Find out why an agile mindset is increasingly important when it comes to staying competitive

There’s a lot to agility.

Find out why an agile mindset is increasingly important when it comes to staying competitive and the advantages of this approach, especially when implementing a
new system landscape.

The world is in a state of constant flux. Yesterday’s next big thing can soon become old news. Innovation cycles are becoming shorter, while processes become more and more complex and customers increasingly unpredictable. Start-ups are shaking up the markets with their disruptive business models. The new world is digital and connected, fast and dynamic. It’s all about VUCA – volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. It is a world of constant technological change, high speeds and ever greater competition, with huge variations in customer preferences and behavior.

Flexibility is key

In this situation, agility is required both in every area of a company and above all in the mind. Successful companies have recognized that they cannot go on working as before. A new way of working is conquering offices – and “agile” is the magic word that sums up a new mindset. What does it mean? Agile working means always being ready to respond flexibly and change. The organization is constantly learning and handles its expertise transparently, following the principle of sharing is caring. At the same time, the company is thinking ahead, trying to anticipate developments and utilize them in innovative ways. It is absolutely vital that the customer always be placed at the heart of every consideration.

An agile company is the result of a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset, as Carol S. Dweck says. Someone with a fixed mindset clings to strict hierarchies and traditional departmentalized thinking. As a consequence, decisions take a long time, individuals have little responsibility and there is not much flexibility. A growth mindset, on the other hand, is seen in a culture where interdisciplinary teams work together in harmonious, trusting ways. Communication is transparent and open. Employees value 360-degree feedback and individual responsibility. This has the effect that collaboration becomes faster, more flexible and more transparent – both internally and externally. It also gives a significant boost to the company’s performance capability.

This kind of transformation does not happen overnight, however. After all, it involves a major cultural change. The process has to be led from the top-down, and requires appropriate structures, courage, openness, a committed change management team and constant communication to support staff through the changes.

Small steps for flexibility

An agile mindset is particularly advantageous when it comes to introducing a new system landscape such as SAP SuccessFactors. Agile processes are no longer about setting up a complex and confusing package as a whole in a rigid, inflexible way. Rather, changes are introduced in small pieces and small steps and these are repeatedly monitored and reviewed. For customers, this takes the shock factor out of even the most comprehensive digital implementation project. The obstacle to introducing such innovations is reduced to a minimum. Agile processes make complex matters simpler, make implementation faster and train the focus on customers and their needs. Ultimately, they are a joint effort by the team, where everyone has an eye on the big picture and plays a part in getting there.

Questions arise in the middle of the process

For more than two decades, we have been advising companies in the SAP environment. In practice, we have noticed that many questions only arise once customers have got to know the system better as the project progresses. Flexibility is therefore a great advantage, and this can be achieved by taking an agile approach. Customers can then help shape the process, take an active part in the implementation and have the opportunity to adapt things flexibly, for example with the help of the tts labs – an innovative, creative environment where experienced, committed system architects can implement special customer requests that go beyond the standard possibilities of SAP. This also offers a valuable opportunity to scrutinize traditional processes, strategies and structures. To this end, it is helpful for customers to experience a testable version of the product at the earliest possible stage of the process.

By the way, we don’t use agile methods as standard. We assess each project individually and consciously adapt to customer requirements and the type of project involved. Just to be clear – agile methods are not suitable for every context. Wherever they do make sense and are a good fit, however, they offer great advantages. Or to put it another way – there’s a lot to agility.