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Everything Small for Big Results: Agility Core

A key tenant to business agility is "everything small." This article explores areas of focus on the "small" to produce big business results.

Stephen Denning nailed the essence of Business Agility in his keynote address at the 2017 Business Agility Conference in New York City.  I attended this year’s event in March, and while the success stories of companies becoming agile continue to grow at a rapid pace, it’s thought leaders like Mr. Denning to thank for the wisdom and clarity they bring to making the “mindset” of agility digestible and actionable.

At CORAS, we believe in the power and necessity of an agile mindset, and as a software company, we focus on how to translate that mindset into action. Our goal is to help organizations deliver more value and efficiency while staying competitive and relevant. 

A key tenant in Business Agility is “everything small” (working in teams), as Mr. Denning put it, within the context of the “large” (entire organization). At CORAS, we embrace that approach and work small every day. In addition, we enable the large and small to co-exist, embracing the reality of organizational “hierarchy” when it comes to leadership direction and management. However, that traditional hierarchy at times must be flattened in order to empower small, autonomous teams to deliver with the speed and innovation necessary to innovate and successfully deliver and compete in business.

Break things down into small

Business agility is inherently fast and facile.  At the heart of the CORAS solution is the ability to quickly and easily capture work items, whether they are related to projects, campaigns, initiatives, or ideas, and then break them down into small manageable items.

As items are captured, the simple drag-and-drop organization on a visual work canvas makes it simple to bring order and structure within the highly flexible system – so you can quickly and easily adapt and adjust to change.  Our secret sauce is the ability to break those items down, as much as needed (as many levels needed), into the small, actionable items that can be assigned across the team for faster delivery.

Small cross-functional teams

The power of teams is nothing new, and they far outproduce siloed individuals.  However, you also don’t want teams to be siloed within a single functional area; which is a common team approach today.  You need to draw from the perspectives, skills, and knowledge of team members across functions. 

Small, cross-functional teams can be quickly created, and individuals assigned work, with CORAS’ rapid-assign option.   Individuals have the clarity and focus on work, each with an independent “My Views,” and action items to closure via the drag-and-drop CORAS boards.   

As of this blog, within CORAS we are running a marketing initiative with team members from Sales, Product Management, and Marketing using a variation of SCRUM, including 15-minute team stand-ups in the morning and afternoon.  We’re not bogged down by methodology, rather we are freed through the focus and communication to effectively execute, adjust, and innovate as needed.

 Mind-map to the small

The same visibility, transparency, and focus that makes teams operate more efficiently are needed across the organization.  The CORAS map provides a familiar mind-map visualization that allows users at all levels, from Executives to Team Members to see and quickly access work across teams. 

The map, along with the lanes, groups of groups (portfolios), and reporting are what allows the small (the work items and teams) to co-exist in the large; the organizational perspective driving strategic initiatives and objectives.

Small reporting widgets for big results

Reporting is often perceived as complex and unwieldy, and mostly for managers and executives.  Team-level reports are made easy with CORAS, as they’re simply added from a gallery of prebuilt report widgets to provide the at-a-glance view into work that team members need. 

What’s unique and powerful about the reports is how they adjust to reflect the level of grouping of work as you get more granular, moving down the breakdown structure of work, or up as you move to the top-level (project, initiative, campaign, etc.).  Where leadership and managers often struggle with business agility is the accessibility and visibility of work and the progress of autonomous teams; concerns that are allayed using the CORAS map and reports functions.

Think big, practice small

In order to get business agility big results, you need to think and act small - with CORAS, business agility is reality.


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