Are You “Old School”? 5 Ways to Become Agile
1. Think about your current M&A process
2. Get to Know Your Team
3. Establish Accountability and Trust
4. Start Daily Standup Meetings
5. Continuous Innovation
Are you an “old school” M&A practitioner?
Being “old school” means that maybe you are holding on to traditional practices, because they work for you. These methods are tried and true, and have been proven over the years. However, there are many new ways in which to approach the M&A process. Many of these approaches involve technology, or methodologies that can help speed the process along, while also being more efficient. Although there is a learning curve that is associated with any new process, this is minimal in comparison to the overall benefits that these practices can create.
Being old school in M&A might mean that you are overly reliant on Excel spreadsheets, email, phone calls and weekly meetings. Or it might mean that you do not have a centralized platform, or that you do not use current technology, which can help you streamline this often cumbersome process.
Your deal status is reviewed weekly through meetings with your teams, where potential problems are identified and addressed, assignments are given, and any other areas of concern are discussed, and hopefully, proactively addressed. This has worked for you, for years. Why change something that is working well?
However, what will transition you from an “old-school practitioner” to a “modern M&A practitioner” is not difficult, nor is it new.
It is a time-tested methodology called Agile that has been tweaked and improved over the years. Agile has been proven as an effective tool that can transform a company from a poorly performing company to one that can function at a high level and be very productive. Companies spanning various industries have adopted and implemented this methodology successfully, resulting in the optimization of time, effort and capacity to improve enterprise effectiveness.
Commonly thought to be a methodology restricted to the technology world, Agile project management can be implemented at almost any type of company. The benefits of becoming Agile means that you have clearly defined roles, project visibility, clear communication and overall accountability. This can be done in five steps.
1. Take time to think about where you and your M&A practice group are right now
What is your current state?
- Is your team where you would like it to be?
- Do you work together well?
- Are there defined roles for your team?
- Are there defined goals for your team?
- Is there overlap in work?
After asking yourself these questions and really defining what your current state is, and also taking into consideration where you would like to be, you have an honest assessment of the current state of your group and working style. Part of this is also assessing what your workload is, how heavy it may be, and also how the workload is handled; is there a backlog of work that needs to be done?
2. Get to know your team, its limitations and positive attributes
Step two means establishing a solid governance of your teams and work streams. Does each work stream have a leader? Also, is there a leader that oversees all activity? Do the leaders know what is going on at all times, do they have that transparency in knowing what is happening with their work stream, what people are working on, what people are stuck on, or where they may need help?
Part of being Agile, and implementing an Agile methodology, is establishing a solid workflow, having visibility of the project as a whole, including all the workstreams, above all else. This way, if there are problems, these problems are addressed immediately and are not left to fester or compound over time. Projects are run seamlessly, and there is no duplicate work; everyone is productive and accountable for their own projects. After you get to know your team, you can identify where you would like to be.
3. Establish accountability and trust
Accountability means that employees have clearly defined roles and responsibilities, and they know that they are held accountable to complete a task or activity. With this comes the fact that each person is trusted and responsible for letting their group know if they have an issue completing a task; any challenge needs to be addressed with the group and group leader.
Everyone has visibility into each others’ deliverables. If a task is not completed, the employee is fully accountable as to why the task was not completed, and why he/she did not seek help early on with his/her team.
4. Start daily standup meetings
In a meeting-heavy corporate culture, many people are resistant to adding more meetings. However, the creators of Agile were just as meeting-adverse, and they encourage the day to begin with one meeting, called a “standup” meeting, at the same time every morning to check in.
The purpose of the meeting is simple: each employee stands up and gives a quick status of their project, what they did yesterday, what they plan on doing today, and any roadblocks where they may need help from others. This meeting should take about 15 minutes to complete, and it gives complete transparency to everyone in the project; roadblocks are addressed in real-time, and then everyone is free to continue working for the rest of the day.
5. Continuous innovation
Putting Agile in place initially may be challenging, as it takes some work to gain employee buy-in, and to also ensure that employees understand and are following the Agile methodology. However, being Agile becomes simpler over time, and has the advantage of encouraging continuous innovation in a company. After every project is finished, employees are encouraged to take a step back and examine the work they did.
Questions that should be asked:
- What worked really well?
- What did not work so well?
- What could we do better next time?
- Is there anything we would definitely do again?
Asking these questions will help improve the process for the next project. It will foster and support continuous innovation over the life of the company. Instead of always doing what you have always done, it provides a proactive approach to project management, in a continuously evolving manner.
Once you have become Agile, you will find that managing projects is far easier, work is reduced, and duplicate work and stress are reduced as well. Although it may take the initial investment of time and effort, why not try something that will make you and your company run better?
Try Agile M&A today, and move from being “old school” to become a modern M&A practitioner.