In a now-famous 2011 Wall Street Journal article titled “Why Software is Eating the World,” Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape Communications and co-author of Mosaic, predicted that market supremacy would eventually belong to tech and innovation companies. Now, in 2020, it seems he was right. Right now, the largest multinationals in the world, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple, are all in the tech sector and are referred to as the big 5.
However, Steve Denning in his 2018 Forbes article “Why Agile is Eating the World,” posits that Andreessen was only half right, saying that:
“It’s not just software that’s eating the world. Firms are learning the hard way that software requires a different way of running the organization to be successful. Firms have to be nimble, adaptable, [and] able to adjust on the fly to meet the shifting whims of a marketplace driven by the customer.”
In other words, the implementation of a more agile mindset in these organizations has played just as big a role in their success as the industry they are in.
How does agility come about?
It’s clear to us that Agility emerged as a response to more traditional and static methods that were previously prevalent. The goal is greater interaction between individuals within the company as well as greater collaboration with clients. In this sense, the foundation of agile management is built on adaptability to customer needs, speed, and flexibility, and by a methodology that’s always results-oriented. It means being light on your feet.
To go back to its origins, we have to go back to the nineties. Traditional management models couldn’t meet the standards of many professionals in the software development industry. They were dissatisfied with a traditional way of working that slowed the process with cumbersome and unnecessary steps. This situation caused several companies to take risks and adopt more effective models that, until then, had yet to be implemented at the company level.
The Agile Manifesto
The success of this methodology in software companies led to it be implemented in other sectors. After its success had become apparent, seventeen software developers met in Snowbird, Utah, and formally compiled this new set of tools that they had used to make their companies more productive and lighter on their feet.
Thus, in 2001 the Agile Manifesto was published. The document addressed the principles and good practices that had worked so well at these companies and created a blueprint for other companies. As a result, tools such as Agile Modeling, Scrum, Crystal Clear, and Extreme Programming would eventually step into the forefront.
What benefits does it give us?
Companies that are committed to Agility can manage their projects in a more flexible, autonomous, and productive way, effectively increasing productivity and reducing costs.
With this methodology, the product is not planned or designed in advance, but rather it evolves according to feedback loops generated throughout the process, i.e. as employees complete tasks and update their superiors. At the end of each sprint (defined period), progress is updated and the process starts all over again. As the client is also regularly receiving news, their feedback can help identify priorities and suggest changes.
The process can be divided into several stages:
- Evaluation of current processes and organizational structure
- Suggestions for improvement and how to streamline the processes
- App design in collaboration with the client
- App implementation
- Reflection and monitoring.
Of all the benefits that organizational agility can bring, a few jump out at us:
- An importance placed on the human element. Employee motivation and engagement in projects translates to higher quality work and, in turn, better results for the company and client.
- Faster delivery. An agile methodology applied to a development team can transform the organization, prioritizing flexibility that can cut down on wasted time.
- Higher product quality. Constant revisions guarantee an openness to change and can eliminate errors.
- An increase in added value. This methodology, as well as greater interaction with the client, allows us to increase the amount of valuable information we take in. This provides added value and can prevent unforeseen circumstances from popping up.
- Greater client satisfaction. Due to a more collaborative communication channel, replete with recurring feedback, the client feels part of the team and can help you deliver the best product possible.