In the current disruption-led market, bureaucratic approach to business decisions can bring down an organization in no time. Therefore maintaining relevance, or sustaining meaningful market leadership demands the ability to respond swiftly to changes in consumer tastes, perception; and speed in developing new products, in additions to getting them to the market.
Achieving those audacious task involves deploying agile teams with focus on specific task. This is in contrast to the long established ways of operating corporately through a top-to-bottom, approval-kind of administrative organogram.
Of course there isn’t time to waste in acquiring market data, running analytics or spending weeks deliberating on what approach to take in defending, well maybe be building, market shares. In normal bureaucratic environments, marketing will have a different view, legal another, HR will also have a totally different perspective. Like a device running on an outdated software, this slows down the operating system.
Startups with nimble teams are able to upstage well established big organizations that work like albatross because they comprise mostly a team of 5-to-10 people working together. In other words, it is easier to enforce decisions.
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, one of the largest e-commerce platforms in the entire world, suggests deploying a team no more bigger than two-pizza can feed to tackle new product development or product management task. He called this agile team, “two-pizza teams”.
The term ‘agile team’ is derived from agile marketing. It is actually a speedy way of dissecting problems, searching for solutions, and possessing a rare authority to implement solutions instead of escalating issues across the multilayered management chain.
So how do you build your own agile team:
a. Have a clear sense of what you want to achieve – Do you want to respond to a competitor’s new offering? Or want to take advantage of new consumer insight to launch new products? Are you bothered by new government policy change that is affecting your business, and you need to tackle it quickly?
b. Bring together a small team of talented people who can work together with speed – Organize a group of 6-12 people who possess multiple skills across multiple functions. Each person must posses unique skills ranging from IT, to marketing, legal, inventorying, human resource, finance, media buying, public relations etc. However, for the sake of speed ensure each member is stripped of every other responsibility lying outside the immediate task.
c. Provide infrastructure for the team to work – Some firms provide ‘war room’ where the team are ‘holed up’ (resume to) for days until they come up with effective solutions. Beside that, all IT infrastructure must be made available; database that will help each specialized team member work smarter must also be provided for.
d. Build workflows and open direct access line to essential organization lead for fast approval – The team will have to agree on a workflow. This workflow must contain sessions for interactions, brainstorms and period to gestate on insights. Also for those ‘Eureka moments’ that need quick consent to move to the next stage, an essential link to the centre of decision-making is key. Ensure the team is connected to vital lead from marketing up to the Chief Executive in order to get consent before fast decisions that lie beyond its purview are executed.