Success in today’s dynamic business landscape requires an equally dynamic model of teamwork: agile networks of teams. Members of agile networks work in multiple teams which form and dissolve as necessary to best apply their unique skill sets and knowledge bases to benefits their organization. Agile teams form based on merit: team members are selected throughout the organization due to expertise, not formalized position. By reducing hierarchical limitations, agile networks of teams promote the free flow of information, ideas, and best practices. Industry leaders such as Google, Netflix, and Spotify are transitioning towards agile networks, and many others are following. The reasoning is simple: agile networks of teams, if properly implemented, yield tremendous organizational benefits.
Agile networks of teams achieve the goal of traditional teams: attaining excellence by holistically synthesizing individual talents, creating a cohesive, well-rounded unit. However, unlike rigid traditional teams, agile networks form on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, agile networks assemble teams with greater speed and flexibility than ever before. Agile networks of teams optimally allocate the respective organization’s talent pool: employees work on projects on which they will have the greatest positive impact. Because agile networks quickly assemble optimized teams, they allow organizations to solve complex problems with unparalleled efficiency and effectiveness.
Due to their flexibility, agile networks of teams also allow organizations to strengthen relationships with customers and vendors. Organizations historically viewed customers and vendors as external parties, despite the absolute necessity of their satisfaction. Much of the feedback non-agile companies integrate from these parties is reactive, potentially after relationships have soured or sales declined. Agile networks of teams encourage proactivity, allowing all relevant parties, regardless of position, to optimize a final product or solution. Incorporating these formerly external groups increases and improves communication, translating into increased customer and vendor satisfaction. Organizations, vendors, and customers alike benefit from agile networks of teams because each have their viewpoints factored into organizational decision making.
Agile networks break down silos and remove limitations imposed by traditional structures. They cut through bureaucratic clutter in the pursuit of organizational excellence. If your team needs an expert on a particular subject, your talent pool is not limited by department or hierarchical level. Agile networks provide the freedom to position employees where they will have the greatest positive impact. Agile networks encourage creativity and facilitate collaboration. They empower employees, increasing engagement and improving organizational performance.
Though agile networks of teams yield tremendous benefits, they also present a unique set of leadership challenges due to their complexity and dynamic nature.
Effectively monitoring and supporting direct reports can be difficult. For example, how do leaders concisely receive and incorporate feedback regarding their employees when employees interact with multiple teams? Managers require feedback from multiple teams to gain holistic pictures of employees’ performance. Furthermore, how do leaders ensure direct reports receive and apply relevant real-time feedback when their goals frequently change? Relevancy is crucial: feedback loses much of its organizational value if does not spur development related to key business drivers. Diligence is required by leadership to address direct reports’ personal developmental needs while also ensuring the overall success of their multiple teams.
The 2017 McKinsey Quarterly article, “ING’s Agile Transformation” details both the challenges and benefits experienced by banking group ING when the company transitioned to an agile organizational model. ING reported improved agility, “improved time to market, boosted employee engagement, and increased productivity.” However, the company also noted the “enormous amount of energy and leadership” needed to develop an agile culture. The bank stresses consistent attentiveness to ensure, “teams are aligned and mindful of the company’s strategic priorities” as goals and teams evolve. Ultimately, creating and sustaining successful agile networks generates tremendous success but requires diligence and focus from employees, particularly leaders.
Traditional hierarchical structures, while outdated and frequently stifling, historically addressed many of these leadership challenges. Today’s leaders require a quicker, more actionable solution remains focused on key business goals, even as they evolve, to maximize agile success.
Agile technology optimizes agile teams
Our real-time feedback app, DevelapMe, enables leaders to effectively lead employees who are frequently away participating on other agile teams. DevelapMe is a real-time feedback tool that identifies key business drivers to provide focused feedback on goals that can be adjusted based on the needs of the organization. DevelapMe helps cultivate and empower the well-rounded “digital leaders” described in Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report. Digital leaders are crucial for success in today’s rapidly changing, increasingly interconnected business landscape. DevelapMe allows organizations to develop these digital leaders and empower them to maximize their success within agile networks.
DevelapMe’s goals feature provides the flexibility and fluidity necessary for the success of agile networks of teams. Multiple goals can be set for multiple teams. Therefore, the goals feature allows teams to individually isolate their key business drivers and provide relevant feedback. The goals feature ensures feedback remains focused on key metrics as they evolve based on the needs of the team. DevelapMe promotes fluid goals that can be established and modified as necessary. These fluid goals ensure goals can be easily changed to ensure employees receive relevant feedback despite the frequently changing nature of their work.
Agile networks of teams increase the complexity of organizational feedback flow. If feedback cannot be quickly compiled for high-level oversights, individually scrutinized for personalized development, and intuitively analyzed for leadership and performance trends, progress will be lost amongst communication clutter. Thankfully, DevelapMe makes it easy for leaders to request feedback from others regarding direct reports (as well as themselves). Leaders can also see if their reports are receiving and requesting feedback. DevelapMe facilitates and documents the exchange of organizational feedback, linking feedback with results.
DevelapMe utilizes artificial intelligence to develop personal learning for specific development required to support agile networks of teams. Advanced people analytics ensure impactful feedback is delivered across a complex network of agile teams in a focused manner. DevelapMe’s Virtual Coach, Athena, ensures employees have constant support and provides oversight to optimize the organizational feedback process. DevelapMe allows leaders to overcome the challenges posed by agile networks of teams and maximize the tremendous performance benefits they create.
Communication, transparency, and accountability are crucial for a team’s success. You may have assembled a group of talented individuals, but they will not develop into an flourishing team unless leadership provides consistent support despite the fluctuation of goals and group members. We at DevelapMe work diligently to support the fluid exchange of ideas and processes across interwoven teams. Want to help your team maximize and achieve its potential while proactively positioning it to excel in the rapidly evolving business landscape? Our team can help.