Most business management trends start with large businesses and filter down to smaller ones. With Agile we’ve seen quite the opposite. The movement started in small, highly innovative businesses and is now taking center stage in big organisations from large financial institutions to utilities companies, charities and local government.
Why is this? Median age of the workforce has a key part to play here. Simply put, the larger an organisation, the higher the median age of the workforce, and older workers are generally less flexible in their mindset…’We’ve always done it like this.’
Newly formed organisations with more flexible mindsets saw the potential to use Agile to support innovation whilst larger organisations with established processes continued to use traditional methods. The small startups using Agile were fast at developing new products, efficient at testing them and highly responsive to changing customer requirements. This helped them quickly gain a competitive advantage over the ‘biggies’ still operating their cumbersome juggernaut-like processes that are hard to turn around.
As time went on small businesses with devolved autonomy, strong customer focus, an ability to rapidly innovate were able to churn out new product quickly and continuously over the course of days or weeks. Meanwhile, large businesses were left in their role-based silos, focused on internal stakeholders and business goals, unable to make autonomous decisions resulting in slow and often delayed product releases that missed the mark for the customer.
So what is starting to happen now in 2018?
Over the last couple of years large businesses have begun to really grasp hold of the benefits that Agile can bring, looking properly beyond Agile as a software development ‘thing’ and asking important questions about how Agile methodology can benefit their whole business: How can big businesses become essentially groups of individuals who can react and respond like small businesses?
There is a huge prize for getting this right – big business money with small business competitive edge.
The race is on.