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Q&A with Kubair Shirazee

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Kubair Shirazee , Enterprise Agility Coach & CEO @Agilitea.

How could you describe your career path in a few words? 

From my early 20s I was a business builder, and had built and sold three successful business by the time I was 40, including Ikonami Ltd - a healthcare-focused company that played a significant part in the implementation of NHS’s Agenda for Change, by introducing Agile principles, values and frameworks to the Department of Health and the NHS. While my business success continued, my life was rocked to the core in 2010 when my brother Abid was murdered by extremists. This tragedy re-awakened a commitment to social justice and together with my wife I launched Peace Through Prosperity (PTP), a not-for-profit initiative empowering microentrepreneurs from marginalised communities to become self-sufficient and escape radicalisation. I self-fund PTP through my Agile consultancy - Agilitea ( - which counts Novartis, Al Jazeera, Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Vodafone and eminent London councils as clients. Agilitea works with everyone from startups to global corporations to introduce agile ways of working and support digital transformation programmes to enable them to develop, upscale and thrive. 


How do you think agile practices have transformed companies over the past two years? 

Agile ways of working have been adopted by organisations of varying sizes and stature over the past decade, though appetite for adoption has skyrocketed in the past couple of years. The successes of these transformations, though, varies significantly.  


Many have initiated transformation programs without clear goals and plans in place, others have adopted plans of competitors without taking into consideration the nuances of their own organisational culture, constraints and goals. And some have outsourced their agile journey to large consultancies.   


Agile is not a one size fits all formula, and this is evidenced by the varying successes of a multitude of approaches.  


It is not Agile practices themselves that transform organisations, it's the curiosity, appetite and support for shifting paradigms that do. Agile practices alone, without the required mindset change, is a checkbox exercise that many organisations, consultancies and coaches invest in and in my opinion it is of little value. However, those organisations that combine practices with a curious, experimental, and disciplined mindset, create opportunities to improve and excel at what they do!   


What successful cases of agile transformations have you had the opportunity to observe that have particularly stood out to you? 


I have had the privilege of working in this space for more than 20 years, and have served many large and small organisations, public, private and not for profits, startups, scaleups and behemoths. What has stood out is where the people - from leaders to the shop floor - who have earnestly tried to walk the talk, have succeeded in bringing about a cultural shift in their organisation, from individual behaviours to collective accountability. Where it has merely been paid lip service, where the needed support has not materialised beyond training courses, and where investments have been lacking to build internal capabilities, it has been nothing short of an expensive PR exercise.   


Recently I teamed up with an incredible group of fellow change makers to help an eminent London Council’s Digital & Innovation department revitalise their Agile Transformation Journey. We took a very focused approach with the Council, in the limited time we had with the Council (by design) we mobilised their people in mass in a short time, and created a tipping point, a critical mass to affect a cultural shift manifest itself from within. See, enable and nurture a handful of change agents and they can be eaten by the culture, enable and nurture 40% of the department as change agents and the culture starts adjusting to the change. 


Will agile practices continue to generate interest? What challenges do you see in the context of deploying these practices? 

Agile practices will continue to generate curiosity as more businesses seek flexibility and responsiveness in a fast-changing environment. The trend towards digitalisation and customer-centricity supports the adoption of Agile ways of working.  


However, it is not about ticking boxes to appear to be an Agile company. The most valuable practice that organisation should adopt is purposeful, disciplined retrospectives; a key practice in pausing to reflect back to better move forward. This focuses on how we work together and how the system supports us in achieving goals.  


Here too there is a distinction from paying lip service - where retrospectives become a cathartic exercise - as opposed to an action-orientated opportunity to identify areas of improvements and marginally move towards it in each increment, or cycle.   


Regardless of what practises organisations and teams adopt, the key differentiator for successful adoption will remain bringing and nurturing the right mindset and culture that seeds and nurtures it.   





Biography Section :  

Kubair Shirazee is CEO at Agilitea and agile consultant for global corporations including Vodafone, Al Jazeera, Bayer, as well as several London councils. Kubair is also the founder of not-for-profit Peace Through Prosperity which delivers mini MBAs to microentrepreneurs in marginalised communities, and has so far empowered more than 2,000 individuals through various programmes and courses 

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