With remote working now increasingly the norm across many sectors, Business News Wales discovered how Elin Lloyd Jones, Acting Head of Innovation and Business Engagement at Cardiff University, worked with Box UK to successfully transition without losing momentum or motivation – and increase both productivity and efficiency across the team…
Elin: We were already interested in Agile pre-Covid, looking to generate greater shared understanding and collective efficiencies from the very disparate ways of working across our Innovation and Engagement teams. My key drivers were to bring those teams together, foster stronger engagement and build greater ongoing visibility of our combined work.
“My key drivers were to bring teams together around greater engagement and visibility.”
I spoke with Andrew Beaney at Box UK and he and his team gave me every confidence they could put us on the right Agile pathway, both through the questions they asked and the insights they gave on the methodologies they use to identify and embed Agile working.
Andrew: Every organisation is unique so it was vital to understand Elin’s ‘current situation’, the inevitable pain points and what she and her stakeholders were looking to achieve. There are many aspects to Agile Working, but at its core it reflects ‘real life’ – how the organisation is really working and how operations can be improved through the key tenets of Collaboration, Iteration and Feedback.
“Agile reflects real life – it’s open and honest and builds on what you already do well.”
In that sense, working with Elin has been no different than working with any other client – understanding what they do well, then building on that in a shared and collaborative way to get total buy-in. You don’t have to wipe the board clean – you can build on what’s already there and what’s right for the organisation. In Elin’s case that centred around the adoption of Kanban (rather than Scrum for example) as well as regular Retrospectives. Kanban is made for making your work visible, identifying blockers and bottlenecks, and encouraging conversations to resolve and improve these. You can start exactly where you are with Kanban, representing your current process and observing its strengths and weaknesses. Through regular Retrospectives, the team can gain consensus on these and identify improvements.
Elin. Andrew and his team worked through a series of workshops with us and that investment in bringing the team together to explore a different way of working was, on its own, invaluable. The subsequent tools that Box UK helped us adopt and embed have created a sense of a shared vision, so we’ve been able to drive continuous improvement through a collective understanding based on a continual re-iterating that’s allowed everyone to visualise the bigger picture. It’s promoted conversations and better ways of working that otherwise simply wouldn’t have happened.
“The team is now empowered to work together and solve any issues together.”
It’s proven a very powerful way of changing the way we work – constantly refreshing our understanding and moving us away from dry reporting to a transparent and shared methodology where the team is empowered to work; and solve any issues together.
What’s the biggest impact to date? Moving away from a group of siloed individuals to become a true team – this has stopped the overlaps and duplication, helped cement the understanding of how each other’s roles are co-dependent by moving away from an office whiteboard to a cloud-based kanban tool, and begun building a new ethos where people can both share and take wider ownership. It also means that we can evolve to a more outcomes-based way of working, rather than time-based, so it can help evolve our culture as well as our performance.
Andrew: Like any group that adopts Agile Working properly, Elin’s teams are seeing the incremental benefits of being empowered to work how, where and when they want. It’s absolutely critical that Agile delivers a convincing answer to the inevitable question of “What’s in it for me?” and in that sense it’s classic change management – ensuring you initially get everyone on the same page by having the strategy, shared motivations and agreed expectations in place.
“You discover how you work rather than how you think you work”
In many ways the biggest advantage of Agile Working, whichever aspects are implemented, is that it’s so open, transparent and honest. It allows people to be the best they can be, whatever the organisation. I’m convinced it’s the major game-changer for today’s workplace – and I’m delighted to see it working so well for Elin and her team.