COVID-19 caused 7 out of 10 boards of directors to accelerate digital business; This requires changing work habits, and the reality is that people do not change their habits overnight.
Acceleration is not just a technology problem. It requires a thoughtful effort to rethink the ways in which work is done, processes are carried out, and decisions are made, allowing for greater agility and better adaptation to the emerging work culture.
Accelerating digital business means working differently and faster, but people don’t change work-on-demand habits, just like they don’t change eating habits when ordered. The executive managers must frame the change for the employees defining new values or redoubling the existing ones, to later link the behaviors that are expected of them. The mere indication of the values is too vague.
We recommend that managers adopt three default behaviors to be more agile. Each behavior includes three example tricks to get you started.
Table of Contents
- 1 Accelerate decision making
- 2 Simplify work
- 3 Eliminate unnecessary tasks
Accelerate decision making
The keys to accelerating product delivery, governance, and other processes lie in enabling faster decision-making within the organization. The reasons why decisions tend to take too long can be various: avoidance of responsibility, aversion to risk, unclear objectives, poorly defined projected results or lack of information.
The speed of a decision should be determined by how quickly it can be reversed. In other words, the less critical a decision is, the less time it should take to make it. Similarly, if the decision is more important, the longer it should take to make it.
Trick no. 1: Saying “no” is not allowed
Those responsible cannot simply say “this is not going to work.” Instead, they should ask themselves, “How would this work, given the X, Y, or Z rules?” Be sure to restate the refusal with the need for more information, especially for any ideas that are new or unproven.
Trick no. 2: Take responsibility
It only takes one person to approve any decision related to something. Clearly state who you are and when you have the authority to approve the decision.
Trick no. 3: Look for resistance first
Find the person who is most likely to disagree with your decision and ask them to tell you everything that is wrong. Address concerns in advance to make decisions faster.
Processes can exceed the ability to make decisions because they are unnecessarily complex. In reality, the complexity of a work routine is not necessarily directly proportional to its true value.
Most of the time, the simplest is the best, but keeping it simple requires that leaders be vigilant. This means that you have to determine the fastest way to get the job done. Starting with the simplest approach possible can often get a team from point A to point B faster. This is in contrast to starting with the most comprehensive approach. Complexity is not always (or often) synonymous with value.
Trick no. 4: Limit time
Assign a time limit of 24 hours to create a first draft or prototype.
Trick no. 5: Reverse tutoring time
Assign senior executives to junior employees for an hour, and have junior workers show seniors what can be done to simplify work.
Trick no. 6: Memes are welcome
Turn employees into creators of culture. Give an award to the three best memes related to “making work easier.”
Eliminate unnecessary tasks
Too often, the value of work is measured by the output generated rather than the actual output. Focusing on production is really just one way to make people look busy, and being busy doesn’t necessarily mean being productive. Of course, what really matters is the end result.
To make an organization more agile, focus on what the business result really is, rather than how a task is done to achieve it.
Trick no. 7: “Red light, green light”
As if it were the traffic light game, discuss as a team: “When should we show the red light (stop), the green light (start) and the yellow light (continue)?”
Trick no. 8: Delete ideas that don’t have a sponsor
Put the word of business leaders to the test with their commitment to fund your initiative with real money. If there is no sponsorship, stop working on it immediately.
Trick no. 9: Hold a weekly meeting to “break the rules”
Here, the team can put policies aside, override old procedures, encourage people, budget for new ideas, and more. The idea is to stop toxic cultural behaviors, such as negativity and cynicism.
How to start? Adapt existing principles and values for faster and safer decision making.
For each of these three behaviors, managers can implement a number of cultural tricks. It takes a prudent process to bring culture change into the daily lives of employees.