You’ve heard of “agile development,” right? It’s been used to great success in Silicon Valley and start-up culture, where the ability to expedite decisions and get products to market is prized beyond just about everything else. Agile development is predicated on the idea that it’s not just a “good” idea to move quickly; it’s life or death for your business.
The goal of the agile method being that you do shorter, faster loops rather than the long way around via slow, bottleneck-prone, top-down thinking. Teams can reexamine their priorities and adapt goals and tactics on the fly, depending on what’s important now. In other words, goals are based around short dashes that get faster results.
You can see why you need this.
How to shift into high gear
But because agile development removes the delay of running every decision up the chain, there’s a mental shift you need to make in order to use the approach well with your sales team. Essentially, says entrepreneur and Forbes.com columnist Geri Stengel, you’re figuring out how to learn from experience and act on it without getting stuck in routines and habits. And let’s face it, that’s easier said than done.
To do this, Stengel writes, you need to be comfortable “with vague or contradictory information.” You may not have complete certainty about a client, or marketshare, or ROI; in fact, two of your sales team might have opposing takes on a situation. But rather than come to a standstill (or a standoff), the idea behind agile development is that you don’t prevent opposition, but you learn to be okay with the uncertainty, make solid decisions in the face of it, and lead your team to success faster than if you waited for complete certainty (or your VP’s sign-off on every tactic).
Stengel identifies two more core mental shifts for agile development here.