Do you mean agile or do you mean Agile?
There’s a lot of talk about agile working these days (especially as we’ve all had to be very nimble since lockdown).
But there’s agile and there’s Agile.
Agile with a capital ‘A’ is one of the most exciting, high impact ways to work. The speed and flexibility that comes from working with a crack team of decision-makers on brand, product, packaging and customer management – with the freedom and authority to change tack as hypotheses are challenged, spin on a sixpence and ‘pivot’ to build workable prototypes – is phenomenal. Most importantly, it delivers tangible commercial results. We’ve helped one client move from initial identification of a growth space to launching four new products in market in just 12 months, made possible because of a commitment to an entirely new way of working – internally, and with partner agencies like Lucid.
Its secret sauce is the most personal, human element: teamwork. Those precious moments when we get together to thrash out current learnings, identify blockages, choose the next way forward. That’s when Agile as a way of working comes alive, and truly powers a business forward with competitive advantage.
As with all team ventures it works optimally face to face. Moving further, faster can involve difficult conversations – solving consumer problems may mean changing direction, saying ‘no’ to something that people have invested time, energy and budget in, and ‘yes’ to a new, unexpected path. When this happens, nothing quite beats being in the same room.
But needs must in these Covid times, so we have found workarounds. We facilitate internal workshops on Teams or Zoom. We share product, packaging and comms prototypes for consumers to challenge and improve as we watch online. We run the next-day ‘live debrief’ virtually, ensuring everyone on the cross-functional team shares their perspective on what we’ve all seen, and drives the learnings forward into action together.
This kind of Agile with a capital ‘A’ demands significant internal alignment so it’s not feasible for every organisation. But we’ve learnt so much from supporting Agile teams, that we can operate in a small ‘a’ agile way for clients who want this – working collaboratively and iteratively to ensure we really understand the brief, develop the best possible hypotheses and stimulus, and pool insights into a faster, smarter debrief. Virtually, for now.
Of course, not all projects (even innovation ones) can, or should, be agile. It’s a brilliant tool when the time is right, but Lucid continues to love answering the full range of insight challenges including those requiring detailed analysis and a full-blown fully-charted debrief.
Horses for courses, as they say.
 Bain & Co’s empirical study of reports to date ‘Doing Agile Right’ – Rigby/Elk/Berez (Bain & Co) Harvard Business Press 2020 identifies that 74% find that Agile is a superior way to do innovation, impacting positively on business performance.