Organisations today face disruptive innovators, a lack of predictability, growing complexity and rapidly changing customer needs. This has focused incumbents’ attention on effectively getting technology in place to keep pace.
And that’s given rise to organisational agility – a way of working that reduces time to market, enables rapid response to customer feedback and drives innovation. In fact, our research on organisational agility found the top 10 per cent of financial performers were 30 per cent more likely to show Agile characteristics.
So, it’s no surprise Agile skills are in high demand. But what is Agile, why does agility matter, and how can you start a career in Agile?
What is Agile?
Agile was born as a software development methodology, aimed at releasing software and delivering value to customer incrementally. As a methodology, it emphasises team autonomy, collaboration with customers, an experimental mindset and fast, small releases.
This means Agile teams can respond well to uncertainty and quickly pivot when unexpected circumstances arise. For this reason, Agile practices, behaviours, mindset and culture have started to spread beyond software development, creating organisational agility.
How can Agile help build a positive human future?
Technology has the potential to answer many of the world’s toughest challenges, but it takes human ingenuity to unleash it. And that’s where Agile skills come in.
For instance, as COVID-19 gripped the world, the Agile concept of fast-turnaround was key to saving lives. Local authorities across the UK, for example, suddenly needed to support thousands of vulnerable people who central government asked to ‘shield’. These people were advised not to go outside for 12 weeks, meaning they had to rely on others for essentials like food and medicine.
To manage this sudden demand, we partnered with Amazon Web Services to develop and deliver a unique Wellbeing Automated Call Service within a week. Putting the automated system in place was much faster and more cost effective than standing up a fully staffed call centre, and it ensured councils could quickly prioritise people with immediate needs. This was only possible because of the Agile expertise of PA people.
This is just one life-saving example. Agile is transforming various industries by enabling organisations to react fast and build a positive human future in the face of constant change.
How can you become a woman in Agile?
With agility being such a broad discipline, and with a lot of literature behind it, it can be difficult to know where to start. So, start by asking yourself where you want to add value within an organisation:
- If you’re excited about coding and experimenting with extreme programming techniques, and passionate about delivering value incrementally, then you should consider becoming an Agile developer – the core of agility.
- If you’re technically astute, but also a people person who thrives when helping teams embrace more efficient ways of working, then you should consider becoming a scrum master – the enabler of agility.
- If thinking about ingenious products, inventions and start-ups is what keeps you up at night, then you should consider a career as a product manager – the value-maximiser of agility.
Of course, there are many more options and opportunities at all levels of an organisation. So, based on your preferences above, think about Agile and Agile-related qualifications. While they’ll never replace experience, they can be a good place to start:
- Scrum: although you shouldn’t equate Scrum with Agile, learning about it can help you better understand how teams can deliver incremental value and some of the terminology and roles you’ll encounter on your Agile journey.
- SAFE: if you’re interested in how to scale Agile principles beyond software development, check out SAFe. It’s not the answer to all your questions, and it’s only a framework, but it can be useful to stimulate your thinking on how to apply Agile principles outside of technology delivery.
Last, don’t fear getting your hands dirty. You don’t have to be an Agile expert to start trying out what you’ve researched and making a positive impact on teams. Experiment, measure, get feedback and pivot as needed.
Now the ideal time to embark on a career in Agile, so take a look at our vacancies.