Everyone wants to work in an agile way, but at the same time the meaning of agility is unclear. Sofigate expert Otso Takala clarifies what agility is and explains what kind of operating models companies and organisations need to support it.

Being agile is no longer just about software development. In the 2020s, the focus is on business agility, company-wide agile transformation or even agile HR.

I often find that it is not entirely clear to our clients what they want to achieve with agility. The concept of agility is so popular that companies have a fear of missing out if they are not part of it. However, agility itself is not the goal: being agile is a way to achieve something.

Agile ways of working can help in many ways. Typical goals are often something like this:

  1. the ability to react to change in a controlled manner,

  2. increasing transparency,

  3. bringing products and services to market rapidly; and

  4. understanding customer needs better.

In the context of agile, there is also a lot of talk about giving responsibility to teams, continuous learning, and providing employees with more meaningful work. When considering the goals of an organisation, the needs of individuals should not be overlooked. Employees are ultimately the ones who work in an agile way or end up resisting it.

The leap to agility doesn’t happen in an instant – a defined model helps

A change to becoming an agile organisation does not happen overnight, it requires extensive changes in practices. An existing operating model helps a lot.

A big part of adapting to agility has to do with a new way of thinking, but new ways of working can be considered equally important as well. However, if an organisation does not have a defined operating model, it is difficult to see what is really going to change.

Agile is not a way to run a business. It is a way to support the design, development and maintenance of business, products, and services in a coordinated and flexible manner.

What is a Business Technology model?

The Business Technology model, the BT Standard, is an open management framework that you can use in the design, building, and managing of information technology in the midst of digitalisation.

It is easy to adapt to the model and it helps to understand what kind of capabilities organisations need nowadays. Agile is a part of the latest version of the BT standard: for example in the minimum viable governance development, and business orientation.

The operating model helps to scale agile

Only when an organisation knows how to run its business and what its operating model is, it can begin to become more agile.

An agile way of working requires more discipline and planning than is often thought. So first, adopt a modern operating model which supports agility and is suitable for your organisation.

When your organisation operates according to the new model, it is the right time to embark on a larger-scale agile transformation and utilise the frameworks meant for it.

 

About the author

Otso Takala works at Sofigate as an agile coach, a development management expert and an implementer of new ways of working.

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