The concept is nice in theory: an organization must have an agile management. But, how do you implement this management culture within your organization? And how does it work on a daily basis?
The concept of agile management
“Basically, the concept of agile management stems from the IT world, where projects are often very heavy and will take several years to complete,” explains Nathalie Lemieux, professor at UQAM and specialist in change management.
There is a willingness in the sector to divide the work among several small independent teams, each with the flexibility to make last-minute changes that could improve the project.
Formed in the 1990s, the agile method hit big in 2001 with the Agile Manifesto, which presents 4 key values and 12 principles that ensure agility within a working group.
From there, we noted an openness to change, greater customer participation and the creation of small self-managed teams looking to become more efficient by integrating change in an iterative fashion.
Since then, the method has expanded into other sectors. “Organizations have taken note of what was happening in their IT departments,” says Lemieux. “And they wondered: how can we adapt this approach to the rest of the organization?”
Let’s try to answer the question.
One bite at a time
Among the manifesto’s founding principles, Nathalie Lemieux takes particular interest in the last point: the iterative approach, where changes are integrated in small doses, seeing what works best along the way. It is this principle that helps companies best adopt the method.
“We focus on small gains that can be implemented quickly, without analysis, rather than big changes that would require the redesign of business processes, which can sometimes take more than a year.”
Getting there: through regular team meetings, which may be informal, where we discuss problems and successes.
Lemieux proposes learning from organizations that have made it a habit to share updates at the end of a shift, citing the example of a production line or a hospital department, where team meetings mark a change in shifts.
“Agility is a state of mind. You get used to keeping track of files. You identify the practices that work in order to systematize them,” states the professor.
Having the right attitude
To increase an organization’s agility, the manager must first establish an environment of trust and demonstrate sensitivity, believes Lemieux. For the many feedbacks may offend some people.
“When you change something, it means that there was problem,” she explains. “It can be seen as critical to the employee.” We then emphasize the goal: simply put, allowing for the best ideas and best practices to come to the surface.