Case Study

Stay Agile to Ensure Value is Delivered

Lack of focus on an organisation’s real priorities when delegating workload is a common problem. It results in multi-tasking, leading to employee burnout, and ultimately, a diminished value output. Check how your organisation can avoid this challenge.

Graeme Doyle

Lack of focus on an organisation’s real priorities when delegating workload is a common problem. It results in multi-tasking, leading to employee burnout, and ultimately, a diminished value output. How can your organisation avoid this challenge?

Graeme Doyle at Meirik, explains the foundations of Agile training.

If you could change one thing tomorrow about your organisation, what would it be?

This is the fundamental question I ask companies to help them improve. Identifying just ‘one thing’ is crucial. Trying to resolve multiple challenges at once typically means failure in fully resolving any of them.

Too many times, high-level management’s response to the ‘one change’ question is: to go faster.

On the face of it, this seems reasonable. ‘Going faster’ means speeding up time to market, enabling an organisation to capitalise on new opportunities ahead of the competitors.

The challenge of external factors

But there’s a problem with the goal of ‘going faster’: most of the factors affecting time to market are external to the teams involved. Consequently, these factors are beyond their control.

We’re talking about things like ensuring the right budget and resources, or prioritising objectives at senior level, through to flow management, legacy systems, and third-party development. The list goes on.

Ultimately, ‘going faster’ isn’t an objective: it’s a secondary effect. It’s something that happens automatically if you start to do a select number of things well. And that starts with one thing:


I've seen too many transformation plans come to little because of multi-tasking. The staff can’t do the work because the workload is too much.

Priorities and Agile ways of working

Often, this involves work that isn’t even associated with their initial job role. We call this ‘multi-hatting’. The problem is that most of the work they’re doing is unrelated to the overall value the organisation is trying to deliver.

The simple reality is this: the less amount of work we have, the faster we go, and the higher the value that is achieved for the tasks we can work on. This is a foundation of Agile training, which focuses on completing a selected number of high-priority tasks to ensure that the most valuable work is completed.

Are your people working this way? This is one of the most important questions that many companies fail to ask themselves.

How is the trap of a multi-tasking environment created? This extra work – either too much work, or work that’s not related to the main priorities – is handed down by management without sufficient consideration of its dangers.

For the team members who take on these extra tasks, there’s a reason why they accept them: the fear of saying NO. There are various reasons for this, from protecting job security, through to the impact on career trajectory.

Lack of focus on priorities

In these situations, the real work that should get done is often forgotten. For the staff on the receiving end, inability to complete the workload leads to lower job satisfaction. Over time, usually what follows is a lack of effort, and this will have significant consequences on the value the employee provides.

The backlog of unfinished or lower quality work becomes serious for the company’s prospects when these projects directly affect the client. Often, uncompleted work goes unchecked by the managers handing it down, because in a culture like this, their priority is to look up the ladder and see the problems about to be handed down.

When things start to fail, the true cause-effect is seldom looked for. Even if the cause comes into view, it’s usually brushed under the carpet.

There are also devastating consequences for personal wellbeing. Too much work will cause employee overload – to find out more about how to avoid it in your organisation, tune in to this discussion. Overload will also create the kind of ambition that you don’t want in your organisation: the desire for a new employer.

Overload in real life

In one particular company, I asked employees to state three goals they wanted to achieve in the space of a week. At the end of the week, we looked at each goal to see if they had been completed. If they were unfinished, what was the reason?

At the week’s end, not one member of the seven-person team had completed all three goals. In fact, on average, the team had actually completed only half of their stated goals. Why?

I asked each member of the team. The top reasons they collectively gave were:

  • Not enough time due to responsibilities in other roles.
  • Demand of non-related work.
  • Dependence on people external to the team.

Overload of meetings was the fourth-ranked answer.

If any of this sounds familiar at your organisation, how can you resolve it?

Support your teams to focus

It’s simple: you employ people to do the job they are paid to do, giving them an environment where they can perform work that aligns to the business objectives. You need to ensure the people in the organisation achieve work that’s related to value. This applies to your company across all levels.

Improving time-to-market doesn’t start at the individual, or even the team level. It starts above that. It starts at senior management and cascades down. It's about being able to identify true value as soon as possible, and then support your teams to achieve tasks which only contribute to that value.

You can't do too many things all at the same time. It's impossible. You can only do what you have the time and resources to do.

The environment for transformation

Often in organisational management, it's the simplest things that make the biggest difference. In any strategy of transformation, you need to make sure that your people have the time and resources to carry out the objectives you have passed down to them. If not, change can’t take place.

If you want transformational change, you need to set the environment. This means a commitment from high-level management to promote a culture of continuous improvement. It’s your people who will make this improvement for you. To achieve it, they need to be set up so they can deliver true value, and this means ensuring they aren’t working on unrelated tasks.

Only this way can you go faster.

Will you make an Agile transformation?

Has this article inspired you to learn more with Agile training and start making a transformation in your organisation? If so, put the next step into action: get Agile certification and see what’s included in Meirik’s Agile course.

Got questions?