September 6, 2018

4 things NZ businesses should know about the agile methodology


Heard of the agile methodology? It’s been in the news recently as many New Zealand companies – including big names such as BNZ, ANZ, and Spark – have moved to agile. Originally designed to help companies deal with the fast pace of digital innovation, agile is an adaptive method of doing business based on collaboration between self-organising and cross-functional teams.

Many organisations have seen huge success with agile. Energy company WorleyParsons in Australia, for example, adopted agile after the price of oil dropped significantly in 2015. In the first 100 days, the firm increased its cash position by 20 per cent. Within a year, it had cost savings totalling $400 million, the Harvard Business Review reports.

But NZ businesses considering adoption need to be aware of the essentials before they decide if it is the right fit for them.

1) There are four values and 12 principles to agile

The key values are:

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation.
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
  4. Responding to change over following a plan.

Agile’s 12 principles include face-to-face interaction, simplicity, regular reflection and customer satisfaction through continuous delivery.

There are many guiding principles to agile, mainly centred around teamwork and meeting customer needs. There are many guiding principles to agile, mainly centred around teamwork and meeting customer needs.

2) The clue’s in the name – be agile and adapt!

Agile is all about adapting to change – after all, it was specifically designed for dealing with disruption. So the specific way of working you start with may not be the exact one you end with. It’s up to you to identify where things are and aren’t working and change accordingly.

3) Do this through continuous learning and self-reflection

Continuous learning isn’t always a priority in business, but it should be. In agile, you’ll hold frequent retrospectives that require you to look back on the previous two, three or four weeks. The idea of this is to find areas for improvement, and then change up your methodology accordingly.

4) And through teamwork!

Teamwork is also essential. In agile, the team’s needs come above any individual element, and retrospectives are a chance for the whole team to reflect on what went well, and what could be improved. Each team member will have had a slightly different experience, meaning they may come up with things you’ve never thought about.

This is why self-managed teams are also important to agile. Each team will operate slightly differently – and this is to be encouraged, because agile is all about what works best for everyone, not just imposing a way of doing things because it was part of the original business plan.

If you’re going through a period of change or disruption in your organisation, it might be time for a new leader. Contact the executive recruitment specialists at JacksonStone today for more information.