Remaining competitive is often the leitmotif of every enterprise wanting to last and thrive. To stay at the top of the game, the best organizations already found the solution: Developing a capacity for adaptation facing the never-ending change of the market, with the choice of a competitive, reactive, and creativity-promoting corporate culture. Along with Livia Simoni, Agile Coach at Wemanity, and Manaëlle Perchet, Head of Impact at Wemanity, let’s explore the solutions to set up a corporate culture favorable for change in a sustainable way.
1. What Is the Agile Culture?
The Agile Culture is, according to our experts, an set of methodologies and practices that help ensure the creation of an environment based on values, behaviors, and practices for teams and individuals to be more adaptive, flexible, innovative, and resilient in front of complexity, uncertainty, and change.
‘’Today, and more than ever, we live in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous world (VUCA). Enterprises must continually adapt and instill a never-ending improvement mindset into their teams. It’s not only a management ‘’style’’, it’s actually primordial for the enterprise to last.’’
Manaëlle PERCHET, Head of Impact, Wemanity Group.
2. How to Develop a Corporate Culture Favorable for Change?
‘’Above all, an environment ‘favorable for change’ is one that allows one to plainly say why it needs to be changed, by making it tangible, transparent, and gathering. After that, this environment should allow for more experimentation, some try and learn without fearing for being wrong, with the actual creation of some necessary space for everyone to take part in while leaders are genuinely convinced and acting as role models. They’re the driving car of the train of change, but other cars must also know where they’re headed to and why.’’
Livia Simoni, Agile Coach at Wemanity
Get employees involved at every level
It’s the definition of culture: It can’t exist if it doesn’t gather a number of individuals around shared values and a mission which depends on some collective efforts. The transformation (or even the evolution) of an enterprise isn’t a passive phenomenon, but the actual result of an active cooperation between actors looking for success. The Agile culture has to live and be experienced…
Nobody stays on the bench
The first stage, as mentioned, is to gather – and therefore involve – collaborators at every level so they can work with a strong corporate culture on a daily basis.
However, it’s impossible to promote cooperation and innovation without changing the way all collaborators and departments interact with one another. It’s therefore essential to bring an environment with structures, processes, and technology that facilitate their capacity of action and involvement.
‘’Those structures and processes must support the emergence of behaviors we’d like to promote to embody our values. We create a set of values as ground base, we encourage their promotion, and therefore set a framework that will facilitate their embodiment and the transformation of the wish into reality.’’
Livia Simoni, Agile Coach at Wemanity.
Making sure everyone can evolve while respecting the values of the organization is at the heart of the Agile culture.
Leaders on the field
Nonetheless, an environment that embodies values isn’t enough. They also have to spread.
There’s only one choice if you want it to work, and it involves the theory of Leading Change: Management must lead the way and show the example by embodying values, change, and behaviors we’d like employees to apply.
In order to work efficiently in this new digital and competitive world, enterprises must invest in managers’ training to grant them the necessary skills to bring together all collaborators around Agile values.
For a successful implementation, it remains essential for leaders of change to communicate in an efficient way with their employees about the nature of the change, the use of new tools, and their goals. In that way, they will create opportunities for members of a team, as well as for the enterprise as a whole.
“Management is a real job! Unfortunately, many managers get the job thanks to their years of service, without getting a training to become a good leader… Beyond communication with employees, managers must be on the field with them. The best communication will never replace a good demonstration.’’
Livia Simoni, Agile Coach at Wemanity.
3. Demonstrating Adaptability, or Should We Say… Agility
Capacity for adaptation is key. The Agile culture means not being afraid to explore, to fail, to learn from your failures, and to continuously improve. Markets are a jungle and an enterprise must be capable of continuously challenging itself in order to adapt quickly and survive to change.
In order to be ready for everything, you must act with a sharp capacity for adaptation and improvement of your product, even when in production.
For example, the Waterfall development – the traditional Iron Triangle for software development – will first define the scope of a project before starting it, with resources and time adapting themselves along the way. On the other end of the spectrum, Agile projects have fixed calendar and resources, and it’s the scope that will vary.
Product quality will therefore be favored so that the product meets the user’s expectations and really adds value with the given time and costs.
4. Integrating Emerging Tech and Promoting Innovation
The Agile Culture is a philosophy promoting an integrating and change-embodying leadership, which therefore adapts to the fast evolution of the digital.
Artificial intelligence, blockchains, APIs, as well as augmented reality or even web3 are all the consequences of the digital revolution and aim to improve teams’ operational efficiency and provide distinct user experiences.
Enterprises must also be ready to keep exploring new emerging technology to quickly integrate the most relevant into their activities. Integrating new tech is a long process with a high ROI. Doing it too soon or too late creates a decisive gap with the competition.
Nowadays, new technology arrives and takes root so fast that enterprises must reinvent themselves entirely and on a regular basis to remain in the running and not to be overtaken by competitors who would be more aware of those changes.
A recent example is obviously the emergence of ChatGPT, which surprised – and even scared – enterprises globally, even if the technology has been existing for a few years…
5. Setting the Focus on Customer and Collaborator Experiences
This article will never stress it enough: User experience is at the heart of success in every market.
According to Forbes, 84% of enterprises who improve their user experience see an increase of their turnover and enterprises who are the best in user experience have 50% more involved employees than enterprises who have less of a focus on clients.
Putting the customer at the heart of the strategy means asking collaborators to focus on the understanding of their clients’ needs, by using data to personalize interactions and providing some fluid and consistent experience on every acquisition channel.
‘’Why would I like to put the user/client at the heart of product design? Because the client goes wherever the product meets his needs the most. So, the safest way remains to check which specifically those needs are. To put oneself in the client’s shoes, to empathize, to be able to identify which requirement we want to meet, to which problem we want to bring a solution. Only then we can think about that solution.’’
Livia Simoni, Agile Coach at Wemanity.
However, the collaborator must understand the importance of clients’ success, without feeling wronged.
‘’Agile methods allow for teams to keep improving in collective intelligence, delivery quality, and project velocity.’’
Manaëlle PERCHET, Head of Impact, Wemanity Group.
As a consequence, one of the externalities is to help teams take decisions more autonomously than in a command-and-control management style. This is – of course – only if they understand the goals and processes defined ahead of the mission. Why? Because of the need for decisions to be taken with a speed proportionate to the client’s needs while being conscious about it.
The Agile culture offers a safe environment which allows for collaborators to take well thought out initiatives in order to solve complex problems. It encourages collaboration and appropriation of the user profile, while also creating teams proud of their work and clients they take care of.
6. Building Strategic and Sustainable Partnerships
As the Agile culture expresses itself with a constant look towards the future, it’s no surprise it fits perfectly with enterprises who are aware of the world they live in, with its stakes and values. There is therefore a direct relation between Agile culture and sustainable development.
Integrating CSR within the enterprise’s global strategy
The term CSR includes all practices enterprises apply in order to respect principles of sustainable development.
Standing for Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR is often considered as a simple communication trick, but it isn’t. The enterprise must be financially viable while having a positive impact on society and respecting the environment.
‘’Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is too often considered as a communication trick or a legal obligation. It would be a great mistake to consider it as such. To act as a lever for sustainable change for organizations, CSR must not stay within those functions which – despite being necessary – are not sufficient. CSR must exist through commitment and involvement of every collaborator within the enterprise. That’s why we talk more and more often of an ‘integrated’ CSR.’’
According to Manaëlle Perchet, CSR means training your teams for them to be ready in the evolution of their jobs, but also integrating it into governance, processes, practices, and the daily life of the enterprise.
Heading to an ‘’integrated’’ CSR means extending key performance indicators of a project to the 3 Ps: Profit, People, and Planet.
‘’To summarize it simply, having your corporate culture evolve towards an Agile model goes through the awareness of economic, social, and environmental stakes of every stakeholder, for every project, in every department, etc., and the integration of the related KPIs to make it last.’’
Whereas profit remains a key element, it’s no longer enough as the sole reason for being in a VUCA world. Indeed, if we look at the current situation, with social, legal, and environmental pressures, it’s now – and more than ever – crucial to extend the key performance indicators to the aforementioned three Ps to make profit, people, and the planet the triple bottom line of the enterprise;
This also means the organization must understand the potential impact of the transformation on stakeholders and to consider those as soon as possible, right from the ideation stage.
Using technology to promote sustainability
Using technology to promote sustainability could be, for example:
- using tools to check the evolution of digital carbon emissions and decrease their impact on environment (measuring the carbon footprint of the IT system, the cloud, the architecture, applications, websites, equipment’s life cycles, etc.);
- using online collaboration platforms to decrease travels and carbon dioxide emissions;
- using some sustainable production technology to decrease energy consumption;
- investing in diversity and inclusion, and collaborating with all stakeholders.
How do Wemanity transform the world of work in a sustainable way?
‘’Wemanity allow enterprises to react to new regulations and decrease their negative externalities, including those towards environment. We guide our clients and partners by raising awareness on, training about, measuring, and decreasing the digital’s impact on environment. Firstly because we really care about the issue and we apply it within our own organization, and secondly because the digital makes it for over 2.5% of greenhouse gas emissions. It’s getting urgent to do something about it…’’
Manaëlle PERCHET, Head of Impact, Wemanity Group.
Here are some of the methods used by Wemanity:
1. Awareness campaigns, trainings, and certifications
Wemanity offer personalized training journeys depending on maturity and stakes of the client, with different tools to raise awareness: Serious games, workshops, Digital Collages, escape games, … Those gamified tools are used to raise awareness, but also measure and decrease the impact of employees’ web browsing (WeImpact Carbon), as will the Certifications ‘’Green IT: State of the Art’’, ‘’Ecodesign of a Digital Service’’, and ‘’Accessibility’’.
2. Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) of equipments and Green IT Benchmark
The goal of life cycle analysis of equipments (LCA) and of the Green IT Benchmark are to reveal the impact on an enterprise’s information system (IT) and raise the teams’ awareness on the 74 Green IT good practices. Those methods allow for both a better comparison (by evaluating the enterprise’s position compared to competitors) and action (through an improvement plan based on an objective and rational analysis). By doing so, we target relevant and priority actions, measure progress and results, make sure the regulations are respected, and – finally – we work on an improved ROI.
3. Include the environment criteria in the IT architecture
Although it’s not visible, the digital has a real impact on the environment, and there is a method which allows to conceive and deploy eco-friendly IT systems, dubbed as Green IT Architecture by Design. This method fits into a sustainable development approach and helps decreasing environmental impacts of digital technology. The Green IT Architecture by Design includes a reflection on technology choices, development and exploitation processes to make sure resources are used in a sustainable and efficient way. This is an opportunity for enterprises to get involved in a sustainable approach by reducing their environmental footprint and contributing to a more sustainable world. Adopting Green IT Architecture by Design means choosing a sustainable innovation for a green future.
4. Digital accessibility
Wemanity guide and train their clients with the creation of websites and digital products in accordance to accessibility and compliance ratings ‘’A’’ and ‘’AAA’’, while respecting the requirements of the 4 principles from WCAG 2.1: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust.
5. Sustainable APIs and the API Green Score
Wemanity are part of the API Thinking collective, who together with the support of the Yves Rocher group, launched a new label entitled API Green Score. Their goal is to lobby it at the French Ministry in charge of the digital so it can be referenced and gain more credit. It’s currently the first label of this genre in the entire world. Wemanity also has a tribe dedicated to APIs (application programming interfaces) and in charge of the animation within the collective and the follow-up on the evolution of the API Green Score. Wemanity’s goal remains to both spread green practices internally through training modules on API design and deployment, as well as to promote those values to their clients like ENEDIS.
As part of their Tech & Cloud tribe, Wemanity have an offer called Cloud Business Office, which helps clients both with the operational model and the technological part of the Cloud. The GreenFinOPS is a huge part of this offer, as it allows the client to inform, train, and involve relevant teams (OPS, developers, squad) about the importance of the environmental impact of every choice; Set up a governance as well as good practices to collect data (consumption, carbon footprint, LCA) on a regular basis and update them; Conceive and integrate the tools to share and use those data in order to give the client more visibility on the IT architecture, offer the capacity to make the good decisions and anticipate evolutions. This offer can be applied on every architecture (multi-provider Cloud, AWS, gCP, Azure, Alibaba, …, hybrid or premise).
CSR is an attention point requested by both clients and employees.
According to Forbes, 92% of clients will be more inclined to trust an enterprise if it takes into account social and environmental issues.
Moreover, according to a new barometer from Imagreen, an enterprise specialized in advising on the ecology transition, and Katar, an organization specialized in polls, ‘’75% of employees in large enterprises feel ashamed of the inaction of their enterprise towards problems like the environmental crisis and the growth of inequalities.’’
Enterprises must now take into account those stakeholders to offer answers and give more meaning to their actions.
7. How to Measure the Impact of CSR?
Every enterprise can set up a CSR approach, whatever the size, legal form, or field. Depending on their turnover and the size of their staff, some enterprises have to measure and communicate the impact of their CSR.
In France, a legal and regulatory framework has progressively been established to take into account the corporate social responsibility.
According to French governmental website economie.gouv.fr, new legal and regulatory modifications have been made to strengthen CSR since the ‘’loi PACTE’’ of May 22nd, 2019 came into force:
- Article 1833 of French Civil Code has been modified so that the corporate purpose of every enterprise includes the consideration of social and environmental issues.
- Article 1835 of French Civil Code has been modified to grant the possibility to enterprises a reason for being within their articles of incorporation.
- A new legal form has been created : The enterprise with a mission.
The acceleration of the transformation of enterprises’ CSR is the mission of WeImpact, Wemanity’s sustainability program. Using our experience, we have our heart set on spreading our methods and practices to enable greater acceleration and measurement of sustainable development by integrating it into all jobs and practices of the organization.
The Agile ideology is no longer only restricted to IT and now extends to all teams. If mastered, those mindset and methodologies help accelerate change, commitment, and added value on all three performance criteria: Profit, People, and Planet.
The Agile culture is a direction, not a destination, and articles like this one may give you the impression the concept is easy to understand, but it’s actually hard to master!
What is the Agile culture and how to develop it within an enterprise?
The Agile culture is an environment based on values, behaviors, and practices which allow organizations to be more adaptive, flexible, innovative, and resilient facing change. In order to develop a corporate culture favorable for change, it’s essential to create a framework that plainly says why change must be made, allows for more experimentation and try and learn, the involvement of employees at every level, while leaders are genuinely convinced and acting as role models.
How does the Agile culture promote innovation and adaptability?
The Agile culture encourages exploration, failure, learning, and lifelong improvement. It allows for enterprises to adapt quickly to change and to remain competitive. With the integration of emerging technology and the promotion of innovation, enterprises can improve their operational efficiency and the launch of more distinct user experiences. The Agile culture also requires a dedicateds attention to both client and collaborator experiences.
How to integrate corporate social responsibility (CSR) within an Agile corporate culture?
In order to integrate CSR within an Agile corporate culture, it’s important to train your teams, but also integrating it into governance, processes, practices, and the daily life of the enterprise. An ‘’integrated’’ CSR approach means to extend performance criteria of the organization to the triple bottom line of profit, people, and planet (3 Ps). This also means the organization must understand the potential impact of the transformation on stakeholders and to consider those as soon as possible, right from the ideation stage. A sustainable usage of technology and measuring the digital’s carbon footprint are other important actions to promote sustainability.