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Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) – The Agile Agent

April 8th, 2015 Best Practices, Business

Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) – The Agile Agent

Agile is the buzz in all organisations – everyone is adopting to the new way of work and those who are still following the old ways are finding that they are quickly getting disrupted. With the increase in flow of information and quicker iteration possibility via emerging technologies organisations realise that they need to be nimble and move quickly on opportunities. Klaus Schwab, Chairman of the World Economic Forum summed it well “It is not the big fish which eats the small fish, it’s the fast fish which eats the slow fish”

“It is not the big fish which eats the small fish, it’s the fast fish which eats the slow fish” 

- Klaus Schwab, Chairman of the World Economic Forum

In the simplest terms, Agile is a collection of values and principles that encourage certain type of behavior, focus on value generation and collaboration. Agile is continuous, comprising of daily connects, constant iterations, frequent releases, instant feedback and re-work, and ongoing strategy.

For any company to adopt to Agile is more than merely changing their process. It also requires a change in culture. For most companies changing culture is the most cumbersome part, since it deals with deep contemplation’s in the below main areas:
a) Step out of Comfort Zone: Companies get comfortable with their existing processes, whether it is successful or not, they are reluctant to change
b) Change is the only constant: People believe they cannot have a process that embraces change, rather like to live in the belief that requirements change because they are poorly managed
c) Empowerment: Traditionally, managers are trained to control events, and do not consider it as intuitive or logical for development teams to be empowered to deliver or own the project

So what is the best way to introduce a platform that would address all or most of the above listed challenges, to get all stakeholders on one platform you ask?
Based on recent trends and how orgnaisations are reassessing their strategy there is a clear trend that the use of internal social networks or Enterprise Social Networks like Yammer is the way to go.

“Agile team is successful because it is honest and project status is transparent”

The Agile-Manefesto:

  • Individuals and interactions over process and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiations
  • Responding to Change over following a plan

(That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more), extracts from agilemanifesto.org

Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) - The Agile Agent

An ESN (e.g Yammer) is the change agent to bring about Agile: It becomes essential in a change environment to have a very high degree of involvement and intense conversations so as to understand the as-is state most effectively. This helps the scrum master along with his team to work around the alternate options and parallel processes continuously and to accommodate changes required after every sprint.

  • Work in one place: Capture the knowledge that’s too often lost in email inboxes and shared network drives. Yammer instead – where it’s easy to find, use, and update
  • Requirement gathering: link to relevant people, publish reports, track changes, track releases, retrospect
  • Make meetings count – Collaborate: Distribute a clear agenda before, take notes during, and assign tasks afterward. With all your notes and action items in one place, you can give email a break. The manager does more of shepherding than directing thus encouraging effective communication, analytical thinking, listening skills and yet diplomatic behaviour.
  • Prioritise and re-prioritise on the go: The team should be agile enough to stop, drop and deliver in an ever changing environment. Communication and collaboration is a must to foster this trait in the team so that everyone is in line with the action. Collaborative social tools helps save discussions for future reference by one and all.
  • Great collaborator, communicator and relationship builder: This applies to not just agile methodology, but also Yammer which functions on these lines. Yammer promotes effective communication and also helps people collaborate on a single platform to debate and disagree, but yet move on with a decision. It helps participants leave their egos outside before stepping into a conversation and be more receptive to suggestions. It helps transform individuals, making them more mature and competent

StatInsight - Enterprise Social Networks - The Agile Agent

Common questions:
When looking at social tools to deliver an agile way of working the following questions come to mind:
Q. What can an organisation do to set a team up for success?
Q. What can agile coaches do to entice positive team interaction?
Q. What tools and practices support better team work and collaboration?

The answer is enterprise social and working out loud. Simple tools like Yammer helps perform all the below listed activities while keeping all stakeholders actively informed on the happenings on a regular basis. Participants are free to pick up a healthy debate, refer a repository (even after many years), refer and re-use information from the site etc. etc. The scope is immense and most of all, very fulfilling in terms of the organisational transformation it brings about. ESN tools like Yammer helps you to:

  • Centralise
  • Organise
  • Create
  • Discuss
  • Search
  • Get answers

An Agile team is successful because it is honest and project status is transparent. Reward your team for demonstrating these values. Have you considered working agile using an ESN?

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