If we analyse the state and trend of agile frameworks or practices in organisations, we are going to base ourselves on a widely used but sometimes little known concept, such as Shu-ha-ri, a concept from the Japanese martial arts. This concept tries to describe the stages of learning from the beginning to mastery (Shu: to follow the rules, Ha: to break them, Ri: associated with innovation). If with this concept we take a global look at organisations where the focus is agility, we still find the bulk of organisations still in the Shu part, as their focus continues to follow more restrictively an agile framework or practice such as, for example, Scrum, which is still the most widely used. What is interesting here is that we can already find a characteristic trend or number of organisations that have moved towards a more Ha part, where in addition to combining agile frameworks or practices they have adapted them to something that really works for them, in short, looking for their own agility without being subject to a specific method.
Obviously we cannot lose sight of the fact that this step towards Ha requires maturity in the organisation and in the teams, since in large organisations it is more difficult to find this situation, but mature product teams are beginning to emerge that are trying to evolve their frameworks and adopt parts or practices from others as their own. This evolution could be used in the future as a bottom-up lever for organisations in the search for efficiency, increased value contribution or improved adaptability, among others. The next step will be to gather feedback from this break with norms in order to learn and move on to real innovation, the Ri.
Although it is not a new concept, Objectives and Key Results (OKR) are increasingly present in technology companies. Every day, more and more companies opt to base their strategy on OKR and connect the key results with their departments in order to make progress towards the objectives visible. This factor is also key in the current commitment to transparency and employee involvement so that they can participate in the company’s interests and help to create value. OKRs therefore provide clarity and accountability. They help different departments and employees understand how their work connects with each other to move towards common goals. With the advent of remote working, they are also very useful as they allow alignment on organisational goals, creating structure, but allow flexibility in implementation.
Last, but not least, company culture, a sense of community and employee wellbeing are factors that are not only of high value but also determining factors in today’s increasingly demanding environment. The effects of the pandemic are still present in organisations, which are still in the process of adapting their culture and policies to adapt to the new times. After the initial changes that had to be made at a rapid pace to adapt to the circumstances, companies in the technology sector are now working to stabilise them and make them sustainable in the long term, with new demands and needs of employees and maintaining commitment to their customers. This corporate culture must now transcend the physical boundaries of the organisation over time. If companies have innovated, adapted and reinvented themselves in terms of their policies, now is the time to reinforce them and continue to adapt to a greater decentralisation that is no longer temporary.
Without going into further detail, there is still a long way to go for agility to be understood as such in organisations. We are still dragging behind us many bad practices, as it is still difficult to make tangible the real outcome that agility offers. Strategy and culture must go hand in hand in organisations because, as Peter Drucker said: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, which tells us that, although we attach great importance to strategy in organisations, culture is a determining factor today. This is because, through empowerment, culture can be a differentiating aspect capable of providing us with new capabilities in the market, something that strategy cannot offer us, no matter how good it may be.