Agile Management increases the value of innovation using adaptive methods pioneered by Japanese manufacturers and popularized by software developers. Today, executives apply Agile techniques to a broad range of activities (including innovations in products and services, processes, and business models) in a wide variety of industries. Agile Management brings the most valuable innovations to market faster and with lower risk while improving team engagement and customer satisfaction. Scrum is by far the most common Agile Management approach, though methods such as Kanban, Lean Development and Lean Startup are also common.
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Usage and satisfaction among survey respondents
How Agile Management works:
- The leadership team identifies and rigorously sequences the opportunities for Agile innovation.
- Executives assemble small, multidisciplinary, self-governing teams to address the top opportunities.
- An “initiative owner” works with the team to establish a vision, develop and perpetually prioritize a more detailed list of potential opportunities, figure out when and how to tackle those opportunities, and ensure tangible results. A process facilitator coaches the team in Agile methods, removes barriers and accelerates progress.
- The multidisciplinary team creates a roadmap, breaks complex problems into more manageable tasks and focuses on the most important opportunities. The team works in short, iterative cycles (often called sprints) to create working prototypes.
- Customers who are collaborating closely with the team test the working prototypes and provide clear and rapid feedback on their true preferences. The team then adapts its approach to capitalize on this customer feedback.
- The team continually identifies opportunities to improve its effectiveness.
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Companies use Agile Management to:
- Shift leadership’s time and focus from micromanaging to strategizing
- Frequently adapt their strategy to capitalize on changing conditions
- Increase focus and reduce multitasking
- Eliminate low-value work and other forms of waste
- Better manage change
- Cultivate breakthrough innovation in areas ranging from new product development and marketing to supply chain improvement
Five key trends emerged from Bain's survey of 1,268 managers.
Cobb, Charles G. The Project Manager’s Guide to Mastering Agile: Principles and Practices for an Adaptive Approach. Wiley, 2015.
Cohn, Mike. Agile Estimating and Planning. Prentice Hall, 2005.
Reinertsen, Donald G. The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development. Celeritas Publishing, 2009.
Ries, Eric. The Lean Startup. Crown Publishing Group, 2011.
Rigby, Darrell K., Jeff Sutherland, and Hirotaka Takeuchi. “Embracing Agile.” Harvard Business Review, May 2016, pp. 40–50.
Rubin, Kenneth S. Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process. Addison-Wesley Professional, 2012.
Sutherland, Jeff, and J.J. Sutherland. Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time. Crown Business, 2014.
Agile Innovation techniques are spreading beyond software development to a wide range of industries and functions. Bain's Agile Insights explore how companies can adopt scrum thinking.