The discussion around implementation of Change in organisations has been on the rise in recent years. We often think how Agile and Change Management can fit together. In this edition, we speak to Vivek Jain, Chief Business Officer at Shiksha.com on how Agile can facilitate implementation of Change, Agile as a strategic priority, and intrinsic skills required to achieve success in an Agile organisation. He also suggests his mantra to be successful.
Q1. How can we prepare teams to be ready to make necessary, but possibly uncomfortable changes?
Vivek: You must have often heard “big changes come from small steps” However, they also come from within. At Shiksha.com, we have a culture where all teams meet and listen to each other. All the teams have the freedom to decide their own future course of objectives and actions. Teams present their plans regularly to cross-functional leadership team and participate in a constructive/healthy discussion with them. Complete ownership with team is key factor to push them to achieve their objectives. This puts teams in such a scenario where they self-evaluate their performance on weekly basis. Teams suggest their next move, before we reach out to them. At times suggestions bring discomfort. However, the teams understand the challenges and get themselves acquainted with the situation.
Q2. According to you how being Agile can facilitate implementation of a change?
Vivek: Market is continuously evolving. It is necessary for teams to keep up the pace with changing market dynamics and demands. As we continue to deepen our understanding of customers and their expectations, roles and expectations from roles has evolved. A shared value system and an agreed set of business objectives, helps the teams in evolving their direction and strategies. This agility in their plans comes from a mixture of better clarity about expectations and greater transparency across teams. Being Agile is core of execution excellence.
Q3. Do you think organisations should start treating Agile as a strategic priority?
Vivek: Yes. Changing user requirements and better understanding of customer requirements implies we have dynamism in our action plan. Flexible approach is required to lead the charts.
Q4. Why organisations have started investing in talent of their people? What are the three key benefits?
Vivek: Investing in the talent has larger goals;
- Upskill and Cross Learning- Employees are acquainted with the latest market trends and advanced technologies. Learning new skills help them see the larger pie and its importance. At Shiksha, employees continuously participate in such initiatives and we have witnessed great benefits among teams/individuals.
- Talent Retention- These initiatives breaks the monotony of the teams/individuals. Teams feel inspired to learn and implement new things. This keeps up the enthusiasm and motivation that greatly influences the employee retention.
- Organizational Values- With new learnings, we help individuals to grow within the organization. These individuals carry the organizational values with them. However, in the case of hiring a new talent, we simultaneously work on building those organizational values.
Q5. What are the intrinsic skills required to be successful in an Agile organisation?
Vivek: Intrinsic skills required;
- Customer centricity – Only a customer centric organization can understand the importance of being nimble and Agile to customer needs and wants.
- Risk takers/ openness to experiments- For an Agile organization, it is important the teams is ready to take new challenges. Teams require players with openness to try new initiatives and evaluating the opportunities. However, they also have to be the great team players in keeping the rest of team in sync.
- Decision makers- It is very important to take a right and a quick decision. Individual should be analytically strong to understand the situation and bring new ideas on the table.
Q6. How to avoid mess up while implementing a change in entire organisation?
Key important factors to ensure smooth implementation are;
- Planning & compliance- Define a proper plan weighing the real time challenges. Planning is a stage where most of things will be rectified if the plan is designed keeping the compliance in order.
- Breaking a larger goal into smaller milestones, building teams for each milestones and clearly defined ownerships of the goal brings speed in execution and predictability in outcomes.
- Awareness- Things can easily turn haywire due to complicated communication channel. Awareness and transparency across teams is very important to keep all stakeholders in sync and avoid any mess
- Clear responsibilities- Clear communication of goals and responsibilities is also important to avoid any last minute confusion. This will help sort any unpredicted event and the go to person for that.
Q7. Is there any way to ensure a change as an improvement?
Vivek: If we don’t have data on what the expected outcome of a change will be, we should plan it as an experiment. Based on the success of the experiment, we can decide to scale up or abandon the experiment. However, there are many instances where sufficient data or a proxy to the data required is available and with a reasonable certainty, we can estimate the outcome. Every change comes with its own challenges. A change is an improvement only if the challenges can be analyzed, anticipated and resolved during the execution phase.
Q8. Please share your mantra of achieving success.
Vivek: You can’t fail if you never give up. Every failure is a learning that teaches you how to succeed next time.
Vivek Jain is an esteemed Business leader with over 20 years of experience in Product Management, Product Strategy, Analytics, Machine Learning, Business Development and Business Management.
Presently, he is serving as the Chief Business Officer at Shiksha.com and holds the responsibility of leading ‘Naukri FastForward & Learning Business’ initiative. Throughout his career, he has served selected leadership positions at major companies, including Group Product Manager at Adobe, and General Manager at iSOFT. As a Business Leader, Vivek is an ardent believer in focusing on deep customer insight and for him “Innovation” means to drive growth and forwarding the momentum in an organisation.