Dec 1, 2016

Aim to fail



Ronny Röller

The importance of code and cultural agility when building a hyper-growth venture

It might be old news, but it’s true nonetheless — what we know about the digital transformation industry is only the tip of the iceberg. Most of the industry’s potential will be unlocked within the next decade.

This presents a great challenge for Next, as we attempt to disrupt innovation.

We have discovered one important factor, however, which applies to both ourselves and our clients. Those organizations able to uncover that which is submerged — that which lies beneath the tip — are those that emerge successful.

What, then, does it take to uncover the unknown? Furthermore, how might one go about actually doing the exploration, the grunt work?

It’s simple: you fail. As much as you can.

To do so, you must develop your organization into one that is as agile as possible. Doing so will allow you to test, fail, learn, and move forward — sometimes in a single afternoon.

But agility comes in two forms.

Agile code

When an organization is technically agile, it is able to move quickly and easily. This might be in the form of 10 small releases of your product in a day — instead of single large releases every six months. A technically agile organization, for example, will be able test a new feature at lunchtime, and by that afternoon, know it will be out or in.

A screenshot of “Collaborne Weekly,” a blog post containing product updates that is released each Friday.

A screenshot of “Collaborne Weekly,” a blog post containing product updates that is released each Friday.

Agile culture

Cultural agility is the lesser-known brother to the star that is technical agility. Out of the spotlight, its importance might appear dim.

This is not the case.

Take the following into consideration: You would a better driver — not to mention faster — in your original, 1976 Ford Fiesta than you would driving a Formula One car. Sound counterintuitive? Let’s think a little deeper.

Ford Fiesta (photo: Spanish Coches)

Ford Fiesta (photo: Spanish Coches)

Even a racing legend such as Lewis Hamilton does not simply hop in his F1 car and start winning races. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. To win Hamilton requires all the support he can get from all members of his team at Mercedes AMG Petronas. Without them, he is virtually useless, despite Hamilton being the figurative “star.” A fast engine — and a talented driver—alone is not useful, unless you know what to do with it.

Mercedes AMG Petronas playing together

Mercedes AMG Petronas playing together (photo: Nick Webb)

Culturally agile organizations are able to work as a cohesive unit, leaving next to no room for miscommunication or error, and resulting in a superior product.

Next does this for its clients as well — providing a platform that allows all employees, no matter their job title or level, to work together and innovate.

In a way, cultural agility lines up with our movement to #OccupyInnovation.

Cultural agility has an organization’s best salesperson making meaningful contributions to the work of backend developers, and so on. It allows for a smoothly run operation, with as little room for confusion or misunderstanding as possible. Cultural agility is about being an organization agile enough to bring user input to development, convert that input into a feature, and push it back to user—as easily as possible.

Through a blog series over the course of the next few weeks, we will dive in to technical and cultural agility. This series will explain how we have achieved technical agility at Next—and thereby for our clients—before detailing how to build a culturally agile organization, allowing organizations to fully leverage their technical agility.

Contributing editor: Adam Kohut