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Five Principles for Leading an Agile Culture

This article was written by Jo Bennett of Gartner. Organizations like Spotify and online retailer Zappos are among the growing …

This article was written by Jo Bennett of Gartner.

Organizations like Spotify and online retailer Zappos are among the growing tide that recognize that to compete in today’s digital age, agile is no longer optional. “Agile culture and behaviors can be a source of competitive advantage,” said Remi Gulzar, research director at Gartner. “That culture requires new organizational and leader behaviors,” he explained.

Agile Behavioral Principles for the Digital Age

The principles underlying agile from a software development perspective appear in the “Agile Manifesto,” published in 2001 by a small group of IT leaders. Is your enterprise ready to adopt an agile culture? Explore these five tenets of agile culture to assess whether your culture, work styles and behavior are a digital enabler or inhibitor in today’s high-speed, ultracompetitive, ingenious digital economy.

People Over Process: Spotify engineers align themselves in overlapping communities focused on objectives (squads), work environment (tribes), skillsets (chapters), and interests (guilds), so they can freely experiment with tools and processes. Zappos, likewise, encourages employees to self-organize.

Dynamics Over Documents: Relying heavily on pre-scripted documentation doesn’t work in a dynamic digital environment. Agile teams need to be configured for speed, working in short iterations – while, of course, frequently referring back to the original objectives and principles.

Collaboration Over Cascading: At Spotify and Zappos, the culture is less about owning and more about sharing. This collaborative mindset provides bountiful benefits to both the enterprise and employees; it leads to better communication, trust, knowledge distribution, and adaptive and shared leadership.

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