The term “agile” has been a buzzword and popular topic for years now and while you might be sick of hearing about it, the word is taking on new meanings for many savvy organizations. Agile was first popularized as a method for product and software development, but its principles are being applied more broadly in a business context. The development of agile from a project management method to business principles arose out of the need for organizations to be able to quickly adapt to changes in markets, consumer demands and greater economic forces. This type of agility, which we call Business Agility, allows organizations to thrive in extremely dynamic environments. The crux of Business Agility is the ability to make informed decisions regularly and efficiently. In other words, the decision-making process is agile. But how exactly do you make decision-making more agile?
From Anticipation to Agile Decision-Making
The 3As of Business Agility for Agile Decision-Making
Business Agility consists of three continuously running parts: anticipating changing demands from markets and customers, adapting goals and plans and accelerating execution of work. Agile decision-making happens when organizations adapt their plans and goals, but because the 3As of Business Agility are a continuous feedback cycle, successful agile decision-making also requires effective anticipation and acceleration. When you practice these three skills in your organization, you ensure the continuous delivery of business results in a world of change. These skills are universal, and they don’t require additional resources to start practicing. Organizations can leverage the knowledge and people they already possess to make these skills a regular practice.
Anticipate refers to the ability to identify and foresee demands, requirements, opportunities, threats, and changes. This means identifying changes in technology, shifts in consumer (or internal) demands, and fluctuations in markets that could cause a change to your business in the future. When you anticipate, you use data and insights to identify patterns and then turn those observations into action so you can respond early rather than frantically put out fires later.
The ability to adapt is a cornerstone of agile decision-making. Adaptability is the skill to regularly decide when and how to change course and then efficiently implement those changes. An organization that knows how to adapt will be able to quickly and decisively make changes to projects, priorities, resource allocation, and timing to deliver the best possible business outcomes. Making decisions on these types of changes can be challenging for an organization, but when you’ve effectively anticipated them, you’ll be able to clearly see all available options. This allows you to move forward with confidence.
To accelerate is to move more quickly. To achieve greater speed in execution, many companies focus on increasing the efficiency of work delivery. This certainly is a good idea. But in the context of Business Agility, accelerating is the achievement of business outcomes through more focused execution. You can accelerate the delivery of work by moving obstacles out of the way and creating an environment in which your organization can thrive.
Business Agility is a competency for your entire organization. Agile decision-making is the lever managers can pull to not only contribute to overall agility but ensure they can deliver the results expected of them. To make agile decision-making a reality, you’ll need a framework that provides a practical way for you to gather the relevant information so you can make transparent and informed decisions on a recurring basis.
Using Lean PPM™ for Agile Decision-Making
We developed Lean Project Portfolio Management™ (Lean PPM™) to help organizations make better decisions on priorities, timing and resourcing quickly and efficiently. As an intentionally lean framework, it doesn’t require significant input and instead only requires the minimum information and processes necessary to make the best decisions.
Lean PPM™ has four stages: Strategize, Collect, Decide, and Execute.
- Strategize - Every good project portfolio is aligned to corporate strategy. The focus of the Strategize stage is to create a way for this alignment to be objectively measured against projects. This ensures that all projects in a portfolio are aligned to corporate strategy and aids in determining the priority of projects. The Strategy stage makes it extremely easy for organizations to pivot their project portfolio when they anticipate changes in markets, customer demands, and technologies. Whether changes to the corporate strategy are small or take an entirely new direction, the Strategize stage sets your organization up for success by keeping projects aligned.
- Collect – When you have successfully anticipated changes to your business, you’ll need to create and refine new project initiatives to adapt your project portfolio. This occurs during the Collect stage where new project proposals are created for each initiative including a description and estimates of the benefit and effort required.
- Decide - The Decide stage is where agile decision-making happens. The work conducted in the Strategize and Collect phases come together and provide you with all the data you need to make transparent and sound decisions about the future. The decision-making body in your organization will evaluate new project proposals and select which ones best contribute to the adapted corporate strategy.
- Execute - The Execute stage is where the choices made in the Decide stage are turned into action and it’s the key area where you can accelerate the delivery of your projects. Project managers or team leaders will keep track of their projects and solve any issues or conflicts that arise out of daily execution.
Economies, markets and demands are always in flux. Despite this, you’re still expected to deliver top results. This may feel like aiming for a moving target (because it is), but when you can regularly make decisions both small and large to adjust your activities in response to your environment, hitting the target is much easier. Agile decision-making isn’t just a buzzword or fad. It’s become an absolutely necessary tool in the belt of any organization that wants to seize new opportunities, pivot to avoid costly pitfalls and continue to grow in any situation.
Meisterplan is Your Lean PPM™ Tool for Agile Decision-Making
Lean PPM™ is a framework and to make it come to life, you’ll need a tool. Meisterplan is an intuitive Lean PPM™ tool that not only facilitates agile decision-making but helps organizations practice Business Agility in its entirety. To see how Meisterplan can be used for agile decision-making and Business Agility, watch our free on-demand webinar or contact us today to speak with one of our experts.