Agile Behavioral Principles for the Digital Age
The principles underlying agile from a software development perspective appear in the “Agile Manifesto,” published in 2001 by a small group of IT leaders. Is your enterprise ready to adopt an agile culture? Explore these five tenets of agile culture to assess whether your culture, work styles and behavior are a digital enabler or inhibitor in today's high-speed, ultracompetitive, ingenious digital economy.
People Over Process: Spotify engineers align themselves in overlapping communities focused on objectives (squads), work environment (tribes), skillsets (chapters), and interests (guilds), so they can freely experiment with tools and processes. Zappos, likewise, encourages employees to self-organize.
Dynamics Over Documents: Relying heavily on pre-scripted documentation doesn’t work in a dynamic digital environment. Agile teams need to be configured for speed, working in short iterations – while, of course, frequently referring back to the original objectives and principles.
Collaboration Over Cascading: At Spotify and Zappos, the culture is less about owning and more about sharing. This collaborative mindset provides bountiful benefits to both the enterprise and employees; it leads to better communication, trust, knowledge distribution, and adaptive and shared leadership.
Adaptive Over Prescriptive: Does your enterprise invite disruption, or is the focus overwhelmingly more on policy and standards? Instead of asking “Why can’t it be done?” people in an agile culture are empowered to seek answers to the question “How can it be done?”
Leadership Over Management: Enterprise agility is only possible if the CIO and other executives and managers view their jobs as to “serve and enable.” At Spotify, this means that leaders focus on what problem needs to be solved, but let the teams figure out how to solve it.
Adopting agility requires a level of flexibility, inclusivity and, above all, trickle-down C-level support and behavior modeling. Not every organization has the appetite and adaptability to go down this path. But for those that do so successfully, the reward is a competitive edge in the digital economy.