I bet you all out there know what a crisis is, even some of you might have experienced it in your life and we are all facing a very though one today. A crisis can have some disastrous impacts on our lives, put us at life threatening risks and test our endurance, but it also makes us to change our skills, capacities and resourcefulness to overcome that crisis. Some even can walk away from it better than ever. That’s why Winston Churchill once said that “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” And we agree with him.
Never let a good crisis go to waste. – Winston Churchil
Crises, minor or big, will easily bring us back to life by revealing the true worth of our plans. Luckily, only a handful reach the wingspan of a black swan. Such incidents are extreme and test community as a whole; they have the potential to gauge the fragility or robustness of community. Or better still, compel the exploration of who has a remarkable and precious attribute called anti-fragility.
Fragile, robust, and fragrant. Objects, partnerships, organizations, etc. are fragile because they cannot withstand change; and whenever they do, they are called robust. But what occurs to those who still do improve in the face of a crisis and/or change? As per Nassin Taleb, they are enriched with anti-fragility, a quality that goes further than survival and contains learning and adaptation, in an attempt to be strengthened in situations that normally test us.
Mindset is the Ultimate Response Strategy
Crises are expressed in facts, but they are characterized by the manner in which we view certain facts and decide the narrative of our reaction. Correct analysis should allow us to follow the right approach with the resources we have at our hands. Of course, if we’ve got them and we’re able to start using them.
Developing the right way of thinking is a crucial asset to enable us get out of the crisis. What kind of attitude is best? To begin with, you will be eager to adjust and evolve, help redefine strategies and innovate to find new ideas. The best way of thinking would entail dealing with uncertainty and leaving choices available. You’re going to try simplicity, not complexity. We must know that disasters are complicated, as are the challenges created by a system that is similarly complex. Eventually, this attitude would help one to live with the persistent lack of meaning and the presumption of uncertainty.
The Agile World is a Business Solution
This would appear like the best mindset to withstand a crisis is that of an adventurer. Okay, but you don’t need to be superhuman. Don’t forget the current and tested approaches that benefited organizations in the past. There are other approaches, procedures, strategies and methods under the large umbrella of Agility or Agile. But tools are useless without the right mentality, values, and mindset – this is really the distinguishing aspect in agility.
Agile helps to leave doors available, to be ready and prepared for transition, and to consider transition not as a downside, but as a road of adaptation that we need.
- Risk reduction: simplify things, remove excessive noises, convey optimism and enhance openness to help reduce the loss of knowledge and context.
- Continual improvement: incorporate feedback loops to help us perceive and address the effects of our actions.
- Orientation around value: place value at the center by adding empathy to identify and detect it. Put processes, strategic plans, and anything else that places the opportunity to achieve optimum performance at risk in the background.
- Responsibility and commitment: regularly engage people in the organisation. Offer them flexibility and the power to win their heads, not just their hands.
- Empiricism: support for choices based on objective data, not on desires, opinions or gut feelings.
And above all, find a tendency to generate learning, without fear of failure, if it leads to the growth of our knowledge.
The transformation is not technologies but people. I would be prepared to bet that the Coronavirus has done much more digital transformation than most of the advisors and experts in the world. Transformation is not really the implementation of technologies or instruments, but the training and development of the people who will implement them. Without each other, one is worthless.
Agile Practices to the Rescue
Practices, techniques and approaches are obvious aspects of agility. But how would Agile support us in a time of crisis?
The idea of sprints will create a pace and a cadence that helps to reduce stress and confusion by concentrating about what really counts. Agile methods help reduce uncertainty by dealing with predetermined time periods.
The same advantages come from how we describe the research to be done. Agile approaches seek to reduce disruption by grouping research into fewer, more efficient projects, with less variation and ambiguity. This style of working helps you to retain emphasis rather than dispersing energy without the opportunity to bring it into action.
Agile emphasizes on people and their commitment and hence their development. An Agile Foundation has skilled and knowledgeable teams who share their talents and innovation and are committed to the sharing of confidence. Teams that genuinely follow agile standards, and not just those cosmetic techniques, retain the critical strategic energy required to move forward in moments of crisis.
The objective is to learn by converting the activities of the organisation into data, feedback and new ideas that will have an effect on future actions. Generating, understanding, disseminating and, above all, adapting to this learning is among the primary aspects that separates Agile from several other ways of managing work.
Scrum, Kanban, SAFe, Lean Startup, Nexus, DSDM and most of the other models of Agile are built around learning, which is the only way to address the confusion that is compounded by the crisis.
Agile at the time of the COVID
I’ve always said that agile techniques are just an empty shell, with no proper thinking. Nevertheless, this approach often needs the help of strategies and procedures that enable organizations to balance their full capacity with their reaction to the crisis.
Agility is not magical, but often, when done properly in a challenging situation, it can feel like that. In the face of the emerging complexities of the COVID crisis and the issues that will come, my key advice is to leave options open. This means getting the right mindset, philosophy and structure in place to see change as an asset, to consider different viewpoints, and to have the ability to adapt in a shifting and challenging setting.
Most people believe that “agile” is synonymous with “fast.” Yet ask on what’s more agile: a high-speed train at 190 miles an hour or a scooter at less than 15 miles an hour? When an obstacle unexpectedly emerges in front of you, would you rather be on that train or on the scooter?
Agility is the weapon that helps you to gain the utmost stability while at the same time retaining the power to accelerate. The agility of the organisation is how to maintain speed and keep options on the table.
Let’s go back to the sayings of Churchill: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Crisis isn’t something that we wish or want to happen. Yet, as we’ve all learned already, this is possible. Don’t let this be a big waste; learn something about it.