Last updated on February 7th, 2024
Coronavirus pandemic has forced many changes in the way businesses function today. One of the foremost concerns of business owners is to ensure effective leadership management when everyone is working from home. Therefore, the agile mindset of leadership is key to managing the businesses in today’s crisis. Mia Kolmodin shares her experience in a webinar with Designhill. Have a look.
The present COVID crisis has only highlighted the need for effective leadership. But even in the pre-pandemic days, many businesses were struggling up with solving their issues as they lacked true leadership.
As a consequence of ineffective leadership, such businesses often moved away from their target goals. They just could not adjust to meet the new challenges quickly and became directionless. Such businesses typically lacked in an innovative process as well. There are, in fact, several issues with businesses requiring leadership with a purpose and agility.
To deal with the issues, Designhill, a leading creative marketplace, decided to invite Mia Kolmodin to discuss what ails the businesses in terms of leadership. The marketplace conducted a webinar with her on 15th June 2020 on the topic: Agile Mindset and Leadership Management.
Mia Kolmodin is an internationally recognized, agile mindset and leadership trainer. She is the founder of @Dandypeople. During the webinar, she elaborated on what is an agile leadership mindset and how it works for businesses and answered many queries to cover the issue.
Here Is the Video Of The Webinar With Mia Kolmodin
Here Is What Mia Kolmodin Shared About Agile Mindset and Leadership Management
Mia Kolmodin: So, I want to talk about the agile mindset and leadership to navigate the complexities. The world is getting more and more complex. For many people, it might be challenging to understand what they are supposed to do. You don’t need to see the full picture. Or, you might be working very hard on the strategic level, and you don’t understand how to connect to the user. The user is somewhere in the funnel, and you can see the light at the end.
These May Be Some Issues With Your Business, like:
Missing The Target
You may not be organized in a way so that you handle complexity fast and so you are missing the target. That could be something that happens over and over again. You fail a lot and not know if you provide value with what you deliver continuously during the day. And maybe that it feels like it is more important to stick to the contract or what you promised beforehand. So, delivering on a plan is much more critical than taking feedback from customers.
Moving In Different Directions
It may be that you have projects and things moving in different directions, pulling you as an individual towards all directions. If you are involved in too many things, you may not see how this connects to the same vision. It could also be that you are always occupied in meetings. So when are we supposed to be delivering what we are talking about at the time? This is a box that I found at one of my customers, and I started there as my coach. This is the box where they kept improvement and innovation suggestions.
Have No Innovation Process
Of course, if you don’t have an innovation or improvement process that works, then not much is going to happen. Even new players might deliver the value to the users in a better way than you’re doing. The customers will choose someone else instead of you. And it might also be that you, as an individual, and the people working and organization, might feel out of words when you get stressed. This is because you need to shift out over a long time and don’t feel engaged or get burned out and feel sick.
So, why is it like this? What is going on? A lot of times, many people are involved in delivering value. We can say that three people then have three contact lines, five people, 10 contact points, six people, 15, and 10 people, 21 contact points.
But if you work in a project-based organization, you might have success in the bottom 14 people with 91 contact points. If you get involved in many meetings, it’s very difficult to contact that many people all the time. We might not have a focus, so we do a lot of task switching. If we are focused on one thing, only our team, and as individuals, we have 100% focus and deliver 100% value. But if we are involved in five different projects in five different things, only 20% of the time put in is the new value.
The task switching is best. When was the last time you needed to find out the details you may have forgotten? So, this might happen a lot. That happened to me before I started to look at it because I was working at an agency, and I had seven different customers. At the same time, I played different roles of a project manager, I was the UX lead, the art director, and I was coaching everyone to start to work gadgets, which weren’t. This was too much for me. So, I felt useless. I didn’t believe the value.
Grouped In Divisions and Different Areas
We are grouped in divisions, competency areas, and functions, usually in our organization, which means that we want to take ownership of delivering value. But we can take ownership only for that part, which we have competency for, and, as an individual, generally. This means that we should have all of these people delivering together before we see customer value.
We, as individuals or as a group, completely see what those customers are. And, we have a lot of work situations today as well with COVID-19. We don’t sit together with the people that we work with. But we should find ways to collaborate in themselves and work together. Many times we can fix it. Only 5% of people in organizations today understand the vision of where they are going. And you might wonder why sometimes this, of course, it has to do with them. It’s difficult for people to understand and look and see the numbers and faults. There is a big gap between the people doing the work for the customers and creating the strategies.
So, no one sees the big picture and the different roles they can play and take the links to where they want to be. If you can’t see the road, it’s challenging to make smart moves and tactical decisions. Note that the organization is not optimized for speed and flexibility, but control.
This is a 150 years old organization. And of course, we decide and make big plans of funds, budgets for maybe one to five years. These are often fixed. We make sure that we follow this plan and deliver on time. There is usually no way to adapt and change because it’s already been decided.
So, people working full time with customers, learning and interacting with them as they go along actually because we did not change the plan. So this is a big problem. And then, if we want to change the plan, we have probably had to go up in the hurricane orientation and maybe down again. This is very tricky in traditional research.
Take Fast and Flexible Decisions
We can take many measures to fix this problem. First of all, we should make a decision that we don’t want to be this same. We want to be like a shark, which is fast and flexible. We want to take on the challenges that we meet and do it in the best way possible. This is a business decision even though we as an individual won’t want to do this. Then, we need to bring the customer’s focus and not just talk about it.
Involve Everyone In The Work
So, mobilizing the brainpower and organization enables everyone to do the work that needs to be done to deliver value to the customer. Also, always keep in mind what the customer needs. Ask questions like what will happen with the customer to do this, and will it be good for them?
You should enable collaboration and teamwork. Your people should sit together in the same room. If you can’t work in the same room as it is right now, you work from your home. Then you need to find digital ways to make this happen. Use collaboration tools and understand where you are going and what the pain started to want to solve.
Working together helps solve those problems, and it also is a way to figure out what works best. You also get feedback from real customers. You should think of doing usability testing online instead of face to face interaction. So, you need to shift towards solving the problem and working together as a team even though it’s online. The user should adopt the system.
Decide How The User Should Interact
So, you have the mandate, the power, and the knowledge to decide what should be done and how the user should interact with your system. We know what the customer needs, and we have experts to decide that. If you move up and have development-based UX, focus more on delivering what’s already been planned. You might make the big plans, and then add some nice looking designs on top of it. But there is no need to change the plan based on new learnings,
8 Steps To Gaining Customer Focus
Step 1- UX Hostility
The first step to achieving customer focus is to put in place an effective UX system. Users should adopt the system. You should be the expert who knows what the users need.
Step 2- Development Based UX
The second step to take is the development based UX. This implies an interest in the UX, but you focus on delivering what has already been ordered.
Step 3- UX Guerrilla Style
At this stage, you do sporadic UX activities to meet the customer and get feedback on something that we have already done and plan. But it is challenging to make strategic decisions based on this and use the learnings at a bigger scale.
Step 4- UX Part Of The Budget
The fourth step is when the UX work is more organized, but the coordination level is low.
Step 5- Organized UX Work
Then, as step five, we have organized UX work, where you access a competency, and we try to have that in all teams wherever it’s needed. Usually, it’s needed quite heavily across the organization. And we might get our UX force, customer interaction, customer experience lead, coaching, and supporting.
Step 6- Systematic CX Processes
And when we are on step number six, one might say that we have systematic CX processes, [customer experience processes], which is formalized and highly prioritized. So this is something that they spent time and money on. To actually enable this across to the session, it has to do with the business strategy.
Step 7- Integrated CX
And then, step number seven, we have integrated customer experience, all teams have permissions and work the service assign. And it plays a key role in everything that we do. The system software organization instruction in everything we do supports self-service and the sun and customer experience. And this is something that I will share like in the presentation.
Step 8- Customer Experience Permeates Everything
And then, you take step number eight, which is that you have a customer experience that permeates everything. At this stage, the organization is run with customer experience focus. This is where you take in the customer’s view and everything that you do; you organize around the customer. You make sure that you deliver value instead of doing handovers. Other things that might not deliver value to the customer service is something that I will show later in the situation.
Create An Organization Fit for The 21st Century
So, we need to create an organization that fits the 21st century, where we keep the customer focus. But we also use the brainpower of the people in the organization to solve the customer’s problems, not worth focusing on the internal processes and dependencies and politics, instead focus on the customer. Of course, we should shift our teams, our leadership, and we need to be efficient. So agile and customer focus is a business strategy. This needs to be something that executives and leaders should work with and deliver across the organization.
We will talk a little bit about business agility. How can executives and leaders support this assertion? There are some crucial things to remember when determining business agility.
Shift Focus from Ownership to Customers
So first, we need to shift from the ownership for Which is a short term focus to customer focus. This is a shift in this domain. If you have a customer focus, you will get good results in the organization, and you need support to do that work. But if you focus on the ownership purpose, you’re never going to get toward that.
Share Your Vision
You need to go away from detailing your yearly budget and shift to sharing your purpose and vision. People will get engaged with that and want to work with you.
Focus on Trust
Another shift you should make is regarding the trust factor. You should move from focusing on control to concentrate on trust. Build teams and organizations where people can innovate and test things and see what they need to say to make things happen. And make sure that you always work with the customer and focus on learning as it is what’s going to bring you forward. Also, you need to bring money into your everyday work.
Focus on Resource Flow Optimization
You should be moving from a focus on resource optimization to focus on flow optimization. So getting things out to the customer as soon as possible is what matters because you’re going to get feedback on stuff you’ve done. That is when you get the learning. Therefore, optimize everything in your organization for flow.
Shift To Data-driven Decisions
You should then move from detailed decisions that you may make too early, or by the wrong people, to data-driven decisions, made autonomous entities. So, make sure that you move your decisions down as much as possible. And then that enables everyone to have the data available so that they can make the right decisions.
Leadership For Agility
Let’s talk a little bit about leadership agility.
● Leading with a vision and creating leaders:As a leader, you should have the vision and help create leaders, which is crucial.
● Actively support change initiatives: When something needs to happen, maybe you have a conflict, and you have something that’s not working, you should adapt to change that. Make sure that people are working closest to what needs to change their support. Instead of having someone do it for them, support them to do the job.
● Empowering employees and teams: You should empower your teams to help them do what is most important for the organization and for the customer.
● Create a safe to fail the environment: Ensure that you build this safe to fail environment so that people can be themselves where they can work together. The same needs to be said and focused on delivering value.
● Optimizing the whole system and removing impediments: Leaders and managers need to fix the system and not the people.
● Prioritize sustainable change: It may be that not too many things are going on at the same time for your organization. So, focus on the most important things and focus on that instead.
● Enable that insight leads to action quickly: When I have worked as a UX or UX manager, I come across many learnings and understandings about the service space from the UX team or the designer because there’s no one there to take action on these things. It is learning that we have, and we need to enable that to happen continuously. That’s why we shouldn’t push data and allow people to learn and ask them to move along and make decisions.
Have Cross-functional Teams
So, if we can set a cross-functional team’s mission, we can help them solve problems. We start by saying that we need to have a mission for the team. What does cross-functional mean to me? It means that we have the people with the skills that we need.
Anyone who is needed, such as some UX designer, developer, awesome people with those skills, needs to be in the team to enable us to become t shaped people. So that means that we have one focus.
Team Mission and Opportunity
But we should also develop and learn other things. In that way, we can collaborate with others on the team. It brings value if I can help and do other things as well. So, all the things that need to be done between we all have work to do matter. And that might be that other people and myself also learn to do some design tasks. Also, learn to do usability test things.
We should have tools for the mission and opportunity map to prioritize the processes. Instead of working with a detailed backlog, we focus on prioritizing 100 processes that we need to improve on our mission. And when we have that hypothesis, we start to learn more as a T.
Discovery and Delivery
And we will do discovery and delivery in the team continuously. We should continue to work and learn more about the user prototypes, testing, learning, and delivery teams.
We can make data-driven decisions. So we can meet the customer and do AB testing, we do a lot of different things. This should be done to get data around customer behavior, and what is working and make decisions.
Create One Business One Organization
We should move toward one business, one organization. So, having the business is all about the cost, and business has the money, and it makes all the decisions. We might start with actually creating this x kind of thing, which becomes a shark. This is because we believe that’s the only way to make us quick again.
But instead, if we can just bring the whole organization in and become quick together. That will help us also in the future. Our organization is based on who our customers are and what we need to do to help us bring the whole organization into the future and accelerate it to move fast.
How to connect teams to the customer?
So, I’m going to give you a couple of examples of connecting teams to the customer.
Let’s say we have a customer journey with customers moving across using our products and services. Then, we can put teams to take responsibility for different parts of the customer journey. We can also have teams that take responsibility for different products as part of something that buys. This is because the journey is like the waves where all customers go through, and you want to have a good user experience across all different steps, contact points, and touchpoints.
Autonomy and Alignment
So, it is the whole customer journey as such, and we take responsibility as teams. In such an organization, you might want to have autonomy and alignment. Autonomy means that our teams can move and make decisions by themselves. We live by value. And, alignment means that we understand what others are doing.
And we know where we are going as an organization together with audit teams, aligner plans, and accounting. We know that as an individual, we have a hundred percent time. It just depends on what you want to do with that. Instead of doing task switching and five things, you might say that you have a company that’s to spend fostering solutions. This means that we need to help out to deliver, and this might be a deadline.
If we create missions for teams, we give them the assignment to take care of a part of the customer journey, getting more customers in once they start to onboard. They also begin to use our products, which sets the target for how many customers we want actually to get started using their products. That could be a mission to create autonomy for teams to innovate and to learn continuously.
Support Other Teams
And then, of course, teams also need to help other teams. This is something that many people forget. As a team-based organization, you need to collaborate and work with other teams. So when the time comes to take work from other teams and help them, and sometimes the volunteer assignments and mission deadlines are much more important than hours, then, we need to help them. After all, we work as an organization to help our customers. Think of using some tools such as Excel Assignment Help to collaborate with your team members and share their ideas.
And then we need to take care of what we deliver, keeping the lights on. So that’s something that all teams do as well, instead of handing over something that we did to the innovation team or something to someone else to, to have the maintenance on, do the maintenance continuously in our team, which makes us do it.
Much better quality will take care of our services and our customers. Ongoing continuous disgrace and much more value-focused and flow-based organizations are continuously working to improve.
These are things that you can keep in mind that if you’re practicing and helping us deliver value as teams and as an organization.
Create Service Teams To Support Scaling
We should create service teams, which support all the rest of their teams. So, we have a design ops team with a mission to support all other teams, when it comes to this line and the user experience, work, and doing some research on it.
It might be I’m thinking the same framework, but this enables everyone else to work with the same. In this way, you can help a lot to get the bits of that competency across the teams instead of saying that we need to do their work.
So, we will move back to this one where we see four different teams, and they have varied roles. The team needs to have the competencies to deliver on the mission. It might look different in different teams. Some teams need web analysis, some might need to sign people, or sometimes they make new content.
Therefore, we have to focus and see all of our team’s things taking ownership. It might be that people in our team are interested in learning more about UX design. We need that special competency in our team. And if the design ops team helps our teams grow this capability, we might not need the team specialist.
A Real Example
We have some real examples from organizations. This is a FinTech organization in Sweden called Avanza, a customer-focused new organization and based on the customer journey. So, we talk to people to break down the silos as it was the management from IT products, operations, and marketing, who came together as a leadership team. They said they want to do this because they had project owners and managers who were just so stressed that they’re just doing handoffs to different internal teams.
And they were not delivering any value at all as they could not focus on the customer. So they want to do something to change this. We help them set the same principles for the organization. So how should it feel to the organization, so one thing was that all teams should understand and serve? Everyone in the team should know why they’re doing.
So they had six principles, and then they evaluated the different types of teams and organizations based on some training that they did.
They found that the way they were working, then it was really bad. You can see that on the top white image. And they chose to work in the customer-based organization with cross-functional teams instead because they could evaluate these principles.
Different things that are usually delivered would be much, much better fit for them. And then they also visualize the T shape and all the people and the creative missions for teams and pitch the missions for the teams, and before going shows which team they want to sit in, and they get two rounds like that in about two hours.
We created a copy of the teams. I think it was five new teams the first time, so that’s the self-selection. And they made sure that they had our competency in all teams and brought that up continuously.
Designhill: Can you explain more about the opportunity map?
Mia Kolmodin: It is about looking at opportunities that you have to improve for the customer business based on the mission that you’re having in a team. Instead of having everything already put into details in the backlog, you look at this more as an impact. Not familiar with that term, but you have a mission, and you have different things that you think might help improve on that mission.
It could be for a specific customer; it could be on a particular point of touch or doing something to produce. So, just look at the hypothesis and what will help you move forward. Then, you should prioritize based on that and start to deliver on those routines for us. Apply the same thing back methods and prototyping testing to see if your hypothesis was true or not.
Opportunity Map To Track The Customer Journey
So this was the way of working that these people have also had in the 80s. They had opportunity maps, worked with T shape, and had teams of up to 10 to 11 people, the Scrum master programmers, UX people, designers, developers for all different touchpoints. If they work as a customer journey team, they take responsibility for the touchpoints in that product. They need people with new skills to join the team. And of course, then they have to work with supporting the team maturing to become high performing, which is super important.
And this is another picture of the meetup. They wanted the teams to feel like startups, which is what you got when you did get the mandate and the teams’ quality to make actual business decisions based on customer feedback.
This is one of the people working in the space saying that it feels like a new startup, we know where we’re going to decide in our team and what to work on. And this is another team that’s also an agile mission. These are the people in between there in the Swedish preview organization. And to see here also, it’s a lot of pitfalls. These things get a little bit bigger. And those who have involved people from the organization have journalists in the team that rotates into the team on a sprint basis for four weeks, and then they move out, and someone else comes in.
And then, we have two people working with web analytics. Additionally, we have a designer contributing to the overall picture, an iOS developer, a back-end developer, and Scrum aiming to be an end developer. There are various types of competencies involved in this collaborative effort. Together, they took responsibility for increasing the listening time across all webinar platforms, ensuring that the content resonates effectively. This initiative aligns seamlessly with our focus on delivering valuable and engaging content, making each session an evergreen webinar — a rich source of knowledge for our audience.
So, many research for the users, usability testing, prototyping, and continuously releasing all different platforms and measuring the results. Overall, it is working as a team.
Designhill: Define what agile means and its benefit to the project industry and how to adapt?
Mia Kolmodin: I would say agile is about a mindset that you focus on delivering value. Often, when you collaborate, you need to be able to adapt to trusting people and helping people out. It is a core mindset, and if you work agile and then you minimize risks by changing the plan and getting the volume.
Designhill: How do you acquire an employee with an agile mindset when you aren’t subordinate?
Mia Kolmodin: It’s all about the actions, how we live our lives, and what we do. And we will reflect and improve as individuals. It is about acting as a leader and being good to people and truthful to yourself.
Designhill: How do I motivate a team that works remotely in the global situation that can sometimes disconnect them?
Mia Kolmodin: How can I motivate people when working and distribute remotely? Everyone is doing that these days. So, of course, it can be tough sometimes. But I think it is about working with a social glue, getting to know the people that you work with, treat them as a team, and support them to grow and continue to stay and facilitate collaboration.
I think that is key, and helping everyone understand why they are doing what they are doing. So, work with the purpose. You have to work with these things. Don’t try to meet because you meet online, and we need each other to give value? No one can do that assignment. That will never happen in this world today.
Designhill: How to introduce an agility mindset in an organization from scratch?
Mia Kolmodin: Well, usually you work with tools and practices, in the beginning, to start work. Starting to work in Scrum is an excellent way because it’s a secure framework to get started with, even though it’s quite tricky to master.
But it’s really good to start with something like that and work together with your team to build it further. Then, continue once you see that things are working, spread the mindsets and the values and the principles across the organization, and help people adapt their way over here.
Designhill: How to work with the new generation?
Mia Kolmodin: I think you should trust them and give them space to learn and listen to work with the new generation. I think they have a lot of things to bring to any organization or team, of course. A 25-year-old has helped me with my websites on WordPress, and he’s just googling everything and looking on YouTube, just handling everything which I have no clue how to do.
Even though I set up a WordPress site, I often open WordPress for Like 15 years, but he learns in two seconds. So, give them the assignments and help them to grow. They are going to realize this.
Designhill: How do you combine the result of the company with the team’s well-being, that the team should stay well, and the result should come to the expected level balancing?
Mia Kolmodin: You can do it by balancing the value for the company, the value with the results that you want for their organization. So, I didn’t have that in my presentation here, but we talked about transformational leadership. If you grow people and you’ve removed the structures hidden in them to deliver value, your business will grow.
So, you should always focus on growth and that people help them improve and remove the hinders that hinder them from usually working with people in other sizes. You should bring them to a team and make them high performing and give them something important to do, then your business is valuable.
Designhill: How should we establish a connection without physically being present?
Mia Kolmodin: A meeting notice on video usually is a good thing. You may also be using collaboration tools. We use Mural a lot. And maybe playing games online is a good way to connect and socialize. So, I think you should do that as much as you can. And try to do multiple works as designers and developers, etc. together.
Designhill: What particular mindset is expected of the leader, and what do you think of growth mindsets?
Mia Kolmodin: Hello, how can a guy be incorporated? I would say getting the executives on board as quickly as possible helps because they are the ones who have to change the way of thinking and doing things to enable the rest of the organization to work agile. But if you can’t get on board, get people you need to collaborate with, and sit with him.
Like when I started to work as a designer, I was seated in the designer’s room with everyone doing design on different projects. And it took me I don’t know, a couple of months before I realized I couldn’t sit here because they don’t work with the other designers or work with the developers. So I took my computer and sat side by side on a small desk with one notable person, we had our first team.
You should try to import the executives if you can and show them that you bring value and the customers are excited about what you do. If you can do that, then, of course, they will listen to you.
Designhill: What are the challenges that you encountered with leaders before embracing the agile mindset?
Mia Kolmodin: There are a lot of challenges, mostly with middle management. This is because they get pushed from the top where the executives want to implement agile and maybe from underneath where we have teams, and people want to work agile. So, they are usually in a challenging situation. They need to understand how they can support and work in an agile way to help them grow this understanding and their capabilities.
Otherwise, the leaders might be afraid and want to stop whatever someone has done. This is because they may understand how they can walk away. So fear is something that you might see. And of course, that they might also just not get involved at all. They stare outside, they don’t help the teams, or they say that you guys are self-organized. So they don’t help the team and support them. They need to do that because people are self-organized, but they need support to do things. They should focus on delivering value to the customer.
Designhill: Can you please elaborate on the tone T-shaped people?
Mia Kolmodin: T-shaped is something that we’ll talk about often because it’s important. It implies that we can work in a cross-functional team, then we need to have more than just our US Pacific competency.
So, I have a design background. But I have also learned a little bit of WordPress, this and that and how to do videos, and leadership. So I have grown a big T-shape, you could say. That is what everyone needs to do and try to grow the things that you are interested in, something that you have intrinsic motivation. You do it and not think about it just fitting into the box.
So, you move outside of the box to help the team to deliver value. You could then visualize your T shape with things that you are good enough at, or things that you can help others to do. Things that you are good enough to do yourself.
These were the major points that your business should take note of while dealing with its leadership issues. Make sure that you have learned the intricacies of developing leadership in the changing times.
Leadership is all about adapting to changing times and challenges. Such an agile mindset and leadership management is crucial to the growth of a business. It can, then, create purposeful leadership within an organization. Mia Kolmodin emphasizes to ensure customer focus, building trust, sharing of vision, and making data-driven decisions.