The benefits of agility and agile practices can be disappointing at first. Kanban and standup meetings don’t help you take the productivity leap you expected. Instead, your operations improved just enough to keep trying – the productivity improvement is better-than-not-doing-it. Your team’s experience of the new practices is hopefully positive. However, significant benefits come only when you internalize the principles and values behind the agile model and learn to master the tools. Agile methods and agile organization are easy to learn but difficult to master at a high level.

The agility and productivity of an organization increase when you apply, not only simple tools in teamwork and projects, but also agile principles to the structures and management of the organization. Below are seven tips to help you on your path to agility. The first one is essential for everyone and should be confirmed first. Then you can build your own path through different options, depending on the situation.

Seven tips for building an agile organization

1 Check the goal and mission of your organization.

Are they clear? If not, the agile methods alone will not clarify them. You will have to figure them out in and with your organization. A concrete and shared vision is a prerequisite for an agile organization – you must focus on value creation to customers the core of your vision.

2 Flexible structures mean that you choose the way to organize according to the situation.

Sometimes a traditionally managed project works best, sometimes you need an agile project. Agile organizing is a balancing act between permanent and adaptive structures. You will learn this through doing and working through agile practices. Don’t start your path to agility by building new structures.

3 Agile management requires up-to-date information and feedback on progress.

Do your management systems support information sharing? Take a look at the OKR model. Don’t just stick to the OKR model’s way of structuring and describing objectives. Pay attention to the small number of objectives, the level of ambition, and the rhythm of monitoring objectives and keeping them visible in daily work.

4 The agile approach to development is systematic experimentation.

You probably want to make your organization agile because you have to operate in an uncertain and complex environment. In this case, the traditional, planning-based method of development will not work, but you need to systematically move forward through experimentation and learning. When developing your business, embrace the principles and tools of the Lean Startup model.

5 It is important to continuously develop the competence of staff and build supportive management systems.

How do you develop the skills and attitude of your staff in the transition to agility? How do you create opportunities to learn and experiment with agile activities in each person’s own work and teams? Provide the opportunity to experience the tools and principles of agile work in a safe environment, without the stress and fear of failing an important task just because it is suddenly organized in a new way. Try out our simulation-based training workshops to provide the agile experience to your teams.

6 Agile tools and methods combined with engaging dialogue stimulate creativity and ideas.

Once the vision of your organization is clear, the next step on the path to agility may be to guide everyday work through agile practices. Try the Kanban board to guide the work of your team. Hold a weekly team stand-up by the shared Kanban board to practice dialogic meetings on a regular basis. You can then expand your practices toward agile project management and gradually introduce more practices and tools to your team. This way you can experiment and learn the principles of agile working together in practice. Repeating these practices will gradually build agile structures in your organization.

7 Agile organization relies on a coaching leadership approach and self-direction.

This is easy to say, but difficult for many to put into practice. You can reflect on your own and your organization’s management approach by reflecting on your latest leadership situations. How do you support self-direction? When your subordinate asked for advice, did you give a ready-made solution in response? Or did you consider the matter together, maybe by asking questions rather than giving solutions or just making decisions? A coaching leader helps others find solutions without dictating them.

The seven elements of agile organization – the most important is the focus on value creation.

agility benefits

The path to agility is an agile path. It is a path of experimentation and learning – agility is created by acting in agile ways, not just by planning. Every organization has its own steps towards its own vision of agility, and there is no one-size-fits-all map. However, the starting point is the same for everyone – the basic mission of the organization must be clear. Otherwise, moving to agility will not bring benefits.