Our first sustainable agile community call was a great success. I am truly honored and humbled to receive support and encouragement from an amazing group of people and global thought leaders showering a wealth of experience, wisdom, and ideas to make this community richer and a great place to be.
We started the meeting with me sharing the background around:
- Why? the origin of the Manifesto for Sustainable Agile
- how I derived my aspirations from my experiences across different industries while delivering agile transformations across the globe
- my interactions with various thought leaders in the field of agile, sustainable business strategy, psychology, and organizational behaviour etc.
- what’s fundamentally broken with our current ways of working and current way of the unidirectional capitalist mindset
Next, we discussed a quick summary of challenges we are aiming to solve with the Sustainable Agile community and some high-level thoughts around what changes or actions we need to realize these solutions?
As a result of continuous dialogs and discussions with the community members, one of the key questions which always gets shared or asked is “How to convince people to be more sustainable?”. In general, people may not explicitly say that in meetings or official communications but in most of the informal discussions, hallway chats, etc. people generally support the idea of sustainability. It is important that the notion of sustainability goes beyond boardroom discussions and feel-good marketing campaigns. That’s where a structured approach is required. When I started thinking about what the approach would look like – I was bogged down with different aspects of people personas, multiple dimensions of challenges, and pragmatic vs academic view of sustainability. After many sessions of refinements and simplification, I ended up creating a framework – RESS (Reimagine, Expand, Shift, and Sustain) to guide the discussions around sustainability and provide a simple and common understanding of sustainability for everyone. The beauty of this framework lies in its simplistic and scalable approach – you can apply it to a start-up, small or mid-size business, big enterprises or even in government or social organizations.
In order to start your race towards sustainability, you start with where you are and identify areas where you can make an impact. In order to identify and act on areas of impact, you need an open mind. The key advice here is to ensure you a long term view when you are reimagining your future. Your actions need to be time-bound and concrete. It allows you to consider your actions as growth experiments that can prove your hypothesis and provide a path forward.
The next step is to expand your vision. At every level of organisation, vision guides your actions. Whether you are a developer or a director, start thinking about the entire ecosystem. When you quantify benefits or talk about business justifications, start addressing all stakeholders i.e. customers, employees, shareholders, society, government and the environmental ecosystem. You can start this at any level – it need not be a top-down exercise.
The 3rd step is to ensure we do well while we are doing good. Instead of making business sustainable, think of business models to make sustainability your business. The shift from Profit-driven to purpose-driven doesn’t happen through philosophical talks – you need to innovate business models that yields profit when you focus on the purpose with right rigour and intent.
The last step is to sustain the transformation and business growth. This is really tough – with so many variables in play, creating sustainable business growth is extremely difficult (not impossible though). It is less riskier from complete extinction. The companies who have mastered this have one thing in common – they have instilled a new value system across the organization by adopting new ways to hire, train, retain, invest and grow their people.
The state of the world demands accelerated actions towards sustainability. The companies who will prioritise sustainability through purpose and passion – will lead the business arena irrespective of the domain they are in.