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Ben Ross | Propel Ventures Co-FounderAug 10, 2023 8:54:24 AM2 min read

Insights from Jon Smart

We had a fantastic time last night at the Base Station, welcoming Jon Smart to share his experience in how to transform agility in organisations. Many relatable moments as he talked to the mistakes he's made along the way and the valuable learnings as a result.

The human element Jon brings is unique. Sadly, it's not often that the social and environmental factors are considered in organisational transformations. The Better Sooner Safer Happier movement cares about this "improving ways of working is not at the expense of society or the planet".

Improving ways of working is key, "If we don't get better at the how, we won't get better at the what". 

1. "Be" agile, don't "Do" agile: Agile isn’t merely about checking boxes and performing motions in robotic manoeuvres. It's about delivering genuine value in the context of your unique organisation. Being overly process-driven can overshadow the true essence of Agile. Move from productivity to "valuetivity" - don't ignore the weakest link in flow to value, focus on it first.

2. Achieve big through small: Envision your organisation as a fleet of nimble speedboats instead of a colossal oil tanker. Smaller teams and smaller slices of work. Celebrate intelligent failure, creating a psychologically safe environment. 

3. Invite over inflict. Not one size fits all: Leverage the enthusiasm of early adopters to drive the change. It's about your culture, play to it. 

4. Leadership behaviour will make it or break it: Leaders play a critical role in enabling business agility. Jon highlighted the importance of supportive leadership that trusts and empowers teams to make decisions. Leaders should act as enablers, providing the necessary resources and removing obstacles to help teams deliver value effectively.

5. Whole organisation agility: In today's fast-paced world, change and uncertainty are constant. Jon discussed how Agile and Lean principles enable organizations to adapt quickly to changing market conditions and customer needs. By embracing uncertainty and leveraging feedback loops, businesses can stay ahead of the curve.

6. Build the right thing. Focus on outcomes over output: Producing more doesn't inherently mean achieving more. The spotlight should remain on crafting things that matter, those which offer real value, rather than just increasing output.

7. Go slower to go faster: Improving daily work is as important as daily work. Encourage experimentation, learn from failures, and constantly seek ways to improve. Iterate for faster learning and innovation.

Jon also talked to the anti-patterns the he sees, things like "all the names" but no agility. Calling yourself a "squad, tribe, mission" doesn't mean you will be better at delivering value in the shortest time with the least effort at quality.