An ever-increasing pace of change, a volatile market and growing competition with over 100 million businesses launching each year are surefire warning signs to fast-growth companies. If they are looking to maintain their productivity and upward trajectory, then traditional ways of working are no longer enough. They're too slow, rigid and unresponsive.
That's why successful fast-growing companies are switching to an agile way of working. In fact, studies show that over 88% of North American and European businesses are using an agile methodology. But what actually is agile – and why is it so useful?
Back to basics
You might imagine some kind of complex operational theory, but that's far from the truth. Stripped back to the basics, being agile is about using self-organisation and collective intelligence to achieve greater flexibility and speed.
In other words, it's about making your processes adapt to the end product – not forcing your product to fit within the confines of pre-defined processes. Rather than deciding on an objective and then feeding back on your project only when it’s complete, you continually assess successes and limitations as you go and react to them immediately.
What does this mean for businesses?
For fast-growing firms, being agile's a key advantage in keeping up with the pace of change. But implementing it isn't a case of declaring from above that agile methods should be used. Rather, it's about reshaping your company culture to fit this new way of working. Here are a few ways it can be done:
- Driving change: making such a large cultural change means everyone, not just managers, needs to be on-board. Managers and line-of-business employees who have the qualities needed to implement an agile structure can act as models for the rest of the business. These individuals will have the analytical mindset to understand stakeholder needs and priorities, the creativity to solve unexpected problems on-the-go and the capacity to learn from their own experience.
Flexible working: moving to a feedback-focused mindset means that you no longer have one long process with feedback only when you can show a completed project after months of work. Rather, small and collaborative teams work in bursts of two weeks or so, with continuous feedback and testing. This means your team structures need to be adaptable – and flexible workspaces provide an easily scalable environment to quickly reshape teams on a regular basis. In fact, Regus studies show that 74% of companies worldwide find a flexible environment fosters creativity.