What you'll find below are some of the best articles on agile that were shared in the CTOdaily newsletter in 2018.
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Great piece from McKinsey on navigating in a world of increasing digital disruption. "You can’t steer your company through constant change if you are relying on the safety of your own cruise control. To spot opportunities—and threats—in this environment, we must teach ourselves how to have a more comfortable and creative relationship with uncertainty. That means learning how to relax at the edge of uncertainty, paying attention to subtle clues both in our environment and in how we experience the moment that may inform unconventional action." Here are some helpful ways act to in uncertain time. Pause to move faster. Embrace your ignorance. Radically reframe the questions. Set direction, not destination. Test your solutions—and yourself. Check out the article to read about these in more detail!
This piece is an in-depth look at how to transition to agile at scale. "Agile teams are best suited to innovation—that is, the profitable application of creativity to improve products and services, processes, or business models. They are small and multidisciplinary. Confronted with a large, complex problem, they break it into modules, develop solutions to each component through rapid prototyping and tight feedback loops, and integrate the solutions into a coherent whole. They place more value on adapting to change than on sticking to a plan, and they hold themselves accountable for outcomes (such as growth, profitability, and customer loyalty), not outputs (such as lines of code or number of new products)." When implemented correctly, Agile teams "almost always result in higher team productivity and morale, faster time to market, better quality, and lower risk than traditional approaches can achieve." But how can large companies take advantage of this nimble methodology and effectively implement it? I highly recommend checking out the piece — there's a lot of value within it.
Digital technologies are slowly pervading and changing all aspects of business, the umbrella term for which is 'digital transformation'. The authors of the linked piece above observed a number of ways companies are using people analytics to understand and drive their transformation efforts. The key takeaway from the piece is this: employ scientific methodology where possible to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of change efforts. While data is paramount to thriving in our increasingly digitised world, "it's important to remember that this doesn’t just mean having more data or better charts. It’s about mastering the organizational muscle of using data to make better decisions; to hypothesize, experiment, measure and adapt. It’s not easy.
Do you travel for work? How necessary is that travel? Research emerging on the health risks of traveling might make you choose a video-call over a flight for your next business trip. A study by a large multinational coporation found that international business travel was associated with "higher alcohol consumption, lower confidence in keeping up with the pace of work, and lower perceived flexibility in fulfilling commitments."A World Bank study found that almost 75% of the staff reported high or very high stress related to business travel. Stress aside, disruptions to your circadian rhythm, your body's natural 24-hour cycle, are definitely worth avoiding if possible as well, according to sleep researcher Dr Matthew Walker. The scientific case for getting a good night's sleep keeps on building. Rest up!
Some of the best insights come from the combining and applying of ideas from a variety of different fields to a new problem. This tends to be the area of the generalist -- the jack of all trades, but master of none. Having a few generalists around is a sure-fire way of increasing the creative output of a team. However, they do have their pitfalls, as some studies have shown (see article link). That being said, it's not like specialists aren't capable of creative ideation. Some research has shown that specialists are adept at spotting and seizing and emerging opportunity which is most likely due to their deeper and more nuanced understanding of subject matter. The authors of this piece found in some of their research into generalism vs specialism that "generalists appear to be relatively successful as long as the pace of change is not too rapid, but their productivity decreases when the pace of change increases. At the same time, specialists appear to perform better when the pace of change accelerates." So, one thing to take into account when building creative teams is the pace of change in the environment.
Much of the work that we do takes place in the digital realm. There are nearly always times when we need to work with people virtually. One doesn't need to be in a different location to work with a coworker remotely; much of the interactions within our own offices are virtual. Emails and messaging apps are standard in most 21st century businesses. However, it's not obvious what the best practices are, around the use of these technologies. The authors of this piece have highlighted specific areas where it's important to set out rules for engagement (when, how and and why should communication take place) and how to build and maintain trust when using these mediums. Some other bits of advice for computer mediated communication include: don't be a robot (show a bit of personality), take initiative in completing tasks whenever possible and communicate that you’re doing so with periodic update e-mails, and respond to communication quickly and appropriately.