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3 Ways to Make Agile Work in the C-Suite

Not just any area of business will benefit from adopting an agile approach. In fact, it takes a lot of analysis and deep understanding of the business to really know where agile will be a home run. However, as Eric Garton and Andy Noble explain in an article for Harvard Business Review, there actually is no danger in having the C-suite itself adopt an agile mindset. Here are three tips for the C-suite to effectively behave with agility:

  1. Treat your enterprise priorities as a managed backlog.
  2. Create small, talent-rich teams working outside the hierarchy to address your most important priorities.
  3. Time-box your work and make extensive use of test-and-learn techniques.

Leading Velocity

Looking at your enterprise priorities in backlog format allows you to shift your mode of thinking. Specifically, you will move away from calendar-based planning and toward continuous issue-based planning. After all, the business can only really focus on delivering a handful of major initiatives at a time—so whatever the top priorities are right now, they should be the ones receiving all the attention.

“Small, talent-rich teams” are given the green light to experiment at many top businesses, like Amazon, Google, and Spotify. Agile management and a lack of bureaucracy allow innovation to happen faster. All executives would benefit from an ace squad to call upon like this.

Lastly, time-boxing encourages faster decision-making and allows strategy to pivot comfortably. The authors elaborate on this:

One key to making decision velocity and time-boxing possible is establishing the right burden of proof before action. We have seen many weaker companies where the greatest sin a manager could commit was not being able to answer every question the executive team asked, even if the answers to these questions would not have changed the decision. According to Bezos, “Most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70 percent of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90 percent, in most cases, you’re probably being slow. Plus, either way, you need to be good at quickly recognizing and correcting bad decisions. If you’re good at course correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure.”

The nimbler the C-suite is, the nimbler the rest of the business can afford to become. You can view the original article here: https://hbr.org/2017/07/how-to-make-agile-work-for-the-c-suite

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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