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Driving innovation

Why agile teams drive digital transformation

David Bentley
agile
© Shutterstock / Berk Ozel

A team must be agile if they are to drive such innovation and still be effective and disruptive in a challenging environment. These key attributes will ultimately push organisations towards their digital transformation and long-term goals

Guilty of being one of the most overused phrases in the business world – particularly during the current climate – ‘digital transformation’ can give the impression that it simply covers only one event. However, it is so much more than that.

The term in fact embodies a continual review and roll-out of change – bringing together company culture, technology and processes. It challenges leaders – and their workforces – to embrace diversification together, and radically update their business model to meet ever-evolving end user needs. McKinsey describes truly agile enterprises as ‘organisations as living organisms’, which is perhaps closer to the mark when thinking about the pivotal role which digital transformation plays in an organisation.

SEE ALSO: Beyond DevOps – Holistic transformations in uncertain times

There has never been a greater time to shine a light on true transformation and its benefits than seeing the devastating effect that COVID-19 has had on global health and the worldwide economy. The need to transform, remain agile and to create any kind of ‘new normal’ for customers and employees has never been more pertinent as businesses, family, freedom and health have all been thrown into the air in one fell swoop.

From an organisational perspective, firms have had to react swiftly to embrace a vast amount of unprecedented change, or simply risk being left behind, or unable to operate. And for leaders, it has challenged company models like nothing else that they will have ever experienced in their lifetimes.

And, whilst a primary focus will absolutely centre around their people – both employees and customers – it’s still important to have goals and initiatives in place that maintain business continuity. Having a robust mission that’s flexible and adaptable to economic flux can help enterprises to recover quickly and roll out critical security measures more effectively.

Although progress may be regarded as slower in many cases when embracing a new way of working, being able to plan, reflect and refine a company proposition can provide renewed motivation – and a welcome distraction from the many unknowns that characterise the current climate.

But for all this to occur, a team must be agile if they are to drive such innovation and still be effective and disruptive in a challenging environment. These key attributes will ultimately push organisations towards their digital transformation and long-term goals, even when an entire workforce operates from differing locations.

To understand this even further, it’s important to firstly break down exactly what constitutes as a nimble and alert remote workforce, and how a digital leader can build from the foundations up.

Collaboration

Without communication among colleagues, cooperation can be a non-starter. A digital-first, agile team typically understands the pivotal need to share ideas and opinions – and welcome open, honest dialogue to find the right solutions quickly.

Embracing diversity – which covers a range of beliefs, backgrounds and cultural experiences – also helps to ensure that all aspects of operating a ‘new normal’ are dissected and can greaten the impact and value to an equally varied customer base in the long-term.

Trust

Teams structured in this way must have autonomy, and end-to-end accountability in what they do. Agile structures promote a much flatter hierarchy, so decision-making does not slow down the rate of change and transformation.

To be a successful leader, a key component is often having a high level of trust in employees so that they can feel free and empowered to consistently deliver quality. Being available as a ‘sounding block’ and guiding teams in a clear, concise vision – with regular, effective communication – is essential. Additionally, agility means there is no room for ‘micromanagement’.

Business value

Simply put, an organsation’s customers are pivotal to its entire success story, because they are, of course, the ones who can positively or negatively impact that all-important bottom line.

Leaders here should be able to ask themselves how the business is adding value with the products and services it is offering. And for those able to encourage internal teams to produce creative solutions for end users – and support and deepen crucial relationships which align with an end user’s ever-evolving needs – they should be in a greater, more commercially-savvy, position to roll out digital transformation projects.

In addition, empathy and understanding to challenges – and working on ways to practically solve problems for customers – goes even further when creating tangible value. Enterprises that are unable to tweak their proposition may see their competitors get there first, because powerful partnerships can pave the way for substantial progress to occur.

Flexibility

Agile teams should embrace being multi-disciplined because they will be tasked with wearing many hats in an adaptable landscape. Having a fleet of decisive and deft employees can be indicative of team members that are comfortable with change and understand the need for fluidity through their operating model.

Being able to quickly deliver new ideas and initiatives requires such flexibility throughout any team – and should never be overlooked as a key skill.

Leadership

Finally, delivering a strong and clear strategy – which employees understand and believe in from the outset – plays a pivotal role in becoming a highly successful remote leader in charge of digital transformation. To drive impactful projects, they must also be comfortable to lead by example, provide regular, constructive feedback to the team and communicate decisions that modernise a company’s forward-thinking direction.

SEE ALSO: DevOps and Security – how to build more than another stage into software processes

As businesses continue to evolve and recover from an intensely difficult climate, there will be a constant call for managers to re-evaluate their commercial decisions, realign and pivot their proposition and perhaps reinvigorate their brand values to ensure that outcomes meet both customers’ needs and the overarching strategy.

In addition, speed to market, possessing the right product and outcomes for end users, and empowering a collaborative and innovative team are all essential ingredients for delivering effective digital transformation. It takes commitment to continuously disrupt the marketplace, but for the enterprises able to radically adapt business models – and remain measured and agile – they can underpin their foundations and operate with strength in the new normal.

Author

David Bentley

Outstanding leadership, coupled with intuitive vision and focused strategy, are how David built the business from scratch into a multi-million pound organisation. Passionate about developing strong industry relationships – based on trust and accountability – David also ensures Solutionize Global fosters a similar environment, encouraging ownership and commitment from every single member of the team. With over 20 years of experience in IT, software, channel sales and consultancy, the founder is a ‘go-to’ commentator on key themes including digital transformation, agile working, and cloud and IoT operations.


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