Within the business ecosystem there are many ways to implement agile strategies. Many of these strategies use a variety of methodologies that can be embraced by the leadership team and the employees. Organizations that have chosen a specific methodology and have used it rigorously have had superior results for their clients, shareholders, and employees.
The Danaher Corporation: A Beacon of Agile Excellence
A great example is Danaher Corporation, which has been deploying lean management techniques since the mid-1990s. Danaher is an American globally diversified conglomerate founded in 1984 that designs, manufactures, and markets medical, industrial, and commercial products and services. They have actually developed their own system named the Danaher Business System.
The Danaher Business System (DBS)
From the company’s website, they describe it as– “the DBS engine drives the company through a never-ending cycle of change and improvement: exceptional PEOPLE develop outstanding PLANS and execute them using world-class tools to construct sustainable PROCESSES, resulting in superior PERFORMANCE. Superior performance and high expectations attract exceptional people who continue the cycle. Guiding all efforts is a simple philosophy rooted in four customer-facing priorities: Quality, Delivery, Cost, and Innovation.” This system is deployed into every division and with every acquisition.
Insight into DBS
I know this personally because six weeks after Danaher purchased our company, a team from other divisions of Danaher came to our location and implemented this business system in one week. We immediately saw improvements in quality and delivery. In addition, our costs went down as our productivity went up. A benefit to employees was that because we changed the way they worked less employee injuries occurred.
Leadership’s Pivotal Role in Agile Adoption
Within a corporation it is best that adoption of a methodology starts with the executive leadership. This is so important because, without leadership understanding and focus on how this methodology drives change and results, they will not be able to successfully lead the organization.
In any company, urgent problems can drown out the need for systematic change. Leadership who is only focused on urgent problems often puts the business in a more vulnerable position. Leadership’s job is to create an environment for success, or another way to think about it is that leadership’s job is to create platforms of success. Leadership must be agile in what they do in order to adapt the business to the changing external and internal environments. The recent experience businesses had with the pandemic shows how agile needs to come into a company to ensure that the company is sustainable and that the employees are willing to continue to contribute to the company’s success.
The Agile Strategy Lab: A Compelling Example
A recent corporate client of the Agile Strategy Lab, National Electrical Benefit Fund, decided to use the strategic doing methodology to launch new ways of thinking, behaving, and doing.
Navigating the Seas of Leadership Transition
The company had been led for a long time by one executive, so it was important for the incoming executive to set a new way for the team to think about how to take the business forward. Adding this methodology to their already deep knowledge of their industry and of their company the team identified projects that they could work on together to improve the company’s outcomes. Learning in a safe environment helped them launch a new era of leadership.
Championing Regular Check-Ins
Emphasizing the need for regular check-ins with each person taking action has moved the projects forward. The executive team is focused and energized around expanding the product offering to their clients and increasing the client’s satisfaction with their interactions.
Leadership’s Active Participation
We have learned that it is not enough for leadership to say, “Here’s what you need to do.” It’s important for leadership to be involved with the team, taking steps with them to achieve the agreed-upon goals. As a team has regular feedback sessions with each other, they build stranger relationships. This allows them to get the projects done often by expanding their network of people. Each of these steps gives them a highly likely result that can transform their company, employees, and maybe their industry.
In today’s fast-paced business world, agile strategies have become crucial for building a business ecosystem that fosters success. Companies like Danaher Corporation and the National Electrical Benefit Fund show how powerful these agile methods can be in making positive changes, improving performance, and building strong teamwork within the company. To thrive in a constantly changing environment, it’s important for businesses to recognize how leadership plays a central role and actively engage with these agile practices. This way, they can set themselves up for long-term growth and the ability to adapt to whatever challenges come their way while building a resilient business ecosystem.
Janyce Fadden is Director of Strategic Engagement at the UNA College of Business & Technology, which hosts the UNA Agile Strategy Lab. A co-author of Strategic Doing: 10 Skills for Agile Leadership, she focuses on innovation pipeline strategy and other business engagement projects.