasmin Lütke-Laxen
Marketing
Jasmin kommt ursprünglich aus Münster und studierte Design- und Projektmanagement in Soest. Im Rahmen ihres Studiums sammelte sie diverse Praxiserfahrung im Bereich Kommunikationsdesign, Produktmanagement und Online-Marketing. Sie ist in der Medien- und Marketing-Welt zuhause.

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