Software Projects Can Help to Unlock Enterprise Agility

In my previous post, I listed some key issues hampering enterprise agility. In the past, I've tried to help resolve those issues and many other problems by coaching and consulting. While that approach is better than nothing, it may not always address the right issues, and it's easy for an organisation to fall back into its old ways.

Netguru Labs offers a more hands-on approach – learning by doing things together. We set up a skunkworks project of sorts, but we run it as a normal project instead of running it outside the usual constraints of the organisation. The project is run with a full startup model and has a robust steering framework for identifying impediments. The found impediments are escalated to the executive sponsor who helps unblock the project, even in cases where this means breaking the normal rules of the organisation. Breaking the rules and the result it brings is always documented.

In the context of one project, breaking normal silos, approval rules or other behaviours of an organisation may not be a massive revolution. However, when the lessons learned and the results of the project are fed back to the executive level, we can start making company-wide changes based on the information and knowledge we have gained. After such a process, it’s easier and easier to draw the right conclusions about the changes to be made.

This approach facilitates the efficient identification of real constraints and impediments for innovation and a faster incremental change. Giving individual projects the permission to break away from the usual constraints will slowly start having an impact on the company culture. It also creates internal cheerleaders for the new ways of working – something that's essential for the successful dissemination of the new practices.

As a side product, successful and valuable software projects will be executed. This approach only works if those projects indeed are successful, so it should be carried out with an experienced team.

While this is not a quick fix or silver bullet, it's a sure way to encourage systematic improvement. Some issues are faster to solve, some, on the other hand, will be very slow and a permanent fix would even require changes in the current labour laws. The world may not be ready for that yet, but hopefully, we will be able to deal with even those issues in the future.

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