Agile approaches to a changing world

Agile working is much more than methodology, argues Jono Wilson of Barnett & Turner. It’s a whole different way of thinking about how work is done and managed, how teams deliver and how we behave.

We’re all conscious that the world is changing dramatically. Technology moves on at an accelerated pace and the expectations of our customers are raised. Of course, it’s never possible to predict the future – and we can’t prepare ourselves for every eventuality – but by changing our mindset we can equip ourselves to manage change. 

Embracing change helps us prepare for, and respond positively to, disruption.

A key element to the approach is building cross-functional teams on projects, so you can add real value to the organisation by breaking down silos and making sure that all the expertise needed to deliver are working together in one team. Maybe we should embed a digital or data expert alongside our tax advisors or corporate finance contacts? Bringing together a range of perspectives result in new ideas that help us deliver differently, we use data to manage in ways we haven’t thought of before and, perhaps most importantly, we collectively develop a better understanding of our customers and markets.  The exchange of knowledge, experience and insight produces highly effective results.

We’re going through the process here at B&T as part of building our Firm of the Future.

We brought people together from across the business and identified key areas that we wanted to address, breaking everything down into small, manageable and actionable tasks.

While our priorities were obviously specific to our firm, you could think in general terms about areas in your own business, such as billing processes, customer relationships or technology. What are the issues that are most important to you and the changes that you anticipate could deliver real value?

You approach the tasks in a structured way with regular, delivery deadlines, often within teams. It relies, of course, on participants being ready to jump in and embrace the process. It’s also important to have buy-in from senior people within the organisation and strong leadership in place. We have been really impressed with the amount of progress that we are able to make using the new tools, techniques and ways of working. 

My advice is to start small and perhaps choose one area of your business to look at.  It may not be the issue causing you the biggest headache (or be the one that is most difficult to address) but it will demonstrate the approach and secure some buy-in.  Try to maximise the use of data as well, to help you make the right decisions.

Although different organisations will benefit in varying ways, embracing the change is a philosophy that can be adopted by both commercial companies and public bodies and by small and large businesses alike. A whole new way of working may not always be easy at the start, but in a world of fast-paced change, the approach is essential for longer term survival and success.

If you would like to discuss anything related to this article please do not hesitate to call Barnett & Turner on 01623 659659 or email Jonathan at