Never let the ‘business’ and the ‘work’ become siloed
This is a continuation of my series on how to apply agile principles to the productivity of your business.
When approaching your business in an agile way, one of the biggest barriers to change is building walls between business decisions and work decisions.
Let me define my terms: BUSINESS is the work going into servicing clients, acquiring clients, setting budgets and forecasts and planning business strategy for the future i.e. what is our target audience? What market do we want to grow into? What is our growth strategy for our next financial year? The WORK is what you are offering, the area of expertise that your clients are buying into.
Classically in agencies these two tend to distance themselves because those creating the work are better left alone to do the creative deep work uninterrupted and it’s fair to say that those skilled at creating are less likely to be good at the number crunching classically attributed to ‘business running’. Creating two silos like this is counter productive to agile working. If those creating are separated from the strategy and financial impact of their work then they are unable to make big picture decisions about how to progress and change in their work.
This can present two challenges that need to be addressed:
- The ‘business’ people want to keep their affairs to themselves. This again is partly an issue of control, it is definitely simpler and more manageable to keep the strategy and finance matters uniquely the remit of one department or person and the clients.
- The ‘work’ people don’t want to bother with the faff of getting their head round the strategy and finances of the business.
In some cases it is the latter challenge, rarely voiced, which most needs to be addressed. It does take more effort to engage in the bigger picture but given that both parties are working to integrate it is immeasurably more empowering and productive for the team doing the creating to also be the team owning the way the money is being spent, provided they do it openly and collaboratively.
It is the responsibility of both personality types to draw together. This makes spotting and fixing issues easier and allows for a great sense of ownership of the project as a whole.
Working with much smaller agencies and sole traders, you can see immediately how the clients appreciate the lack of barriers between business and work. Our aim as we grow larger is often to move away from this for the sake of simplicity, but it could be at the loss of agility.