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27 Mar

Agility - The Solution for Long Term Success

Sprinter Jumping Over Hurdles

 

The topic of agility is near and dear to my heart. I have watched organizations, with amazing products and people, fail. I can’t help but feel the reason for this is a misunderstanding and/or a lack of value in agility. Agility is not something only afforded by the start-up, nor is agility defined by the small company that quickly reacts to a few or new customers. Instead, agility means something different to each part of the organization and should be something we strive to achieve.

Product development can claim it’s agile because of the methodologies and tools it uses. But without customer interaction or closely following market trends, development may not be able react quickly or even efficiently. This results in products or features that no one wants or worse, products that never ship. It appears obvious, but why is there such a large disconnect within organizations between the product development arm and sales and marketing?

Agility is accessibility - a map for effective and efficient communication. At SevOne it's the biggest strength. Below are three examples of how we've practiced what we preach:

  • A SevOne software architect spending time with a customer to understand a complex need.

  • The thought leadership from both our organization and the customer getting together to exchange ideas on a regular basis.

  • A customer getting to work directly with the support engineer who understands the specific environment and knows them personally.

The mission and product vision of your organization should be known from the marketing intern to the CEO. If your decisions align with this mission, you can focus more time on creating solutions and less time on trying to communicate “why.”

I watched SevOne grow from three of us in a garage to a truly global organization. When you’re working with your friends, communication requires little to no effort. As you grow you must breathe this culture into every new member of the family or you risk creating an organization filled with safe processes and closed communication. You’ll soon start to wonder why things that took days or hours to do before now take months or never happen at all. Agility is a culture. And regardless of the size of your organization, its values are rapid decision making, efficient action, and constant, open communication. If you have questions for Steve leave a comment below.

Steve Mahoney is recently promoted Director of Product Management.

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