Consistently Agile

“This is the way we do things around here”. Can a company who says that really be agile?

I’d like to propose an interesting conundrum — consistency delivers agility.

Think about paddling a canoe upstream. To move forward, you need to paddle on the left and the right, left and right, and you must keep paddling so you don’t go backwards. As you reach a shallow section, you keep paddling on both sides, but you guide the canoe toward the deeper channel by paddling a little harder on one side. If you haven’t been looking ahead, you might run aground.

I have been working with a telecommunications company who has moved from being a small player on the Australian stage to offering services internationally. As the technology behind telecommunications changes, this service provider has expanded their services to address the risks of being stuck in a shrinking market and to embrace new opportunities that brings.

One of the challenges this dedicated team has recognised is that to succeed in a new market, they need mature processes both operationally and strategically.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Operationally, we want to reproduce (almost cookie-cutter style) the activities that occur in the day-to-day operations and management of service delivery. New branches and divisions shouldn’t be reinventing the wheel, so to speak.

This might seem obvious, but the introduction of new overseas staff, new cultures, and new legislative environments, has the potential to expose weaknesses in existing processes where there has been a lot of assumed knowledge. It is essential that standards are clearly set.

Mature Strategic Planning is Essential

Strategic processes become even more important, as new people are brought into the planning process, and are responsible for delivering results. Immature strategic planning means a reactive response to market changes, but a mature planning process that is embedded into the yearly and quarterly cycles allows management to be more proactive, and therefore successfully agile.

Agile is not reactive, it is the ability to anticipate and plan. Are you doing this consistently?