Events Feb 13, 2016

The event was led by Arnaud Bracchetti from Xebia France

 

When compared to the reactive, innovative startups that are gaining market share within their sectors, large companies are often perceived as heavy hierarchical organisations which are relatively static in terms of their innovation process. This, however, is not unchangeable. Arnaud Bracchetti, an agile coach with Xebia France, came to explain.

Mr Bracchetti was the guest of honour at the Partech Shaker on 9 February, presenting the behavioural changes that companies could adopt in order to increase responsiveness and flexibility, as well as the speed of innovation. He highlighted team autonomy, transparency and direct communication as being key.

These behavioural changes apply to all of the company’s departments (human resources, business services, marketing, purchasing, etc.). To be effective, they need to be part of a real change in the company’s culture – a change which should be propelled by the agile manager.

 

So what is agile management?

First appearing in the early 1990s with the development of NTIC, agile management is intended to limit this contrast between startups and major groups by helping the latter improve their responsiveness and facilitate internal innovation. The principles of agile management thus combine sociological and technological aspects with an industry-based approach that clashes with the fundamentals of Taylorism. Work should no longer be divided up; instead, teams should be given autonomy.

To Mr Bracchetti, ‘the companies that aren’t investing in people are making a mistake’.

One of the keys to the agile transformation of a company is successfully integrating generation Y, as this generation received an education based upon support rather than upon arbitrarily rules. These young adults are often faced with a culture shock upon their arrival in a company where decision-making and independent work are difficult. In order to attract this generation, companies need to re-examine their organisation as well as their management!

So then what’s an agile manager?

The purpose of agile management is essentially to move away from the Taylorism model and relearn how to trust. An agile manager is ‘not there to direct, but rather to enable the team to do its best’. This requires the agile manager having a small ego so as to leave enough room for the team to shine. The company culture must thus evolve so that an emphasis on management positions is no longer detrimental to rewarding career development within operational channels.

In order to achieve his or her goals, an agile manager must work with 4 key pillars:

Trust and delegation, by letting people do things their own way while having a certain degree of tolerance for mistakes. This can be achieved by regular, active listening and by a management approach based on assistance rather than on sanctions. Possibilities to explore in this pillar include problem-solving workshops, clear communication on objectives and key issues, and the implementation of a delegation poker system.

Group and motivation, by waking up the team members’ intrinsic motivation. The manager should obviously know each team member as well as his or her aspirations and any specific problems, so as to create a personalised, individualised management approach. This can take place via formal or informal discussions, or by the use of moving motivators or other ‘gamification’.

Skill: promote flexibility and versatility rather than a ‘hero’ role by managing the distribution of skills within the team. Skill distribution can be optimised by pairing team members up, by training or self-training, or by 360° evaluation, among other approaches.

Communication: The agile manager needs to communicate about many topics, in addition to being transparent. The project and company vision, short- and long-term objectives, team results and company financial information are all important points to share in order to solidify team involvement. This pillar is also achieved by listening to suggestions for improvement and to the problems that team members have encountered.

Eventually, the Agile Manager must also assume obligations relative to business value rather than just to a set scope. As Mr Bracchetti explains, ‘the company culture must be thus changed so that all stakeholders, IT and business together, are committed to producing and accounting for business value, which is defined with the final users’. This strategy of organising the product by value thus lays the foundations for product management.

Effectively, agile management can make it possible for a manager to become a true leader.

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