Dhiraj Mukherjee on The Lean Mean Big Company Machine

12 Sep

by mark-appleton 12.09.12

Dhiraj Mukherjee is one of the founders of Shazam. In between consulting for multinational Infosys, contributing to Forbes, and staying involved with Shazam, he managed to find time to spend the afternoon with us last Friday to talk about his experience introducing Agile-like work methods, outside the field of technology, in large corporate environments.

Small companies are nimble and quick to respond to change; big companies can be lumbering giants, slow to move even when survival is at stake. Nowadays, with the pace of change in technology, the need for speed and adaptability is at a premium in companies of all shapes and sizes. Mukherjee walked us through some thoughts and ideas about how to achieve this in large companies, illustrating his presentation with examples from a recent work on a new social business media platform in a large financial services organisation.

When rolling out new ideas – especially those which will drive change in an organisation or a business – one can expect to run into issues and challenges such as:

  •  Unclear benefits to the business
  • Lack of ownership
  • Shortage of funding
  • Limited team resources
  • Legal issues

These are common to many very large organisations; and are often embedded in the hierarchy, which makes it doubly challenging.

A traditional (and more familiar) Waterfall approach to the roll-out of new products and systems is easier to sell, but regrettably often leads to failure. Instead, Mukherjee is championing some of the methods and principles of Agile software development – but applying outside the software development life cycle – and finding success.

In his presentation, he talked about his experience integrating:

  • Workstreams
  • Two-week sprints
  • Daily stand-up meetings
  • Minimal documentation
  • Iterative review and repeat

It has been an exciting process. Despite initial hesitation from business stakeholders unfamiliar with “pivoting” with the speed required by an Agile-like methodology, Mukherjee tells us they are starting to enjoy it; and to see the advantages. It hasn’t hurt that, of all the programmes like this, Mukherjee’s is the one of the fastest-growing initiatives at the bank.. This can be traced directly to the “lean” processes and methods used by his team.

Can Agile work in a non-software environment? Can it be adapted to successfully drive change in large businesses and organisations? Mukherjee’s experience so far would suggest that it can.


Tags: knowledge share design agile design strategy

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