How VAT can boost your teamwork during COVID-19 and its aftermath

COVID-19 hit us and sent complete teams home. Companies desperately started setting up infrastructures for home office and teams started slowly learning a new way of collaboration. However, effectiveness started to drop significantly. Old ways of collaboration in a new environment did not fit together. A new way of collaboration is dearly needed in order to be prepared for a second wave and the new reality of work.

By going into lockdown and now being on partial lockdown effectiveness of teams just went down. This is no surprise if we take into account that only some weeks ago people sat together for 8-12 hours a day. Now being separated in a home-office set-up, is for many people a burden. Adding to it, the normal business we were all accustomed to is no longer prevalent. Things just changed! Being it delivery chains breaking apart, staff commuting from the neighbouring country not able to cross borders, suppliers not being able to deliver and even declaring bankruptcy, staff getting sick, and home-schooling as an on top burden. All these facts end up in an effects cascade on your side: Your deadlines are not being met – your staff is losing their focus – your projects are being delayed and team members are already feeling frustrated as well as team leaders being overwhelmed and employers losing trust in their staff. The most extreme new development I have observed during the last weeks is detective agencies being contracted by employers who do not trust their staff in home office. 

All this was caused by the pandemic that basically only did intensify the VUCA phenomenon, which was already a reality before. Never heard of VUCA? I am pretty sure you have. Let us put it this way:

V – volatility = rapid changes of the environment that are unpredictable and may not recur

U – uncertainty = there is no predictability, no concrete trends or patterns or reliance on the past

C – complexity = there are multiple effects at the same time

A – ambiguity = multiple interpretations are permitted and equally valid, which make it difficult to decide

Does it sound familiar now? The VUCA phenomenon is the reality we were living even before COVID-19. The virus made sure to add to the equation by accelerating disruption worldwide. Fact is, that the volatility and the complexity cannot be tracked by traditional operating systems and ways of working. The risk of these conventional ways is higher because of the uncertainty of markets and trends as well as speed of innovation. So basically if we try to confront the actual crisis by sticking to traditional operating models we will fail.

A call for agile! What?

It is time for all of us to become more agile! In every sense of the word. 

“It is variable speed and flexible speed that will win the VUCA World” – Bob Johansen

There are huge benefits for companies, teams and even solo-entrepreneurs and freelancers who adopt agile. The 13th Annual State of Agile Report (see www.stateofagile.com) shows some of the benefits based on a survey conducted around the world every year. Some of them are e.g.: the ability to manage changing priorities, project visibility, business alignment, team morale, delivery speed/time to market, increased team productivity, project predictability and project risk reduction (see figure 1: abstract from the report)

As you see, the benefits of agile methods have a counterbalancing effect on the VUCA phenomenon. I am not saying that Agile will solve all the disrupting effects of VUCA, but it definitely is the one approach that can help move your team and company ahead in a disruptive environment. However, it will also depend on your culture. By adopting an agile tool but not changing to an agile culture, you will be doing the same as before just with another costume. So beware, it is not only a tool to be learned, it is culture to be embraced!

What is Agile and why should I adopt it?

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” –  Stephen Hawking

Well, there are several reasons why agile conducted in a proper way is becoming more popular and should be adopted by every organisation. First of all, for the customer it is extremely satisfying because every 2-4 weeks he/she is getting a working product version, which he/she can test and comment on in order to be adapted and enhanced.

For the customer it is not only a fantastic opportunity to give feedback to the team working on the product but he/she might discover new value enhancing qualities that weren’t there when the first idea for the product was stated. Second of all, and also positive for the customer is the fact of reduced costs and risks by having the iterative development rather than getting a product after a long time of development and having spent huge amounts of money. Third, for the development team, the fact of being more visible because of their self-organisation and the trust placed on them during the iterations, which is a huge motivational factor. Fourth, the fact of having regular reviews with the customer, with the objective of increasing the products’ value. This is for a development team a fantastic exercise as they get the customer’s perspective from first hand. And last but not least, in every iteration a reflection of the team on their ways of working is conducted, giving them the opportunity of improving themselves in a shorter time period than a 1-year review or an End-of-Project review.

Adding to all the above and if you are a fan of statistics, here are some figures that might inspire you:

95% of respondents of the 13th Annual State of Agile Survey reported at least some of their agile projects have been successful with 48% reporting that most or all of their agile projects were successful. The most recent Standish Group Chaos Study results show Waterfall and Agile project success and failure rates. According to it Agile projects are statistically 2 times more likely to succeed, and 1/3 less likely to fail than waterfall projects.

So if you are now thinking about how to embrace agile in your organisation here is how we can help you:

What is VAT and how can it help you?

We at 3E believe that people, process, culture and systems should be in sync in order for you to be successful.  We believe that agile methodologies at every level of an organisation are the answer to cope with the disruptive elements around the world because they minimise risks, they reduce costs, they are flexible and can adapt to new developments at every time, and they increase the delivery speed or time to market. Therefore, we have developed a set of Training Programmes around agile methods to help you and your team not only learn agile methods of working in a virtual environment but to embrace agile in your organisation.

VIRTUAL AGILE TEAMS® or as we call it VAT will introduce Agile ways of working in your organisation as a perfect way to increase the team spirit, keep your team focused and get results on shorter time cycles. The risk of losing focus and money is minimised through the application of agile methods and the shorter time frame for delivery of results. In 12 weeks, your team will be running by itself on agile.

The programme offers you the possibility of choosing out of three different  approaches, the best suited for your organisation. The 3E-ELEMENTARY Agile Programme, the 3E-ENHANCED Agile Programme or the 3E-ENTERPRISE Agile Programme help you and your team manage and achieve best results. Depending on the knowledge of agile methodologies we help you decide which of the programmes will help you best. Contact us and learn more about our programmes.

We launched VAT in May 2020 to help you cope with the new reality due to COVID-19 and the disruptive changes of our time. Use the opportunity to EMPOWER your team, EXECUTE your plans in an agile way and EVOLVE your organisation to the next level.

Visit us and find out the variety of tools we are offering as response to COVID-19 effects on organisations as well as our Group products. More under: www.3e-success.com