Today, business models transform at blinding speed. The average life expectancy for a Fortune 500 company has declined from seventy-five years to less than fifteen. We see Microsoft laying off thousands of veteran employees and hiring a start-up guru, to help them move faster. An entirely new driving force has become essential to motivate and engage employees. And as Marc Andreessen quipped in 2011: “Software is eating the world.”
The software industry has collectively destroyed the consumer’s satisfaction with the status quo. The adage, “If it is not broke, don’t fix it.” has become resoundingly inaccurate. Establishing a unique and differentiated position to be sustained over long periods of time is no longer a strategic option for most businesses. Consumers now expect a fresh product, a new point of view or the next iteration fast and often.
The ability to leverage vital business lessons proved through the agile development model has allowed innovative organizations to find their competitive edge.
Four Enterprise-Level Power Tips taken from Agile & Lean
1. How to innovate
Instead of spending months or even years behind the velvet curtain preparing for “the big reveal,” build the tiniest thing (with value) as possible- the MVP. This allows you to test your hypothesis for innovation without investing a great deal of resources. Then get to market as fast as you possibly can! This allows for early stage feedback, experimentation and modifications. If reactions are positive, iterate rapidly, amplify and keep learning.
2. How to get everyone aligned
Teams must first be united by a common vision to serve a higher purpose. A higher purpose which is indeed larger than the business and much larger than the people who work inside it. Once this is clearly defined, teams require trust, support and an environment to get the job done. This may seem obvious but talk is cheap in this arena. Taking action is much more difficult. Ultimately it means the fundamental appropriation of power, coupled with the mindful pursuit of collaboration across all disciplines. Everyone, from executives to the front-line staff check their egos at the door and come together to look at gaps, analyze strengths and weaknesses in the team composition. They provide 1:1 coaching in order to groom key team members for future roles. But perhaps, one of the more meaningful outcomes of this process is preserving the connection of senior executives to grass roots obstacles, challenges, as well as successes. This sparks continual improvement, builds momentum and fosters autonomy paired with accountability.
3. How to make decisions
Collect data, establish and utilize meaningful metrics now! (i.e. Burn-down charts) There is a common misconception that Agile about doing adhoc work, without documentation or planning. On the contrary – good agile practices use meaningful metrics to predict future outcomes and requirements. The major difference however, is that success is not about compliance to the original plan. It is about interpreting important data and making nimble, real-time business decisions. This allows for ‘emergent’ projects to take off. There are many instances where the final solution is not and perhaps, cannot be known from the start. The complexity is simply too great. Instead of boiling the ocean, we rely on “just-enough” planning. Then we measure, continuously becoming increasingly informed, making better decisions and adapting to current conditions.
4. How to manage knowledge and requirements
One of the major challenges of innovation is avoiding the groupthink. Projects quickly go off the rails when teams over-compromise, lose sight of the hard facts and begin to spiral. Work is completed, edited, revised and pivoted to the point of ending back at the beginning. Instead, we must recognize the strategic importance of the Product Owner. It is this individual’s sole priority to define strategies and tactics that meet key business requirements. Then, continually improve based on learning in each iteration and the evolving needs of the organization. Thus, we define a Product Roadmap that drives business value.
Aequilibrium has used this process and our team’s two decades of experience to help imagine new products and develop disruptive business software. Our clients in every industry from finance to higher education to e-commerce have experienced success, first hand.
We didn’t just partner with Monexa; we became an integral part of their team for the duration of the project. We embedded a carefully chosen group of experienced, high-level technologists, strategists, developers and project managers into Monexa’s existing team with the aim of shortening their release cycle, which could be as long as six months.
By pairing up our people with theirs, we were able to bring everyone up to the same level of knowledge, meaning everyone could communicate better and faster. The end result was that Monexa met their client’s evolving and immediate needs, fast. They provided increased value, increased revenue and reduced their release cycle from six months to three weeks. The company now has the capacity to proactively seek out new work as well as stay ahead in their industry by getting to market faster.
So who in your organization will help you move to the head of pack?
Contact us to schedule a complimentary strategy session to unlock the next iteration of your business success.
Photo credit: Mario Tome