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Q&A with Marina Alex

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Marina Alex, Business Agility Coach.



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


For the past 9 years, my career has been dedicated to actively promoting Agile methodologies beyond the traditional IT sector. My journey has taken me across 21 countries, where I've had the opportunity to support and collaborate with 34 diverse industries, ranging from healthcare to finance and retail. My primary expertise lies in the nuanced application of Agile principles to sales, marketing, and executive management teams. 


One of my main focuses has been to demonstrate how Agile transformations can significantly impact revenue and profit positively. These transformations are particularly effective when implemented in departments beyond IT, such as in marketing strategies and sales processes. This approach streamlines operations and fosters a culture of continuous improvement and adaptive planning. 


I firmly believe in the power of a holistic Agile transformation. Such a transformation is not just about adopting new processes; it's about cultivating an Agile mindset across the organization. This requires key departments' active involvement and commitment, including executives, sales, marketing, and HR. By working simultaneously and cohesively, these departments can drive substantial and lasting changes that resonate throughout the entire organization. 


In my experience, the successful integration of Agile principles in these areas leads to enhanced collaboration, increased flexibility in response to market changes, and a more engaged and motivated workforce. Ultimately, this strategic approach improves operational efficiency and contributes to a significant competitive advantage in today's dynamic business environment. 



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


In the last two years, Business Agility has emerged as a compelling alternative to classic management, particularly vital in remote teams and in our fast-changing world, heightened by the post-COVID era. As businesses navigate through economic recessions, they seek the best Agile practices to achieve their goals and ensure resilience. 


For the past 20 years, Agile methodologies have revolutionized the IT sector with their flexibility, efficiency, and customer-centric approach. Recently, the wider business world has recognized the value of Agile, with large and medium-sized enterprises adopting cross-functional teams, self-management, and continuous improvement to survive and thrive. These businesses are implementing Agile transformations to alter their structures, processes, and cultures, aiming for a more responsive and adaptive operational model. 


As they adopt Agile, organizations are also embracing a mindset shift, focusing on customer value, employee empowerment, and iterative progress. This shift is particularly crucial in our turbulent times, offering a beacon of stability and growth. By leveraging Agile's principles, companies are not just managing change; they are leading it, setting new standards for innovation, efficiency, and competitiveness in their respective industries. 

 


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


I have three favorite Agile case studies: 

  • Healthcare - saved extra lives. 

  • TV Shopping - generated an additional $20 million. 

  • Hospitality - achieved the highest revenue month since opening and eliminated silos in just three months. 


Summary of Challenges of 3 different industries were parity similar:  

  1. Unmet revenue goals, slow decision-making, and team collaboration issues. 

  2. Healthcare faced long patient wait times and stressed doctors.

  3. Sales and marketing struggled with silos and communication.

  4. IT and sales departments had conflicts. 

  5. Organizations grappled with corporate silos, poor communication, and limited collaboration. 

  6. The media industry saw declining TV viewership  


What did we do? 

We applied SWAY Systems (adapted Scrum for non-IT teams), formed cross-functional teams, and implemented weekly sprints with planning, daily meetings, demos, and retrospectives. We also utilized Kanban boards, and adjusted business goals, settings, and new teams KPIs. Within just 3-12 months, these companies experienced remarkable transformation! Every industry should recognize that Agile works beyond IT! 

 


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


The future of Agile is enigmatic; initially designed for software developers, it revolutionized the industry 20 years ago with its iterative approach and flexibility. However, today's businesses face a vastly different landscape, requiring more comprehensive, adaptable solutions across all departments. This shift marks the advent of Business Agility, extending Agile principles beyond IT to encompass entire organizational structures. 


The challenge now is the scarcity of experts in Business Agility. These specialists must be proficient not just in business language and matrices but also in nuanced revenue analysis, understanding the unique dynamics of various business units. While there's an abundance of Agile expertise in the IT realm, the demand is rapidly growing for professionals who can apply these principles in non-IT areas like marketing, sales, and executive management. 


While effective in their domains, traditional IT-based methodologies like Scrum may not translate seamlessly to other business areas. Executives, sales teams, and marketing departments require tailored Agile solutions aligning with their needs and challenges. To thrive in the coming years, businesses need to foster a culture of agility that permeates every aspect of their operations, encouraging continuous learning, adaptation, and customer-centric innovation. 


The evolution of Agile into Business Agility represents a significant opportunity for organizations to become more responsive, resilient, and competitive in a rapidly changing global market. It requires a paradigm shift in thinking, where Agile is no longer seen as a mere project management tool but as a fundamental business philosophy that drives growth, efficiency, and customer satisfaction. 

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