All those involved bear their cross written on their forehead when implementing agility. With a little attention, you quickly can see where the boundary is. We already looked at it from the outside (see Nagile clues). However, even with the best conditions you won’t get agility to full swing, if employees remain in their comfort zone. It is the attitude, the convictions, the values and expectations, in short our mindset, that controls our behavior subconsciously. I think, therefore I am – the way, I imagine it.
When looking rationally in the mirror, we do not notice our demarcation line. On the contrary. Our thinking thinks itself reasonable, whereby we do not recognize our manner. The look at the nagile mindset of the others is easy for us. What are we looking at?
Questions prior to the step The difficulty for nagilists is to get moving, i.e. just starting and doing, what we understood. Exposing oneself to the unlikely risk of misunderstanding everything. And not putting the energy into asking, what exactly should be done.
Agility requires quantum jumpers, who start from a standing position without immediately knowing, what will happen afterwards or what should come.
Helplessness at the first hurdle An additional version of nagility is the active nagilists, who start immediately out of the conviction to be agile, but get stuck at the first hurdle. The obstacle unsettles, because one is taking a risk – maybe because one is not used to leap over it, or because it is high, or because one cannot even estimate the height. The search for a way around the obstacle, or for the team that can help getting across starts right away.
Agility needs adventurous, autonomous team players, who begin as a start to help themselves.
Hard as nails in the depiction and banal in the matter The work, of course, does not only consist of hurdles. Most of the time you can run your business without any surprises. In your usual role, you know how to plan the next steps, set your own goals, where you get your inputs from and how to achieve the desired result. The nagilists can be seen at the latest, when they evaluate the fruits of a piece of labor. They value the form rather than the content – the right format, the right font, enough white space and beautiful pictures.
Agility requires verbally and visually talented communicators, who reinforce their content with the appropriate form – and not vice versa.
Lack of creative drive Intrinsic motivation is the fuel that keeps individuals going. Supported by the team that keeps its momentum with its own drive, one overcomes lows. Nagilists lack the necessary creative drive to become imaginatively productive from within. They prefer to work the stack from left to right – which is also a useful feature, except for agility.
Agility needs entrepreneurial thinking doers who want to change the world, or at least to contribute their part.
Work to specification It is not a matter of the work to rule, but about the processing of a well-defined assignment, which best explains what the result should be. If the description is incomplete, you get stuck at the first difficulty (see above). The nagilist is motivated and fully committed to the tasks, just to do what is requested.
Agility needs the exact contrary – performance beyond the assignment, outside the comfort zone and always in competition with oneself.
Self-effectiveness instead of task effectiveness The right thing to do is important to everyone. Nobody wants to do something that nobody really needs. And the result should be generated with as little energy consumption as possible. Sounds good to me. Nagilists also work like this. However, the right thing means in this case to concentrate on the things that are important for oneself and to avoid everything else as much as possible. The remaining tasks should be carried out in such a way that they do not jeopardize private intentions.
Agility requires concentration on the team and its results. What is more important is the need of the team and the only thing that shouldn’t be compromised is the overall result of the working group.
Simply no new things Learning is a task that is delegated to schools, colleges and corporate universities. This is less a matter of anchoring experience and knowledge sustainably, but only of gamification – collecting points to be in a better starting position in the next lap than the others. Nagilists lose their curiosity and thirst for knowledge as they start their professional career. Their knowledge decays according to its half-life (e.g. in IT, knowledge is worth only half its value after two years).
Agility needs hunger for learning and interest, since the open tasks require independent research and integration of the new perspectives.
Bottom line: To make it immediately clear: Nagilist is NOT a dirty word, but the description of a certain type of attitude. Not everybody has to be an Alexander von Humboldt, who plunges into the unknown and risks everything to satisfy its thirst for knowledge. However, the decision makers should be aware that the workforces consist to a certain extent of nagilists – who first ask themselves „Is it really necessary?“; who call a team meeting, when they encounter the first problem; who always look good, but do not provide any content; who don’t want to create anything; who do excellently what they are told, nothing else; who perfect themselves and their lives and not their tasks; who ate up their learning potential during their education.
Agility needs the right basic conditions, but above all the right employee mindset.
When people and their collaboration become more important and results count increasingly and customers are tighter involved and the flexible reaction to changes determines the work, then we speak of agility. Everything is about the involved parties and, above all, the working group who takes self-determined care of tasks, which can neither be extrapolated from the past into the future nor pragmatically predicted in advance. A look at the Agilemma has shown that the new conditions are pulling the nerves of the managers – although they have the key to successful actions – the alpha and omega of agility.
It’s all about activating employees. For this reason, managers in an agile environment, actually not just there, need to consider the following points.
Micro management Once the boss is the best employee, it will be difficult. Micromanagers are busy taking care of the smallest details and reworking all the results of the employees. Managers who cannot let go are a serious obstacle as soon as employees are expected to act independently. The autonomy of the agile teams is unimpeachable.
Options In order to obtain viable solutions, the working groups need various options for action. On the one hand, the requirements determine the choices. On the other hand, the solutions need sufficient means for implementation. The provision of resources is one of the most fundamental tasks of a manager. The responsibility of the team is the best regulator against extravagance.
Transparency To be effective, actors need as much information as possible about stakeholders, the environment, the capabilities of participants and the beliefs that drive all. The decision-makers do not have to provide the figures, data and facts, but do have to provide sufficient opportunities to become adequately informed. Borderless data flow is an important prerequisite for agile work.
Impetus The inner drive of the team members is the fuel, which keeps the zest in the iterations of the project. Everything that hinders the momentum belongs to the alpha and omega of agility. The managers have the task to do everything they can to ensure that stronger performance is achieved and that everybody deals better with failures Capable bosses master the art of awakening intrinsic motivation.
Variety Complex tasks can only be implemented with even more complex means. For this reason, a wide range of characters, solutions and activities is indispensable. To ensure that diversity is not disturbed, all forms of nepotism must be avoided, since this generates envy and resentment, which ultimately results in poorer performance. Anything that increases diversity is indispensable.
Aim In the absence of clear objectives, the rough direction and the emotionally charged target horizon are the most efficacious description of the intention of the decision makers. If the undertakings of the bosses are based on the available resources and offers the team a loose network of people, and if additionally it becomes possible to draw ideas from coincidences and mistakes, and the efforts are limited to what one is prepared to lose, than the intention has good chances to deliver results. The coherent aim is the fuzzy vision.
Team Internal and external interdisciplinary partnerships are essential for an effective team. Given the different origins of those involved, it is essential to create an encouraging sense of belonging. Decision-makers must ensure that appropriate team-building activities are carried out. Here applies – Together Everyone Achieves More
Individuals The team hopefully consists of various characters that complement each other. Each team member should have a strong self-confidence and assertiveness in order to enrich the team in its capacity. The decision makers should resist the impulse to recruit teams from their old boy network, as this only causes discomfort in the team. The team is more than the sum of the members.
Orientation Independent of the agile approach applied, the decision-makers must in particular ensure that there are clear target visions by which the employees recognize the direction. In the absence of reliable foresight, it is not a matter of tough specifications, but of awakening yearnings. The team needs the fuzzy vision in order to have orientation.
Need The advantages arise on the way to the goal, which develops only in the course of the iterations. In contrast to classic projects, which create in advance an elaborate business case that promises great benefits in order to get the budget to start, in an agile environment small steps create small increments that can only be evaluated at the end. Take care of the pence and the pounds will take care of themselves.
Bottom line: For a long time, „classical“ organizations with business processes and projects have given their business the finishing touches. After years, this has led today to insufficient capacities being available for the next round of transformation, the Digitization. Therefore they want to use agile work styles. For many managers, this creates the Agilemma. Besides the required mindset it is necessary to master the alpha and omega of agility – the MOTIVATION of the employees in the agile teams.
P.S .: It takes a lot of time and energy to gain the trust of the parties concerned, but only a blink of an eye to destroy everything with a disrespectful, degrading and unfair leadership style.