Gregory Caimi: Agile Innovation

More and more companies are adopting Agile methodologies, which transformed the software industry. Gregory Caimi, a partner with Bain’s Digital practice, describes the basics of the Agile approach and how it can help companies develop better solutions in more efficient ways.

Read the Bain Brief: Agile Innovation

Read the transcript below.

GREGORY CAIMI: So, Agile is a concept that I think a lot of executives understand on the surface, but few really understand fundamentally. And I think a big misconception about it is that it's actually about speed—doing regular work faster. The truth is that Agile's mostly about increasing customer intimacy and developing a rapid cycle of test-and-learn with customers so that you can develop better solutions in a more efficient way.

Agile is a methodology that arose in the software industry, but now is deployed much more pervasively in organizations. A couple of fundamental pieces of an Agile process would be to start by taking a big project and breaking it down into its constituent parts, and then prioritizing those parts into individual projects, the end-stage of each of which is to actually deliver a piece of customer value. And the projects are prioritized in a way that you're focusing on those highest-value projects first.

The third piece of Agile that's most critical is that at each stage, when you have a project completed or a solution available, you're testing it with customers and you're getting feedback. And you're using that feedback to actually help you revise not just the project you've just completed, but reevaluate that whole backlog of projects to think about what's the next-highest priority project to attack.

Typically, Agile does result in creating higher-quality solutions in a shorter amount of time, but the benefits go a little bit beyond that. Employees who are working in Agile capacities or on Agile teams tend to be more productive and more engaged. They really enjoy having that short cycle or the direct feedback from the customer, and it tends to help them create better outputs. It's also incredibly valuable for organizations that frequently face changing market conditions, because it allows companies to be much more nimble on their feet.

Read the Bain Brief: Agile Innovation