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Going Agile? Put People Over Processes to Succeed


Nidhi Srivastava
Vice President, Enterprise Intelligent Automation and AI Practice, TCS
6 August 2018

Enterprise-wide agility needs an equal change in people, processes, and tools. However, it turns out that inspiring change in people is a tad more complicated. Experience suggests that changing organizations built in the traditional way need a change at the top first, before it can trickle down to executives below. Unless the leaders quit traditional behaviors, expecting change in the mindset of functional leaders and teams will be futile.

Focus on leaders but don’t forget the team

While it is essential to instill a high level of commitment that reiterates the leadership’s role in building enterprise agility, you need to focus on the leaders and the teams both. It is important to build awareness in the company that the business is changing and to ensure that everyone buys into the idea. Doing so will encourage teams to engage in discussions about why they are moving to agile and the challenges they will confront – all of which will help prepare for the transition.

We take a different view.

To ensure a smooth move to agile, consider hiring experienced teachers who can bring an outside perspective and provide specific guidance to leaders and team members helping them transition from their old style of leadership to new agile practices. This will drive everyone in the organization towards finding collective solutions to making agile work.

Empower teams before investing in technology

Some of the most successful startups, nay, multinational companies in the world thrive because of how well they’ve built an agile culture by empowering their teams to do their best work. Amazon, for example, has adopted strategies such as ‘high quality and high velocity decisions’ and ‘disagree and commit’. In the first, executives are encouraged to recognize and correct poor choices quickly, and in the latter, the CEO supports a team’s decision if the members believe in the choice – even if he doesn’t. Facebook also has similar strategies in place that help the organization practice agile. For example, the company has consciously chosen to build a flat organization and to accept their failure to improve.

Such examples remind us that agile is about people, not processes and technology. While it is beneficial to invest in DevOps and automation, organizational cultures warrant greater attention to make agile your organization’s strong suit. The way teams work together will decide whether they can deliver agile promises. Establishing incentives and rewarding teams instead of individuals are steps in the right direction.

There’s no doubt that agile helps organizations truly shine by innovating quickly. If leaders and team members both are taught to adopt agile, the transition becomes much smoother – and in the end, very rewarding – especially in the marketplace.

About the author(s)
Nidhi Srivastava
Vice President, Enterprise Intelligent Automation and AI Practice, TCS

Nidhi Srivastava is a Vice President at the Enterprise Intelligent Automation and AI Practice of TCS. She has more than 25 years of experience in selling and delivering consulting solutions across the breadth of technology landscape. Nidhi has worked as a trusted advisor to Business Leaders in driving transformation across the Business and IT Landscape. Her service portfolio includes Strategy and Consulting, Intelligent Process Automation, Robotics and Application Services Automation. Nidhi is a member of the International Process Research Consortium with the Carnegie Mellon University.