5 Ways Agile Supports Innovation

November 10, 2021 by Stefanini

In today’s competitive landscape, innovation is not a choice – it is a necessity if businesses are going to maintain a competitive edge. Yet, while many modern-day companies focus on being more innovative and achieving an innovative culture, they lack a concrete strategy to reach those goals.

Agile, on the other hand, is all about innovation. After all, the agile mindset is all about moving quickly, efficiently, and adaptably while reducing time to market. So, why aren’t more companies proclaiming themselves agile organizations?

Let’s explore the many ways agile allows businesses to more reliably and sustainably innovate their products, services, operations, and more.

Agile Innovation

According to Darrell Rigby, innovation – in the business sense, at least – is the profitable application of creativity. When companies deploy innovation initiatives, they are trying to accomplish two goals: create enhanced solutions that address important customer problems and develop those solutions in a cost-effective way.

Today, most companies operate in highly dynamic environments. They need to produce new products and services, but also could benefit from adding innovation to functional processes. Businesses that create an environment in which agile thrives discover that teams can produce innovations more quickly in both those categories.

An agile approach is no longer confined to the world of the software company. Broadly speaking, agile can be useful for innovation in the following ways:

1.      Room for failure – rather than shy away from making mistakes, the agile methodology encourages exploration. Ideally, this approach would only lead to brand-new discoveries and solutions. However, with exploration comes potential new failures. Yet, it is only with failure that teams learn something new. Maybe a specific process that they thought would work well turns out to be incredibly inefficient. No matter; agile teams use that failure as an opportunity to quickly solve any problems that arise.

2.      Continuous improvements agile implementations should fit the needs of the business, rather than prescribe processes or practices that don't make sense for the way the business operates. If speed, team autonomy, quality and business outcomes don't happen, then the agile transformation needs to be revisited.

3.      Breaking down silos – in traditional business models, innovation processes are typically slowed due to the fact that members rarely work across departments. Breaking down these barriers opens up the field to ideas from all levels and departments, both inside and outside of an organization.

4.      Working with feedback – a crucial part of the agile methodology is implementing stakeholder feedback throughout the process. Thanks to this access, teams more clearly understand their goals and can make requested changes quickly and with minimal impact to the project.

5.      More empowered employees – in an agile organization, there is space for all ideas and a system in place to implement them. When self-organizing teams have more ownership over their work, this sense of autonomy can encourage more original ideas and innovative processes to make them happen. 

Agile Innovation Teams and Innovation Management

When implemented correctly, agile methodologies have success rates that can positively affect profitability and the competitiveness of a company.

To implement agile innovation, however, the organization should begin by introducing the following cultural elements:

  • Help employees understand agility – Agility does not mean that there is no more oversight; rather, it offers a reliable approach to solving complex problems.
  • Choose the right application areas – Not all departments or areas will benefit from agile methods. Therefore, start with product development, marketing, and strategic planning, to begin developing projects and solutions step-by-step in coordination with clients and partners.
  • Start with pilot projects – Agile pilot projects often empower employees who previously worked with limited independence and decision-making freedom. These satisfied employees then act as ambassadors of the agile innovation culture and use word-of-mouth to help to bring others around to the agile methodology.
  • Allow employees to adapt – Methods like Scrum may be hard for seasoned employees to adapt to. Therefore, allow team members to adapt agile methods over time and develop the new principles they learn to their ideas.
  • Encourage top management to use agile methods – A corporate culture cannot become agile if the top leadership have not bought in. By applying agile methods to project management, strategic development, resource allocation, or coordination within the company, management can fully explore the benefits of agility and tout those benefits to their own teams.
  • Remove barriers – Surveys have found that more than 70 percent of the use of agile methods can result in tensions between agile teams and the rest of the workforce. To combat this pushback, managers need to be clear about priorities, roles, and responsibilities.

Achieve Agile Innovation with Stefanini

In today’s dynamic, rapidly-changing business environment, you need to stay agile.

Our Solution Squads will help you implement methods that drive your business forward. We organize skills, assets, and provide cross-functional collaboration along the process in order to effectively execute an end-to-end digital transformation. Further, our agile teams work effectively in a remote capacity, giving you access to the best talent from around the world.

Work with our Solution Squads to get products to market faster, reduce your product backlog, increase active user engagement, cost effectively deploy skills, and more. We’ve deployed agile squads in almost every industry, including retail, automotive, and finance.

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Our team of experts will examine your processes and use their knowledge to find the technology that meets the unique concerns of any production line.

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Learn about the many ways that an agile methodology can pave the way for business innovation across departments! 

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