Harnessing Change To Get Agile

At IW we have always held ourselves to the mantra:

“Interesting work with interesting people”

This has never been more true than in the last year, working with teams in fast growth organisations through our TeamBooster programme. It has been one of the most fun projects I have been lucky enough to be run in my time in this industry. The blend of people and organisational challenges that we’ve got our teeth into has created a buzz all of its own in our team. Not to mention a whole new approach to engaging and supporting teams that has emerged. Everyone is talking about agile these days, but working with people who are embracing agile strategies means it can’t ever just be a buzzword for us: we’re integrating agile mindsets into leaders and teams on a daily basis.

Of course, one key agile principle is “welcome change requests, even late in development. Harness change for the customers competitive advantage”.

We have embedded this into our work with teams based on the some pretty simple ideas:

To deliver lasting value to a team we need time working together


The evident need now is almost certainly not what we will need six months from now

(or even one month from now)


We need to expect and embrace challenges and changes along the way

One example of how quickly the requirements change is our most recent TeamBooster engagement. We started with a short, three-month, sprint-based plan. Yet, this proved too long. By the end of the second month, the team had already started to outgrow the approach we had initially designed. The initial time investment in (newly remote) sessions rapidly became a burden. Combined with changing dynamics internally and new working methods and projects popping up within the team, the situation had changed. We clearly needed to adapt.

Rather than pushing on to the end of the planned sprint, we thought agile. Working with the team through detailed one-to-one sessions, we refined and revised the approach. No cancelled or postponed project. No long delays with round after round of discussion about what to do next. Within a week, a new model was launched. It featured shorter sprints, tighter group sessions, more one-to-one time and smaller group ‘hubs’ to explore topics further. Agile. It’s working.

I am a firm believer that great relationships are not forged in simple and easy circumstances. How we deal with change and adversity is what defines our experience of life, and the relationships we build. I believe in facing issues head on. As Marcus Aurelius put it: The obstacle is the way. The real power of that agile principle – harnessing change for customers’ competitive advantage – is not just better projects, but better relationships.

This is why this testimonial from Anna is one of my favourites ever:

“IW have truly pivoted to meet their client’s needs – what we have loved is the more flexible approach without the need to sign off huge amounts of money up front for development work, which just doesn’t work in a start-up environment. The honesty and adaptability from the TeamBooster process has meant that we have been able to build a cohesive energised senior leadership team who feel confident to face business challenges.”

Anna, HR Director at Pollinate International

Necessity to change (and we’ve seen plenty of that in the world over the last five months), isn’t just an obstacle. If you can ‘truly pivot’, it can be the way.

We are into Month Two of the revised model, and already making plans for how the next sprint will keep the team on their toes. Very interesting work, with very interesting people!