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The Need For Speed: How Being Nimble Helps

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These days, everything in the world has to be fast. Contactless cards save people seconds at the till; internet speeds increase all the time so that people can access the web quicker; data, and the insights it affords, has accelerated business decision making.

New Ways Of Working

The need to get ‘stuff’ to market, fast, has resulted in the evolution of Agile methodologies, which enable its followers to respond and react quickly to business questions and priorities. Agile teams run shorter, time-boxed cycles of work, called Sprints, which deliver rapid developments based on a prioritised shortlist of business questions.

For forward-looking firms, the classic “waterfall” approach – where a very large project scope is defined and then fixed and delivered over a period of months or even years – has effectively disappeared.

These new, nimble, behaviours have been transformative. But although this Agile revolution appears complete for digital development and build teams, it doesn’t appear to have influenced as many practices within the realms of Insight and Research.

Agile Analysis

Many still think “waterfall” when they think of insight; where analysis, and its resulting intelligence, have their own predefined and unmoving timescales (often on an annual pattern), which struggle to adapt or respond to changing business demands.

It is true that Insight functions provide important analyses for cyclical events, like peak trading periods, or for annual reports in which timescales can be known months in advance, and indeed for work scheduled in a waterfall method.

But I was surprised when, speaking to an analyst from a world-renowned research and insight consultancy last year, she said (with a mixture of respect and incredulity) that she had never heard of a consultancy that worked in an Agile way.

Sprint To The Finish

Many of us at Station10 come from optimisation and business improvement backgrounds – so our philosophy finds its roots in Agile. Our commitment to this kind of nimble working means that we run what we call ‘Insight Sprints’, in which we look to answer a shortlist of specific questions that the business needs to solve. This ensures that business and optimisation teams get regular, up-to-date insights into how customers behave in time for them to amend or adapt business processes to meet demand.

The length of these Sprints can vary but they often last two weeks. In this time we look to answer the sort of deep-dive questions that the business is unable to tackle through its normal level of reporting.

Insight Sprints can also very effectively deliver insight for cyclical events, since these can easily be prioritised on the list of questions – referred to as an Insight Backlog. But the difference between this kind of approach and that of the “waterfall’ is that

Agile enables us to answer the business questions that are most relevant at that time – rather than tackle issues that were important months ago.

For us, as a consultancy, working with clients using a Sprint methodology is highly rewarding. It enables us to empower them with immediate answers to questions they need to solve now. They can then be more effective with their development and marketing programs.

Make The Change

For several of our clients this way of working has been so successful that we are now helping them to adopt Insight Sprint methodologies for themselves and embed them into their own working practices.

If you want to learn more about how to get customer-focused insights, rapidly, please get in touch and we can show you how it works.

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