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I heard an interesting story a few weeks ago, about a senior manager having read in a magazine article about Agile Working. They thought, “Nothing wrong with that” and fancied getting the staff to try it.
The week before leaving for a big chunk of annual leave, somewhere exotic hopefully, they declared, “get yourselves Agile, out of the office, make it happen by the time I return”.
As you might guess, it wasn’t a storming success.
Now, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with Agile working, but to make it a success, some planning is essential. There’s more to it than just working from the Italian café that does great flat white’s. Also, its good to think when its best to implement too.
Some of the common drivers around this, that I have encountered, include:
• Introduction of new or emerging technologies. Maybe we can now provide tablets, apps or smartphones to staff, so they can carry out more work, where it actually originates
• Office re-location or refurbishment imminent
• Management structure change. New directors, CEO or senior managers, moving to an organisation, might want culture to change, to improve productivity or motivation.
• Expansions and merger activity
In all of the above, “just get on and do it”, has rarely been practical or effective on its own. It generally needs a mini-project team putting together, consisting of a range of staff. So who should be included? Spookily enough in a project to build a short to medium term digital transformation plan, for a UK housing group, we are currently answering that very question.
Be sure to give this transformation or change management team a useful name, that will help later with joined up communications. ICT & HR need strong representation. The former as they are the engineers to plumb the IT/telephony tech in securely and the latter even more, as working patterns may need to change, even contracts of work if core hours and locations of working may change. HR teams tend to like a move to Agile working, as a modern, flexible work environment, improves prospects of employing interested and high quality staff.
Operations / facilities will also have a lot to bring to the project, as processes may change, office layouts or the need for one or more offices, may change and they will almost certainly be interested in the costs & benefits of a move to Agile working. Can an office environment be planned and made flexible, sizing to fit the new work habits, created by Agile working.
Comms and marketing should also get involved, to keep staff informed about progress to expectations that have been set. If offices, self-service or the wider digital offering are to be re-branded, think about a consistent approach. Once the tech is in, testing starts internally, have these teams engage with customers. This might be to outline that better self-serve offering, or to spread the good news that service will be transformed, by staff doing more for customers in real time.
Finally, have a sponsor from above. The CEO or a key director, putting their weight & gravitas behind the project is key. They may need to reassure staff as to what can be expected and that the appropriate tech and training will be provided, to ensure when you go Agile, all staff have the right tools to do a better job. Also what new policies will look like, when working away from the office, homeworking and aspects such as health & safety, security of data & GDPR implications.
Lastly, going Agile means more of an emphasis on getting work done, rather than where its done. In the past, it was permissible for managers to expect to see ‘bums on seats’, during core hours. Moving to a more ‘trust-based’ model can be one of the hardest transitions to make. Again, leadership for that is best to come from the very top of the organisation.
If you are considering self-service, see you in October, at a new special conference
Related Post: Ensure you actually allocate a realistic amount of time to your transformation project
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Saint Etienne - Mario's Café.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009
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