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Implementing Agile – for Employee Retention, Alignment and Engagement

Picture of Moe Jafari

Written by Moe Jafari

Chief Butterfly


The ability to hire good talent is more vital than ever to enterprise missions, whether you’re running a military service or discovering the next medical breakthrough. Unemployment at 3.6% does not leave much in the waiting room, and what is left may not meet the standards for a successful outcome. On top of that, available candidates have a bevy of new opportunities; a proving ground for a tight market, a well sought-after labor base and deadlines can cripple the enterprise. What can senior leadership do that they haven’t tried? 

Let’s look at Agile/Innovation and the disconnect in business functions. Traditional business processes promote teams heavily reliant on culture and labor engrained in structure. It’s no wonder there is no growth when managers maintain tight deadlines, the “just let me keep doing what I am doing” attitude creates an engine room environment. That team/enterprise suffers not only in terms of mission progress but with time, budget constraints and attracting new candidates. The new labor force has started to swim away from organizations that still follow the engine room mentality versus those that adopt agile practices. 

I am not suggesting agile/innovation for automation’s sake, but I am advocating for automation/agile business functions that keep talent and mission both focused andaligned. Too many enterprise missions rely on single stove-pipe process elements that have been proven to fail, and yet management keeps using them. Why are managers keeping data in spreadsheets, waiting weeks for information queries or multiple scenarios that should take minutes to answer? I don’t accept the excuse that organizations need to keep information separate for security reasons. That’s too simple a response since permissions and restrictions are elementary to any IT system.

When organizations keep data siloed in stove pipped process/workflows, relying on decades-old techniques, managers and staff are mired in a “just get it done” engine-room, and do not have the time, bandwidth or visionto make necessary changes. Perhaps you’ve heard the adage, “Fail to plan; Plan to fail.”? Senior leadership must provide the vision to implement and fund innovation to ensure their teams will execute the mission; to work more effectively and efficiently. You are not required to break every process in order to innovate, but you do need to stop doing things because “that’s how you’ve always done.” Your competition and your next hire are trying something different. Start with a business agile strategy: a “GPS” that allows you to create a visual plan.

Mapping a mission is much like planning a trip: thru points, way points and topography determine the “who, what, where, when and how” of the journey. This is visual automation; know where you are, whatyou want to achieve, howyou are going to achieve it, whereyou will start,whois on board, and how to respond to deterrents. Now the team is pulling in the same direction, united in the mission, and they have the horsepower needed for the work, even when resources and time are strapped. When you start with the end in mind and share information freely, you do more with less and bring back the essential element that everyone craves­--time

Enterprises that implement business agility and efficient work routines have employees that are mission-focused as opposed to data-focused. Innovation and team alignment are now key to fulfillment and engagement with the current and future work force, thus making it easier to attract new talent. Having senior level buy-in provides the support, impetus and visual framework as teams take on their projects and can pivot and redirect in response to change. 

By implementing business agility tools and protocols, an enterprise aligns its mission, employees, strategy and customers. That creates efficiency at every level, and the independence and autonomy that satisfying work provides. Not only does that keep good people working in your enterprise, they become magnets that attract and engage with customers and new candidates. That positively effects your bottom line across the board, improving culture, retention, output and performance. As a leader in your organization, start mapping your business agility plan now!