Agile Business is Good Business: Lessons from the 2018 Agile Business Conference

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Agile practices are growing in popularity across industries, and for good reason: Business Agility helps enterprises adapt to the fast pace of change.

Long gone are the days when “Agile” referred only to a method of software development. Nowadays, companies across industries have adopted Agile practices in many areas of their business. Agile influences how these businesses go to market, and how they manage client relationships. It impacts how they design their people organizations and corporate culture. It informs how they manage their teams, how they communicate, how they manage their budgets, and countless other activities.

Here at Distillery, we’ve always taken an Agile approach to the way we do business. It’s not only how we work, but how we think. That’s why we continue to explore new ways we can use Agile to make our business better. With that in mind, we recently sent Distillery General Manager Anar Babaev and Head of Project Management Kate Svirepo to the 2018 Agile Business Conference in Moscow.

Held at InfoSpace, the event brought together more than 500 participants for a range of Agile-focused presentations and discussions. According to Babaev and Svirepo, this year’s conference delivered value in the form of inspiration, insight, information, and connections.

Explains Svirepo, “Yesterday, Agile was an innovation. Today it’s a common approach for teams and companies because it brings better results. Today’s trend is Business Agility, which means that not only should a team or department be Agile — to be able to respond to challenges, a whole company should be Agile. In addition, collaborations between companies should be Agile in order to create ‘win-win’ solutions and achieve better quality and better results together.”

Inspiration that Challenges Us to Dig Deeper

“We all know the term Business Agility. It’s not a new concept for the market,” says Babaev. Nevertheless, it was inspirational for Babaev and Svirepo to spend time exploring some of Agile’s main operational ideas and approaches and how they can be used in a more holistic approach to doing business. Their thinking, of course, quickly ranged back to how the ideas can be applied to Distillery’s business methods, as well as the company’s overall business situation.

Information that Helps Us Innovate

Several sessions allowed the pair to gain insight and information about specific ways they can continue to innovate Distillery’s operations. For example, the conference devoted time to the ideas represented by “Beyond Budgeting.” “Beyond Budgeting” focuses on moving away from traditional command-and-control management toward more flexible processes that support empowerment, trust, and adaptability. The information resonated with Babaev and Svirepo, given Distillery has already been heading in this direction.

Explains Babaev, “Though there was nothing new to me in the concept, I saw it with different eyes. At Distillery, we’re not 100% command-and-control. The idea of empowering and adapting — that’s what’s actually in our core. I heard some ideas that were pretty interesting about how to implement it and how to go further with it.”

In addition, Svirepo and Babaev attended a presentation by Shane Hastie from the International Consortium for Agile (ICAgile) on using Agile in a distributed team. With five offices globally, Distillery is itself a distributed team, so the topic was of particular interest. “It’s interesting how the practice of using distributed teams has spread out all over the world,” says Svirepo. “Good professionals want to have a choice of where to live, and in the past, physical locations were a limitation for companies in hiring talent. Now we can unite professionals in several offices and give them the opportunity to create cool products while keeping their work-life balance. That means more inspiration and efficiency in their day-to-day jobs.”

Connections that Expand Our Community

Finally, Babaev and Svirepo enjoyed the opportunity to network and share experiences with speakers, business peers, and tech industry luminaries. “It’s always interesting to hear another point of view on the things you’ve experienced together,” says Babaev.

Conferences often foster new relationships that help participants dig deeper into the subject matter. Such was the case with Hastie’s presentation on using Agile in distributed teams. Relates Babaev, “To be able to meet Hastie in person, shake his hand, and ask him questions about his presentation was great. He even offered an opening to ask him questions in the future.”

Business Agility that Supports Business Sustainability

Simply put, “Business Agility” is a business structure’s ability to rapidly respond and adapt to change in productive, cost-effective ways. Though Business Agility is beneficial in any industry, it’s even more crucial for companies competing in the ever-evolving tech space. That’s why Distillery is strongly focused on cultivating and maintaining Business Agility.

Says Babaev, “At Distillery, the ability to adapt is in our DNA. Otherwise, we’re unable to grow, and unable to find our place in the market. So it’s really interesting to understand how close we are to the models they describe, and to look at some of the differences from our current approach.”

By staying Agile, we ensure our place in the future of our industry. We also serve our clients better, by helping them to develop products that can adapt to meet the needs of our changing world.

Want to learn more about how Distillery’s Agile way of doing business supports our clients’ success? Let us know!