Management gurus have been preaching for years that Scrum and Agile are the best methods to get work done in large enterprises.

These days that notion almost goes unchallenged, and leaders race to set up their organizations in such agile/scrum fashion in order to be successful.

But is that really the right setup for your firm, and should we totally forget the good-old individual work?

Alessandro Di Fiore and Robert Greene from our ECSI team have been looking a bit deeper into this question of “Scrum vs Lone Wolf” as part of their research.

What the ECSI research revealed is that more than 60% of all work tasks are performed, and will continue to be better performed, by individuals at most businesses today – particularly those organizations that do not operate under project-based models.  At any one time, therefore, most employees are likely to be doing individual work.  And these tasks, while often repetitive and routine in nature, can be core to the business.

Our team’s research has revealed four principal levers that boost employee engagement and speed of decision-making and execution in core-but-routine tasks where individual work is best suited:

  1. Provide data to the mass of employees

Recent research demonstrates that business value does not necessarily correlate with the number of centralized data scientists a company hires.  Rather, it is the data management process that drives most economic value – in particular, the organization’s ability to integrate data across the firm, and enable a wide range of employees to access and understand it at the right time.

  1. Foster qualitative judgment skills

The ironic reality is that, as the supply of Big Data and AI increase, so does the demand for qualitative judgment – i.e. the ability to make a decision based on a personal interpretation of the context and available facts. Explicitly embracing this, organizations should train employees on standardized tools, methods, and techniques to generate insights and apply judgement.

  1. Democratize judgement and decision-making power

Many companies implicitly believe that decisions, especially those relating to market and innovation, are best left to a few “highly qualified” professionals in the organization.  Only the elite are entitled to develop new ideas and make important decisions, and opportunities and value suffer.  Instead, organizations should push risk-managed processes down to the lowest levels.

Loosen the reins of control

The control model at most organizations today is preventative in nature, and based on pre-authorizations and strict compliance with policies and procedures.  This systematically undermines agility, even if inadvertently.  A different model is necessary to make empowerment and agility possible, with a well designed “constitution” and social control that manage risks.

All of our insights about going beyond scrum can be read in our recent article in HR Professional Magazine.