Back To CourseHow Organizations Become Agile
5 chapters | 40 lessons
Scott has been a faculty member in higher education for over 10 years. He holds an MBA in Management, an MA in counseling, and an M.Div. in Academic Biblical Studies.
Correctly leveraging the power of agile transformation is contingent upon an appropriate understanding that agile is a road rather than a destination. It isn't something an organization becomes; it's what they are.
If you're already a business leader, you've probably already experienced the frustration that can come from this misunderstanding. You might have heard it in a question something like, 'So when will we know we're agile?' Perhaps even worse, 'How much will it cost to become an agile organization?' These questions come from stakeholders who have only minimal understanding of what it means to be an agile organization, so quick wins are one way to provide stakeholder's with a clearer picture of what it means to be agile.
In fairness to skeptical stakeholders, you'd probably be a skeptic too if someone proposed a transformation with no timeline, budget, or even definitive sign of success. Imagine shopping for a new, high-end business copier/printer and listening to sales pitch from someone who couldn't demonstrate the best of the machine's features on demand. Instead, the salesperson says something like, 'Trust me. Lots of businesses use this machine, and they tell me it works well.' That probably wouldn't fly too well, right?
It's only natural that people investing time or money in something want to know what their resources are going to bring them in return. But an agile transformation takes time, and without a defined end point, agile leaders must be aware of the need to demonstrate results early so that stakeholder support is quickly captured and maintained.
Quick wins are one way to earn genuine support for agile--even if it isn't properly understood just yet. Quick wins have these important qualities:
Technically, quick wins can come from just about any area of an organization assuming that they meet the criteria we just covered. However, some business processes tend to be more troublesome than others. The impact of this is that your starting point to find these quick wins can be looking in areas similar to these examples.
In an effort to make the most of scarce resources, business leaders make decisions every day that alienate a small group of customers in favor of pleasing larger ones. Although this isn't wrong, it's one of the most obvious places to look for an agile quick win. Let's go back to our printer/copier example for a moment. The traditional mindset says, 'The features on this machine need to please our biggest customers.'
In contrast, the customer-centered agile mindset is something more akin to saying something like:
'What exactly do our small customers ask for that we can't currently provide? Is there any way we could put these features into the machine for a maximum return on a minimal effort?'
In this case, a quick win would be finding a way to slip some of these features into the machine in order to recapture some of the lost customers. Nothing proves the value of an investment as strongly as recapturing a customer who had previously found a product or service so lacking that they walked away for a different vendor.
If you were to fall down and break your ankle, it's likely that you'd have a bit of trouble getting around. One option would be to go see a doctor and get the ankle fixed. Another cheaper option, however, would be to grab a walking stick so that you could hobble around without paying for the services of a physician. We all know why this doesn't work. The doctor fixes the ankle, but the walking stick is just a crutch. In business, this 'crutch' is known as a work-around. Work-arounds occur when the root cause of a problem hasn't been fixed, so employees try to hobble around it using an inefficient process.
When one of these work-arounds is well-known, finding a permanent solution can be a quick win. If you're selling business copiers or printers, an exaggerated example of the customer-centered agile approach might sound something like:
'Wow--every time they want to copy both sides of a paper, they have to open the lid, turn the document over, and then close the lid to copy the other. Let's make our customers happy be using a two-sided document feeder. That'll cut out the entire second half of that clumsy process.'
This Latin phrase meaning 'seize the day' is a third example of a potential quick win for the agile organization. Being agile means being able to quickly adjust to meet a new need or customer expectation. For a document center salesperson, the opportunity might present itself after a scan of the State legislature's agenda indicates the potential for new privacy regulations regarding fax machines. If lawmakers are proposing a new rule that would prohibit a fax with personal information from being 'in the open', the agile company might 'seize the day' and get a quick win by being the first (or only) player that can offer the customer a machine that will comply. Not only does it give the win in meeting the customer's specific need, but it also might lead a customer to think, 'Nice--these guys really know what they're doing. Nobody else seems to even be aware of this, but this company is already offering a solution. Let's go with their product.'
Agile is a path, not a destination. It's also a paradigm that mainly focuses on an organization or company's customers. However, because stakeholders often don't quite grasp the nuance of agile being a path and not a destination, quick wins can demonstrate why the agile mindset helps a business thrive. Quick wins are business problems, or pain points, that can be solved relatively quickly and inexpensively, but are significant enough to be worth solving. Quick wins demonstrate the difference between a traditional paradigm and the agile paradigm in a way that shows stakeholders why they want to be agile rather than achieve agile. Examples of quick wins that we covered include finding work-arounds, which occur when the root cause of a problem hasn't been fixed, so employees try to hobble around it using an inefficient process, recapturing lost customers, and even using agile to be agile by employing the principles of Carpe Diem (Latin for 'seize the day').
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Already a member? Log InBack
Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.
To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page
Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.
Back To CourseHow Organizations Become Agile
5 chapters | 40 lessons
Next LessonCreating a Brand for the Agile Transformation Process