Enterprises are increasingly turning to new ways to innovate. They are introducing leaner business models and agile development to speed up projects and illustrate their value, but they’re struggling with the process. How can they benefit from the agile methodologies and how to help them with the battle for unblocking their enterprise agility? We talk with Vesa Palmu, the Director of Enterprise Solutions at Netguru.
Why do you think large organisations should go agile?
The facts are brutal: You need to be really fast to stay ahead, or even just to keep up. IDC foresees that every industry will be transformed by the application of mobile, cloud computing and social media technologies. As a result, getting faster, slimmer and less bureaucratic has become a necessity merely for survival – let alone excellence. The smartest leaders of top world companies are already sold on this trend, and the results are staggering. Netflix, the new era TV juggernaut, is run agile. Zalando, the fastest growing company in Europe ever, preaches radical agility, their own version of company wide agility.
What’s the level of agile methodology adoption within the large organisations in your opinion?
The future is here, it’s just not at all evenly distributed. Principles underpinning agile are still not widely adopted in large organisations. Not even after they’ve been proven over and over again to produce better results for innovation and complex projects. This leads to clear tension between agile software teams and the rest of the organisation. Even worse this blocks many organisations from innovating and changing much faster than they do today.
So what’s blocking agility?
Large organisations focus too often to just preserve and optimise what they already have. This leads to avoiding failure at all costs, which in turn leads into not taking risks. Agile by its very nature requires you to accept the fact that you can’t plan for everything or even know all relevant factors in a project.
How can large organisations benefit from the adoption of agile methodologies?
This approach enables efficiently identifying real constraints and impediments for innovation and faster change one by one. Giving individual projects the permission to break from normal constraints will slowly start having an impact on the company culture. It also creates internal cheerleaders for new ways of working, something that’s essential for successfully spreading the new practises.
Is there a way to introduce such an approach to a company without completely changing the way it operates?
Organisational agility is more about culture and constructs than technology. This doesn’t mean changing the way an organisation is set up completely, but it does mean a change in the culture, processes and reduction of bureaucracy in general. These changes spread slowly throughout the organisation, in some parts they only have a minor impact, in some a big one. This really all depends on the organisation, its operations and how things are done today.
Vesa Palmu’s background includes digital entrepreneurship, university studies in computer sciences, an executive MBA, and 10 years spent helping large organisations in agile adoption. His previous company, Wunder, a service provider for Drupal CMS, grew from zero to 180 people in six years. He’s gone through an IPO with Satama, a digital consultancy he co-founded. Today, Palmu’s ambition at Netguru Labs is to help large organisations to adopt the startup approach for business development.