Agile business models are pretty much a necessity in today's enterprise world and IT security is certainly no different. In many ways, it's even more dependent on fast, flexible processes thanks to the ever-evolving state of cyber threats. With that in mind, we've come up with three creative hacks to inject a little more agility into your IT environment.
Take Advantage of the Buddy System
The concept of agility in the enterprise world centers around our ability to respond to adversity. Agile organizations simply do it better. This brings us to our first hack: strength in numbers.
IT professionals, for better or worse, have a tendency to lean toward the introverted side of the personality spectrum. We operate as lone wolves much of the time. While this approach is perfectly suitable for simple tasks, more complex endeavors — those more likely to induce adversity — beg for an agile approach. For tickets, deployments and projects of a certain level, implementing a "buddy system" is a great way to increase agility where it's needed most.
The real hack comes into play when assigning team members as partners on a particular task. Keep track of each person's specific areas of strength and expertise — even down to personality traits like in the Myers-Briggs test — and match them such that one person's strength covers another's weakness. In doing so, each partnership will have a diverse set of skills and perspectives to apply when adversity strikes. Agility exemplified.
If responding to adversity is the motivation that drives our pursuit of agility in IT, then demolishing obstacles that prevent flexibility in the workplace is oil for the engine. With modern conveniences that allow us to be productive even with the phones in our pockets, there's no reason to stifle flexibility and collaboration by tethering ourselves to static locations — we're looking at you, cubicle farms.
A recent Forbes article discusses the finer points of maintaining an open workspace to inspire collaboration and facilitate improved agility. Apparently, this strategy works so well that research suggests more than 70 percent of workspaces in the UK will follow suit by 2020. More to the point telecom mogul O2 has experimented with the concept and found that almost half of its employees experienced benefits including decreased stress thanks to their newfound flexibility.
So how does one "open up" their workspace? In a dev world this would simply mean the removal of cubes and "defined" offices. For IT pros that are often on the move, it simply involves providing your team with the necessary tools — mobile devices, wireless coverage, VPN access — to work in the most flexible manner.
The IT profession can be downright burdensome at times. From long hours to late-night emergencies, it's easy to become a little jaded. As that happens, motivation to remain flexible and agile can plummet. In an effort to stave off this complacency and drive agility, all that's needed is a dash of fun every now and then.
You've no doubt seen the growing trend of startups with a young culture deploying game rooms, open bars and karaoke lounges to help their staff blow off some steam. These employee benefits aren't just for entertainment though. By centering them around social collaboration, you can actually inspire agility in your team while reducing stress at the same time.
The Medical Chronicle touches on this concept as it describes the harmful effects of environments that suppress the advancement of ideas. What better way to discuss a brilliant thought than over a friendly match of ping pong or a cold beer! It's this kind of environment that reduces stress, increases collaboration and ultimately sustains agility.
In the end, today's IT professionals are placed under more adversity than ever thanks to the always present threat of cyberattack. Improving agility with increased collaboration, unchained creativity and the freedom to have a little fun can help keep your team in tip-top form.