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Sambit Patra: How Agile Teams Can Help Turnarounds Succeed

Agile turnarounds can empower employees, increase profit margins and encourage growth, but risks need to be managed.


Sambit Patra: How Agile Teams Can Help Turnarounds Succeed

More companies are turning to Agile teams to deal with crises, though they run the risk of acting quickly with sometimes limited data. Sambit Patra, a partner with Bain's Performance Improvement practice, discusses five ways companies can achieve a turnaround and develop employees who will innovate at the front line.

Read the Bain Article: How Agile Teams Can Help Turnarounds Succeed

Read the transcript below.

SAMBIT PATRA: Command-and-control mechanisms are largely ineffective in managing complex and large crises. Modern crisis teams are actually turning to more Agile approaches to deal with the situation. As an example, a company which is at stagnant revenues, margins are dropping, stock prices had plummeted—they used an Agile approach which led to, in a year's time, getting growth back in revenues, profit margins increased by five percentage points, and the stock prices became 4x. More importantly, the employees felt empowered, and they're working at the core of what it takes to improve growth margin, and they're innovating at the front line.

Agile does have risks, because what you're trying to do is take fast decisions with limited data sometimes. To mitigate the stress, leaders generally do five things. One, be very clear about your strategic ambitions and clearly communicate that to the organization. Two, become a coach rather than being a command center. Number three, accelerate feedback loops. Four, you are developing more tools to communicate faster and more effectively down the line. And number five, shift measurements and rewards to a larger group.

In summary, in an Agile turnaround, instead of a few people trying to push decisions down the line, you have a large set of people who actually are furiously working on the problem statement. End of the turnaround, what you have are very empowered employees who have developed new skills to tackle any situation in the future.

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