In today's rapidly changing business landscape, the ability to adapt and perform at a high level is crucial for success.
While many large corporations recognize the importance of agility, they often face challenges in fully embracing it. In this article, we will explore the four pillars that are integral to building high-performing teams and driving efficient innovation.
Disclaimer: We’ve tested it for years at Sparkmate, it works.
“At a lot of big companies, process becomes a substitute for thinking. You're encouraged to behave like a little gear in a complex machine.” - Elon Musk
Recognizing the Missing Piece
Here’s a thing that large companies understand well: agility is a key driver of efficient innovation and of high-performing innovation teams.
Agility, in the context of business, refers to an organization's ability to swiftly and effectively operate, adapt, and support its business processes while delivering value to its customers, ecosystem, and people.
It encompasses a culture that embraces change, dynamic leadership, and flexible governance. It’s what enables an organization to navigate through a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environment, ensuring a continuous focus on delivering value.
It’s not about the process. It’s not about governance and leadership first. It’s about operations first, and how efficiently you operate.
It’s no surprise for anyone that the toughest challenge that large companies face is their size and the slowness it implies. But it's not enough to be a master of your craft. Companies that can adapt quickly to evolving market conditions and customer demands are more likely to thrive and remain competitive.
With this in mind, companies are now investing in agile methodologies, fostering a culture of adaptability, and empowering employees to think on their feet. They're breaking down silos, encouraging cross-functional collaboration, and a fail-fast mentality that rewards experimentation and learning.
It’s great but in doing so, corporations are leaving a few things behind.
The 4 pillars that matter:
To truly unlock high-performing teams, companies need to consider four key pillars that complement agility.
A prerequisite and the foundation for all the work that’s left to do.
Building a foundation for success requires employees to possess the necessary skills to turn the company's vision into reality.
As projects are meant to shift and things should evolve, also consider their ability to adapt to change and learn new valuable skills.
Once this is set, the rest can be taken into consideration.
Many corporations still live in the stone age. The right tools make communication easier and faster, the work quicker and less tedious, and the team more dynamic.
Essentially it comes down to giving your employees the opportunity to leverage their hard skills. Good tools should feel easy to use and intuitive.
The risk is to introduce too many useless different tools that hinder productivity instead of fostering it.
Good Tools also extend to the office design. It’s crucial that your workspace aligns with the mission at hand. Depending on the nature of your work, you may require workshops, showrooms, labs, or other types of collaborative spaces that facilitate a strong connection between your team and the mission they are pursuing. These environments serve as playgrounds where creativity and innovation can flourish, enabling your team to immerse themselves in the essence of your mission on a daily basis.
Having smaller teams accelerates inside processes and ensures that information is distributed.
Small enough to stay agile but big enough to get the work done is what we’re looking for here.
It’s also super important to note that by working in smaller teams, employees are afforded a greater sense of ownership and the opportunity to directly witness the tangible impact of their contributions.
That’s how you foster a deeper sense of engagement and fulfillment.
At Sparkmate we like to say that the ownership of a project should be shared, not distributed among team members.
Finally, rhythm will help keep the motivation high and things running smoothly.
In the world of innovation, every company has its own unique rhythm, akin to a heartbeat. At Sparkmate for example, we like to operate with cycles of 5 weeks. It gives us enough time to deep dive into complex problems. Design and build solutions. Deliver tangible results.
Discovering the rhythm of your organization is essential, taking into account the nature of what you're building. While some product teams may thrive on Agile methodologies with defined sprints, such as two, four, or six weeks, this approach doesn't always fit for hardware or drug design.
Set goals often and make yourself accountable for them. Evaluate them often and consider what should be done to reach these goals and ambitions.
Without a consistent rhythm, the operational process becomes erratic and lacks structure, leading to inefficiencies and unpredictability, thus lack of agility.
Building a high-performing team able to efficiently deliver innovation projects goes beyond agility alone.
If most startups and smaller companies nail it, it’s mostly due to their inherent size and not their willingness to be.It would be unfair not to acknowledge the size of larger companies and the given difficulty of cultivating such an environment.
In the end, large corporations could benefit from these ideas by re-examining their strategy, structure, processes, people, and technology in light of having Hard Skills, Good Tools, Smaller Teams, and Rhythm.
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