Why Research Teams Should Drive Agile Transformations

Name any business function, and there’s a near-guarantee it’s on a quest to be more agile. The promise often repeated is simple, if not obvious at this point: agile is synonymous with working faster and smarter when the stakes are high, the path is uncertain, or the cost of a wrong decision too steep.

Agile is a way to be more responsive to internal and external stakeholders and act as a guardrail when making large investments or big bets. After all, if you’re launching a new venture, you want to make sure you’re addressing the needs of your target market (your external stakeholders) and limiting initial investment (or big bets) until you have some degree of validation or traction.

While this is a logical business case for adopting agile methodologies, it doesn't take into account the true value of agile: increased frequency of learning. After all, the more we learn, the more likely we are to arrive at actual insights — and the better decisions we make. When we learn what our customers want, we can be more responsive to their needs, and align investment to satisfying those needs.

Consequently, if we implement agile without a focus on learning, then we mitigate — or even eliminate — the upside of agile. Which begs the question: How can agile be implemented with a focus on learning, so the evolving needs of all organizational stakeholders are addressed?

Typically, agile transformations at large organizations are driven out of either the software, product, innovation or digital functions. But corporate researchers and insights professionals, which exist in almost every organization, are more closely aligned with disseminating market learning across an organization and are perfectly positioned to drive new ways of working and learning and co-create the future state of research.

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