FITC urges groups to hold agile work plans for efficiency, growth

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Non-active organisations will face adverse consequences in today’s business environment where technology deployment and usage define organisational efficiency and profitability.

To promote agile work culture, which relies on the use of technology to achieve seamless business operations and results, FITC at the weekend held its first business summit in the year with the theme: “Building an Agile Organisation: Driving Innovation and Efficiency for Growth”.

The event, which attracted participants and facilitators across leading sectors of the economy, was a wake-up call on organisations to become agile in their operations to increase revenue, optimise cost to serve and mitigate operational risks.

Agile organisations have so much to gain in today’s business environment, and those that fail to embrace the new tech-driven work culture and operational plan have a lot to lose.

Surprisingly, many reputable organisations still carry out a large part of their operations manually because they have failed to realise that the business environment is moving to technology-enabled solutions increasingly delivered with agile ways of working.

In many instances, approvals for leave applications, performance appraisals, work descriptions among others are still done manually, with dedicated staff moving paper approvals from point ‘A’ to ‘B’. This out-dated practice has led to reduced profitability and complex operations in many companies, hence the need for agile work plans.

This was the summary of the maiden summit for the year organised by FITC, with the theme Building an Agile Organisation: Driving Innovation and Efficiency for Growth”.

FITC, the world-class, innovation-led, technology-driven, knowledge and professional services institute said the objective was to get more companies to embrace agility and reap the benefits that come with it.

The facilitators at the event included Osaretin Demuren, chairman, Guaranty Trust Bank, and the keynote speaker; Folake Sanu, executive director, Wema Bank; Ladi Asuni, partner, Emerging Technology and Data Analytics, KPMG, and Abimbola O Adebakin, CEO, Advantage Health Africa.

In her welcome address, Chizor Malize, managing director/CEO, FITC, said the theme was painstakingly chosen, in view of the recent developments of 2020, and established facts that organizations must become extremely agile, highly innovative and efficient in their operations.

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According to Malize, the event was designed to be able to engage and equip organisations with the right tools needed to navigate in today’s business environment.

“At FITC, we remain extremely focused on driving innovation, which has become visible in all our operations. We are changing our processes to ensure we are not just an agile organisation, but innovative in all our programmes,” she told participants who were drawn from different countries and across diverse industries.

Feedback and comments from participants indicated a high level of impact from the webinar and encouragement for more of such programmes in the interest of the business community and economy.

In his presentation themed: “Increasing Organisational Agility: Change, Technology, Innovation and Digital Transformation,” Ladi Asuni said organisations were moving from a digital front end to a fully digital enterprise shifting focus on agility to an enterprise level.

Besides, an agile way of working seeks to deliver certain benefits, including better understanding changing customer needs, fast and continuous improvement of customer interaction, flawless operations, low and predictable cost as well as improved employee satisfaction and attractiveness.

The adoption of agile ways of working provides a means to manage fast-paced change whilst retaining sufficient control. Firstly, the journey starts when organisations start embracing agility in the IT domain and gradually scale to larger transformation across other units where IT is strategically integrated into the enterprise.

For Asuni, adopting Agile at the enterprise level requires an operating model approach with a vision to continue to improve along the maturity continuum where agile principles and values are embraced in the day-to-day decision-making process.

Osaretin Demuren delved into the leadership role in agile organisations.

Speaking on the topic: ‘Becoming an Agile Organisation: The Role of Leadership’, she said organisations should be ever ready in today’s business environment full of unpredictability.

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A case was in the corporate world where some companies were able to quickly navigate the “New normal” and adapt their businesses to remain productive relying on existing infrastructure that enabled electronic communication and provision of services with minimal physical interaction.

But there were still a large group of companies where the Covid-19 upheaval exposed their significant weaknesses such as lack of technology, systems and skill to keep their workforce up-to-speed on the latest processes, procedures, and best practices.

Agile organizations were able to swiftly evolve their processes and procedures to adapt with the current reality of the Covid-19 pandemic. Some of these organisations had ensured their operations were flexible to immediately adapt to unforeseen occurrences.

Demuren further explained that agile organisations focus on customers, fluidly adapt to environmental changes, and are open, inclusive, and non-hierarchical. They also evolve continually and embrace uncertainty and ambiguity. Such organisations, she insisted, are far better equipped than traditional organisations for the future.

According to Demuren, leaders must transform themselves to develop new personal mind-sets and behaviours, transform their teams to work in new ways and require the ability to transform the organisation by building agility into the design and culture of the whole organisation.

Leaders are to also learn to build teams that are diverse, empowered, and connected, must allow and encourage agile teams to work in rapid cycles to enable them to deliver greater value more efficiently and more quickly and help the teams focus on important and urgent tasks through rigorous prioritisation.

Folake Sanu spoke on ‘Enabling Innovation and Efficiency in an Agile Organisation’. For her, companies find themselves facing certain challenges, including ways to keep budget flat, antiquated technology, poor data, manual back-end operations among others, making it difficult for them to embrace Agile ways of working. Still, management should expect resistance when they want to change these hindrances.

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In her words, Sanu advised, “Do not retreat at the sight of setbacks. Rather, build your best team, educate yourself on how to run an Agile Organisation, be systemic and progressive in your approach to adopting Agile in replacing traditional modes of work and success will be yours”.

She also noted that leaders must encourage radical openness among management and teams, take lessons from their failures while emphasizing the power of speed in decision making. “Speed is more critical than accuracy hence the need to decide fast, and move fast as it’s a race,” she advised.

She further explained that at Wema Bank, even though the traditional hierarchical organisational structure is still in place, there is an unprecedented increase in cross-functional collaboration and squads tackling issues and achieving collective results.

Abimbola O. Adebakin, who spoke on the theme: Driving Innovation and Efficiency for Growth-Building Organisational Agility, described the agile organisation as one which is profitable in a continuously changing environment and is able to adapt to unpredictable consumer habits.

She said there was a need to develop teams into a strong tribe with analytics tools, career paths, culture and competence based training and relevant recognition & reward systems.

“Don’t hesitate to work on an ecosystem that can largely self-manage. There will be lots of trials and errors…but worth it in the long run, since the future will demand this. Minimise a wide array of processes and practices differently across the organization, instead, sustain performance and renewal over time by employing a simpler approach to your operations – don’t be scattered for too long,” she advised.

“Networks matter more now than ever before – build a community around you. Collaborate to create value and earn the credibility to lead rather than have leadership imposed from outside,” Adebakin said.

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