An agile company culture means reacting quickly to problems. Issues are treated as learning opportunities and feedback is always welcomed from all parts of the organization. When something needs to be fixed, immediate action is taken; complaining and running issues through narrow designated channels can compound the problem.
Many business owners believe they have agile company that can respond to any market change that comes their way. And while team members within an organization can say they support this in theory, there may be a disconnect between departments as to what this means, how it should be implemented and what the best way is to maximize the benefit to the company.
Developing an agile company culture refines an organization's ability to adjust in any desired direction and execute a logical strategy together. So it's important for a company's leader to make sure the entire company understands what that means. What follows are a few ways to get everyone on the same page with an effective agile company culture.
1. Rally around the mission and values.
Each team member should be able to succinctly repeat the company's mission, why it exists and what each person stands for collectively.
This is actually harder to accomplish than it appears. You can test it by asking five employees these two simple questions: “What is the mission of the company and what does it stand for?"
The variety of the answers may be a surprise. If you get more than one consistent reply, continue to reinforce the mission and values statement until everyone knows and accepts it.
2. Make adaptability part of the culture.
Unfortunately, inertia keeps most organizations going in one direction. An agile company rewards incremental change, not iteratively doing the same thing over and over again to get similar results. This can be difficult for teams to adopt since some find comfort in this repetition.
In an agile culture, focusing on repetition can still be effective but it needs to be done by repeatedly responding to changing market conditions or customer requirements.
3. Accept failure as part of the process.
While agile businesses don't reward failure, they accept it as part of the process. Team members are not penalized for their failure. What they do instead is learn what they can from a specific outcome, let go of the last results and try something new based on what happened in the past.
Instead of using fear to guide their teams, managers should lead with their team's trust. This way, the managers can look for solutions, not fault.
4. Seek to improve even when you're successful.
Most companies work hard to succeed—and they don't want to screw it up when they finally get there. But at this stage, many start to take actions not to lose, rather than to keep winning. Constant improvement is critical to staying on top.
To fight this, agile company cultures make rapid decisions even when they are not in crisis. This does not necessarily mean always making rapid changes, but making the next decision quickly and not delaying as a result of "FOBO" (Fear of Better Option).
5. Be accountable to the customer and to each other.
Team members know why their jobs exist; it is to help the customer and their other team members accomplish the company's mission. (In fact, the customer is part of their team.) It shouldn't matter who or which department gets credit as long as the job is done.
In an agile company culture, team members take their commitments to others very seriously. If they can't make a deadline, they communicate this to their teammates and get help so it can still get done!
Creating an agile company does not typically happen quickly. It takes time for everybody in the company to embrace the new cultural mindset of the “way things get done around here now." Business owners may want to practice patience as the company's culture develops alongside the new strategy.
Read more articles on company culture.