Kathleen Atkins, Director, Content Strategy
February 12, 2019

Being agile has been a hot topic for years. Naturally, there’s particular weight in IT due to the popularity of using agile methodologies in software development. However, there’s recently been prominent talk about the popularity of the traditional methodologies fading, even while overall interest in agile thinking is still trending upwards. Thinking on agile is evolving.

Approaching Agile

Agility reminds us of words like nimble, quick, and adaptable. Even though solutions that enable agility can be essential, outside of marketing materials, how often do you see these words are used to describe companies, products or infrastructure? Let’s take office talk as an example. Which sounds most like something your coworker might say?

A. “Rick’s sandbox is adaptable.”

B. “Rick’s testing approach is adaptable.” <— this one!

How does “Rick” do it?

It’s possible to credit his brilliance, attitude and knowledge. It’s also possible he has some great resources that help him achieve this reputation. The point is, when we think about how IT teams can use agile thinking to manage changing demands, we need to consider both the technology and the people using it, as agile thinking can be engrained into IT—even without introducing specific methodologies.

3 Ways People Power Agile Thinking

1. By choosing to focus on customers

When customers are at the forefront of your focus, it changes the way people approach their roles. If employees are asking questions like, "What are the potential consequences for the customer as a result of this?" you'll surface a different set of priorities and solutions. Implementing customer focus can start anywhere in the company.

2. By empowering employees

Employees are the lifeblood of your organization. It's important to find ways to empower employees. Leadership can come from any individual at any level. Rather than sticking to established silos and hierarchies, encourage employees to collaborate within and be empowered to lead across departments.

When it comes to your IT strategy, it’s important to equip—and empower—your team with the technology they need to efficiently and effectively work.

Chasing specific, new skill sets for IT roles can be time consuming. Many types of technologies require unique knowledge to manage. Seek systems that democratize access and management of your infrastructure to free up valuable time and resources that optimize your teams’ expertise.

3. By exuding leadership at every level

It’s often said that leadership starts at the top, but leadership can start anywhere. As a leader of a team or department, introducing an agile mindset can be motivating and empowering. Being agile also doesn’t have to all happen at once. Even if you are planning a formal Agile methodology rollout, BCG explains that agility happens at three levels of increasing size and complexity:

  1. Project level (easiest)
  2. Portfolio level
  3. Organizational level (most difficult)

And whether the methodology or mindset, implementing at a project or portfolio level first can be a great way to show results that help socialize a shift in process or thinking. You'll be able to prove value via measurable impact through things like efficiencies, retention and achieving larger business results.

IT’s Role in an Agile Approach

Today, digital applications and tools penetrate every level of the organization. Business leaders must be ready to introduce emerging technologies in order to shift the old paradigm to include the new realities of today’s business environment.

Technology is mission critical for enabling organizations to achieve their goals. In fact, the average enterprise uses a whopping 1,516 cloud applications, according to Symantec’s 2018 Shadow Data Report. While much of this occurs through departments outside of IT acquiring applications without IT evaluation, IT is also seeking ways to fast track what they need. IDG reports that the number one business goal driving cloud investment is improving the speed of IT service delivery, followed by wanting greater flexibility to react to changing market conditions.

A Foundational Connectivity Infrastructure

According to Linda Holbeche’s book, The Agile Organization: How to Build an Engaged, Innovative and Resilient Business, the communication technologies and flexible work policies integral to agile organizations have essentially been made possible by cloud connectivity.

Where agile can represent a paradigm shift for organizations, advanced connectivity strategies are often the fulcrum that is enabling that shift. When applying agile thinking to cloud connectivity, flexibility is paramount. Infrastructure built on hybrid cloud and multi-cloud strategies can bring an ideal mix of flexible, effective and optimized connectivity.

When IT implements effective connectivity strategies, achievements include:

  • Saved time. Reduction of special skills training through use of systems that are easy to use by IT.
  • Reduced costs. Reduction of costs through more effective management of workloads.
  • More control. Improved visibility and ability to control infrastructure through centralized governance and direct connection into critical applications.
  • Highly secure deployments. Addressing security needs through avoidance of public internet through direct, private connections.

Looking for some tips on how to achieve this? Check out this white paper for 3 steps to help you get the most out of your cloud deployments.

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