Agile = Trust
”The agile work method often aids flexibility in the organisation, enables faster processes and a better working culture for both individuals and groups.”
To succeed in creating a culture that supports the agile work method the organisation needs trust and togetherness. So says Lagotto’s senior search consultant Christos Voglis who has considerable experience in the area – and who has recruited competence to, and coached companies during, an agile transformation. Below he shares his views on the agile work method.
”We must become more agile!”
Do you recognise this? We have probably all heard this in meetings, by the coffee machine or on Teams. Many organisations have implemented the agile work method. The agile method often aids flexibility in the organisation, enables faster processes and a better working culture for both individuals and groups. Most companies do not have a culture or history of agile methods. There are a few companies that have built their business based on agile methods and an agile culture, especially among start-ups. But most companies need to rethink and to think in new ways – to transform in order to go over to agile methods and processes.
However these transformations are not always easy.
It is not really possible to make these changes through the theoretical presentations of models, investments in new IT systems, by introducing new job titles or new reporting lines, by building Tribes or by allowing smaller groups to learn iterative methods led by agile coaches. It is rather that company culture and behaviour needs to change. To become a culture built on trust and togetherness in the organisation. To form a true agile culture, trust must be the basis of all relationships. Qualities such as curiosity, personal responsibility, learning, trust and co-operation are norms for all employees. It is important that this culture permeates through all parts of the organisation – from management to all staff members.
How do you build an agile culture?
The agile method can only become a reality if the management and owners in a company also adopt an agile method and become a good example for the employees. The most difficult part in becoming agile is to build trust and togetherness. This requires that each individual experiences freedom, trusts their colleagues and believes in the company. Building such a culture takes time.
I can see a lot of agile thinking in team sports, an arena where I have been very active. The best team I played in – and also the most successful team – was not the one in which we trained daily and for many hours. It was instead my sixth form college team.
We played in the Swedish national championships, both indoors and outdoors, and thereafter we went to a football tournament in the USA. The team consisted of players from many different local clubs. Our coach had an A4-paper. On that paper was written what was expected of each player on the pitch. It was a business plan, or an action plan.
The coach coined the phrase “togethership” which became our watchword. We beat different Swedish national sixth form teams with players from the top Swedish leagues. What we had in the team was trust and togetherness. We played 28 matches in that season – and we won them all. We did not have the same quality at an individual level as our opponents, but in that culture and in that team we were as a group at a level equivalent to the national team.
4 cornerstones of an agile culture
To build an agile organisation takes time. One can talk about four cornerstones when building an agile culture:
1. Customer first. There is a genuine interest and curiosity about the customer, what is important for the customer and how you can help the customer to solve their problem or improve their operations.
2. Responsibility and trust. The staff member knows her responsibility to deliver and the leaders trusts that the team member will do it. All initiatives are valuable and everyone believes in people’s ability.
3. Feedback and learning. In an agile culture feedback is encouraged and continuous learning – testing and experimenting – is the core of how we work. This means we need to let go of the view that something is either right or wrong, and instead have the attitude “let’s try and see if it works”.
4. Teamwork. A key component of agile is working in cross-functional and independently run teams. For this to work the team needs to work towards an agreed goal and work actively with its development as one team.
In the final analysis if the organisation doesn’t understand that togethership is equal to trust, and agile is equal to togethership, then the concept falls apart. Then it doesn’t matter which products you have or which players you have in your team.
Please get in touch with us at Lagotto if you would like to know more about how you can build an agile organisation, or if you would like to bring in one of our agile coaches to help you get going: email@example.com.