3 tips for more agility in the workplace

Successful integration and practice of agile methods  

New Work Apr 15, 2024

Change is a main characteristic of modern workplaces. Globalization, digitalization, and other global megatrends guide us through constant change at an accelerated speed. Agility plays a key role here to ensure long-term success. When employees and organizations embrace new opportunities, this can have a positive impact on competitiveness. 

Based on flexibility, transparency and continuous learning, agile methods prove to be an effective strategy to keep up with the constantly changing demands and needs of work life. The key to agile processes is working in short time intervals. By defining specific steps and achieving them within a fixed time period, the results and findings achieved can be integrated directly into the planning of the following steps – the so-called iterations. This could prove to be a more effective approach in the long run, especially in comparison to working in long interval periods, as it directly highlights if a strategy is in need of refinement. 

Moreover, structured communication processes, such as regular meetings and constructive feedback loops, aid in developing a steady and dynamic exchange within a team. As a result, agile practices create an open, trusting environment and therefore encourage feelings of psychological safety in a team. Openly discussing progress, ideas, or difficulties, and recognizing mistakes as part of the process generally lead to more innovation and willingness to take risks. Overall, these methods can contribute to a positive working atmosphere and an increase in the general happiness of a team.

Thus, agile methods, and their integration, are a vital element in our culture of innovation at Henkel. Employees have the opportunity to work with agile coaches, who help with team building and resilience. In addition to this, employees also have access to a variety of tools and information via internal networks. Here, they can engage in virtual conversations with colleagues and exchange different experiences. One of our experts in this field is Julia Kalder, Manager Agile Organizational Development at Henkel. She offers valuable insights regarding how one can successfully implement agility within a team and general everyday work. 

Tip #1: Incorporate agile practices step-by-step

A man standing by a window and writing on a tablet.

In order to integrate agility in the workplace, it makes sense to start with minor, but effective changes and practices. This can include focusing on frequent feedback loops, iterative work, and self-organization. Feedback loops with team members as well as customers ensure that the work completed results in the desired benefit and is prioritized accordingly. This guarantees that all efforts are focused on delivering specific added value. This can increase the satisfaction of the collaboration. Working in short iterations, ranging from one to four weeks, gives team members the opportunity to react to feedback more flexibly. Short iterations also enable fast and effective adaption to any potential changes.

Tip #2: Strengthen your own team

A group of people sitting at a table during an outdoor meeting.

To create a solid base for agile projects, it is essential to discuss overarching team visions, values and goals. Personal responsibility is a core element here: If team members have the freedom to tackle tasks in their own preferred ways and can make suggestions for improvement, this offers more space for creativity and innovation. Shorter planning intervals lead to faster results, which can then result in higher motivation and engagement. This way, successes can be celebrated more frequently and each team member’s contribution towards the project becomes visible.

Tip #3: Learn from and with professionals

A woman smiling at the people sitting opposite her during a meeting.

Should a team have trouble integrating agile methods into their routines, it can seek insight from an agile coach. This also applies if a team should want to develop integrated methods even further. Not only do these experts have a vast knowledge and a lot of experience on the topic of agility, but they also provide an outsider's perspective. This can help identify certain challenges and create suitable and custom solutions which can be applied with the coaches’ support.

Related Feature