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Agile work: definition, requirements, tips

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Apparently every self-respecting company writes itself agile working on the flags. It stands for a modern working environment, open approaches and success. However, there is often a lack of a clear understanding of what agile work actually means and how this can work in a company. Just talking about it is not enough in the end and it actually takes agile work to master the challenges that companies and teams have to face. We explain what agile working means, which aspects are in focus and how you can introduce agile working in a team ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Definition: what is agile working?

In the time since the turn of the millennium, the world of work has changed in a way that was previously unimaginable. Huge technical developments, ever faster innovations in all areas and overall a speed that companies were simply not prepared for. The rigid structures, as well as the slow and bureaucratic processes that had just become established in larger companies and corporations, have difficulties keeping up with this pace.

On this occasion, agile work emerges. It describes the way of working that enables companies and teams to become rapid changes adapt, react at short notice and thus work successfully. The first approaches to agile working were developed in software development as early as the early 2000s, but the trend has long since spread to all industries and companies.

At its core, agile work means greater flexibility, the ability to act faster and the willingness to think and work innovatively instead of sticking to outdated processes. To do this you have to bureaucratic hurdles removed to make room for more dynamism.

Agile work is both reactivein order to be able to react quickly and as effectively as possible to changes that occur, as well as proactiveby analyzing possible scenarios and acting with foresight.

Correctly implemented, agile work brings you several advantages:

  • Better results

    Agile work increases the quality of the results, as it can be optimally adapted to the conditions and expectations at any time. The dynamic organization means that every situation can be responded to appropriately. Where slow and sluggish structures come to a standstill, agile work can score with better results.

  • Lower susceptibility

    Developments in the market and within an industry cannot always be estimated in the long term. Companies have to think long-term and minimize risks. Agile work and makes companies less susceptible to large or rapid changes. Instead of failing due to change, agile companies can continue to remain competitive and even benefit when the competition suffers from the changes.

  • Stronger employee loyalty

    Agile working can have very positive effects on employer branding as well as the motivation and loyalty of employees. Every employee is more involved, makes an important contribution and identifies more with the company's values.

Requirements: This is what you need for agile work

Agile work is not easy to organize and companies cannot decide to react more flexibly from now on or to introduce faster processes. In order for agile work to actually work, the necessary prerequisites have to be met.

That means: companies have to rethink the entire organization and structure if they really want to work in an agile manner. The following requirements form the Basis for agile work:

  • Independent work

    Teams and employees can only work in an agile manner if they are given the necessary responsibility. A framework must therefore be created in which all employees can work independently and make decisions. In this way, decisions are made directly in the team instead of having to go the long and bureaucratic path.

  • Extensive communication

    Agile work requires a high level of communication so that everyone is informed about the processes that are relevant to them at all times. This can be done through regular meetings, but ideally communication should be permanent and not limited to specific times during the week. In order to be able to work in an agile manner, everyone involved should always share their own progress, ideas and information transparently for everyone.

  • Clear mission statement

    With all the changes and flexible approaches in agile work, there is a need for a constant that everyone can use for orientation. This should be a clear guiding principle, a vision that is seen as the basis for decisions and as the goal of the project. The mission statement arises from the values ​​and goals with which a company identifies. This should be clearly formulated and communicated to the employees.

  • Orientation towards the customer

    In agile work, the perspective of your own customers must never be left out. Important questions that should be constantly analyzed and answered are therefore: What do our customers want right now? What might you want in the future? It helps if the direct exchange with customers is sought or if they are enabled to bring suggestions, ideas and wishes to the company. These should then be taken into account.

  • Open feedback

    Rapid adjustments are only possible if it is recognized where there are problems and what action is required. An important aspect are so-called feedback loops, in which results and processes are repeatedly criticized and questioned openly but constructively. This should not happen after the end of a project, but rather during processing.

  • Shorter periods

    Overall, the following applies to agile work: Shorten the periods of time in which people think, plan and act. Long-term projects should be broken down into smaller parts and sections that no longer take months, but can be completed in days or at most a few weeks. This automatically enables faster adjustment and greater dynamics.

Tips: This is how agile work can be implemented

The switch to agile work is a special one big challenge. Problems arise again and again, especially at the beginning, the desired successes are still a long time coming and it is difficult to part with old habits.

Still you should no fear have to dedicate themselves to agile work and dare to take the step. Especially in the long run, the benefits outweigh the effort and initial hurdles. The following tips can help you to implement agile work and to implement it in your company:

  • Rethink

    Before agile working can be introduced, the right attitude and therefore a major rethink is required throughout the company. All levels in the company should be ready to embrace the new way of working. Managers have to stand behind the concept themselves and communicate with employees. There is a need for explanation when it comes to the new roles in the company. In addition, employees should be given the necessary security in case they have to get used to the new and more dynamic work.

  • Give more confidence

    Agile working lives from a culture of mutual trust. Managers not only have to hand over tasks, but also large parts of the responsibility to independent and responsible teams and employees. This requires the necessary trust that all employees are able to act in accordance with the company's mission statement and make successful decisions.

  • Use methods of agile working

    There are numerous methods of agile working that are easy to implement, especially at the beginning, and can make it much easier to get used to. These also help to familiarize the staff with agile work and to show the direction in which it should go in the future.

    The best known and most important methods of agile work include:

    In addition, there are numerous other methods that you can use as required to promote agile working. User stories define, for example, the requirements and wishes for one's own product from the perspective of customers or users.

  • Learn from agile working

    As soon as you implement agile work in your company, you can view this as the first agile process and treat it as such. In other words: Check at short intervals whether adjustments need to be made. Get feedback from employees and constantly adapt the implementation. By introducing agile work, you will quickly learn where things are going well and where difficulties arise. You can and should react to this.

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22nd September 2020Author: Nils Warkentin

Nils Warkentin studied business administration at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen. On the career bible, he is devoted to topics related to studies, career entry and everyday office life.

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