Every company I know is trying to do more with less resources and more speed than ever before. To accomplish this, it requires testing many things, failing a good number of times, learning quickly and being able to adopt ideas that work faster.
Agile teams were born within IT departments, but they soon demonstrated that their validity was not restricted to technical and development departments alone. Many others, such as marketing or human resources, can be much more flexible and improve their delivery speed on projects with an agile mindset.
The problem is that, for a long time, agile methodologies have been sold with empty words and few real best practices. Therefore, it is important that we not introduce the methodology as a set of mandatory processes, but as practices that we must incorporate into our culture. Everyone should understand that an agile environment helps improve the independence, trust, and responsibility of each of the employees who work as a team.
That change must happen quite organically. It does not work if we impose it, because, as a matter of fact, hierarchies and impositions are something that agile teams tend to eliminate. That is why, if in a traditional team, managers are responsible for successes and failures, in agile teams that responsibility is diluted and shared equally among all members of the team.
But what if we already have a structure and have not taken that step of transforming the organisation? Can we create these teams while transforming the organisation? In Vodafone, we have started this journey step by step. Firstly, we have selected a team of 25 people from different areas. Their challenge has been to identify the obstacles of the organisation to implement this new working model and the design of the elements that guarantee the success of the following deployment; the key has been that they have designed their proposals using Design Thinking and Lean philosophy.
Next, we have chosen specific projects to test and pilot the new methodologies and the new cultural ecosystem; of course, we have trained the people involved, and we have guaranteed that they have the support of the Scrum Master figure. The conclusions of this phase will be critical to determine how the agile model fits with the rest of the organisation and how we have to adapt and change some current processes. Only in this way, we will ensure a real and viable implementation.
The advantages of this type of teams are numerous; from real-time tracking of the situation of each project, time reduction to create solutions, greater collaboration and harmony between groups, and productive and short meetings.
In the end, agile teams help us to innovate and constantly evolve, without leaving aside the needs of the client but keeping it in the centre. And if we speak specifically in the field of people —our topic of greatest interest— these teams help to develop and empower our employees since we will no longer need the image of a boss who delegates and gives orders, but a team that decides and follow its course to achieve the objectives.