After quoting numerous books and sources in the course of my research, my aim was also to get to know the faces of the most important publications and to exchange ideas with them. So I had a dialogue with Svenja Hofert on the topic: more agile companies. Svenja Hofert is the author of the book: Agile Lead: Simple Measures for Better Teamwork, More Performance and Greater Creativity. Svenja Hofert is Managing Director of careers consultancy Career & Development and of Teamworks GTQ Gesellschaft für Teamentwicklung und Qualification mbH. She is an entrepreneur, management coach, speaker and blogger. In the dialogue, I have given Mrs Hofert some exciting theses and summarize their thoughts on these in the following article.

Only agile companies are sustainable!

Agility has been a total hype for a few years now, Hofert said. This is due on the one hand to the media and on the other hand to the digital transformation. Companies are threatened by startups and constantly changing customer wishes. Even established corporations have long since ceased to be inviolable. There are also completely new requirements for innovation. Customers are more demanding and products need to be digital, customizable and absolutely revolutionary to make customers enjoy them.

“Our world is very different,” says Hofert. Many companies with very little agility are also very successful at the moment. So the question for Hofert is: Where does the company stand and where does it want to go. Accounting can also be agile. According to Hofert, the question is: how much sense does this make? For this reason, Hofert takes the approach that every company already has a certain degree of agility and that one only has to think carefully with which methods and how far one can increase them meaningfully. In concrete terms, this means that “more agile companies are therefore sustainable”.

Only more agile companies are capable of the future!

The title of Hofert’s book is : “Leading more agile”. From this point of view, the meaning of this metaphor is talked about. Hofert does not define her considerations as a fundamentally new framework or a new management style. Their motivation is to improve companies in a targeted and meaningful way and to “make them more mature”.

Every company already has a degree of agility and we now have to decide how to increase it.

For example, Ms. Hofert’s website has a maturity model for agile companies. Based on the human maturity of the employees and the type of leadership, Ms. Hofert defines several stages of agile companies. According to Hofert, each company can determine the status of IST and evaluate exactly to what level this maturity should be increased.

more agile company
Svenja Hofer’s agile maturity matrix shows agile maturity based on leadership and staff (Source: Svenja Hofert).

We need to rethink leadership!

Much of Ms. Hofert’s book deals with leadership. Here, it asks you to “rethink” leadership. The main aspect behind this thesis is the task of command and control and the shift towards self-organization, according to Hofert.

Agile leadership is a dynamic posture, a mindset that understands change as a permanent state. Agile leaders are agile, flexible and capable of transforming people, teams and processes. They see leadership as a role, rather than a position or function.

Ms. Hofert added another important point directly to the definition of agile leadership: Agile leaders promote the self-organization of groups through permanent team development. The aim is to promote self-responsibility and creativity. Hofert sees this as an essential skill of managers, as too much emphasis is often placed on the development of individuals rather than teams. The development into so-called high performance teams is therefore an important task of an agile manager.

High performance teams are…

… Teams that are willing to perform above average but, despite that performance, do not stop increasing it further, Hofert said. She cites the example of the Bayern Munich football team, which, despite very good performances, does not stop constantly improving.

Another aspect of such teams, according to Hofert, is that they do not merely compare themselves to their own company. Using the example of Bayern Munich, Hofert says: FC Bayern does not compare itself to the Bundesliga but to other top international clubs. In addition, various studies show that teams that interact with other external teams often perform much higher.

More agile teams are more successful than less agile teams!

“Agile teams are more social and communicate more,” says Hofert. However, the results of the study are not surprising. What is surprising, however, is how clear the result was. In the study, Hofert identified agile teams on 6 factors:

  1. Team decision, that is, joint decisions of colleagues, no instruction from a direct disciplinary superior.
  2. Daily structured meetings with all team members, for example so-called stand-up meetings, Daily Scrum.
  3. Iterative planning, i.e. planning in short cycles, within which the team must not be disturbed by new external requirements (customers, management).
  4. Use a board to represent and visualize the workflow, which can be seen by each team member and shows the work status openly.
  5. Self-responsible allocation of task packages.
  6. Retrospectives, i.e. team meetings with the aim of learning from the past and analysing the work ex post.

Hofert classified the participants of the survey in the categories agile and non-agile by means of its own questionnaire. They were then surveyed in West/Brodbeck with the “Team Climate Inventory” questionnaire – and the differences in the answers were examined. 5 hypotheses were confirmed – both the team climate and the subscale vision orientation, task orientation, participatory safety and willingness to innovate were significantly greater among the agile participants than among the non-agile participants.

Genderhinweis: Ich habe zur leichteren Lesbarkeit die männliche Form verwendet. Sofern keine explizite Unterscheidung getroffen wird, sind daher stets sowohl Frauen, Diverse als auch Männer sowie Menschen jeder Herkunft und Nation gemeint. Lesen Sie mehr dazu.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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