Cornish business coach shows SMEs how to perform better

By WMNHFinch | Posted: September 17, 2015

Cornwall business coach Belinda Waldock has written a book to help firms become more ‘agile’.

Being Agile in Business is published by Pearson, a leading education publisher.

Belinda, a qualified ILM Coach and Mentor in Business Management and a Computer Science graduate, has worked with small and medium sized businesses across Devon and Cornwall with her methodology designed to increase efficiency in the workplace.

She is also part of the organising committee for Agile on the Beach, held each September in Falmouth, Cornwall. Belinda has helped to develop the conference over the past four years and is a regular speaker sharing her experiences of adopting and using agile beyond the software sector.

She also supports Software Cornwall, a small high growth cluster network of software development companies. Belinda said:

“Being agile might conjure up images of gymnasts able to wriggle their body into all kinds of positions easily, but in this case agile is actually a methodology or tool kit developed by the tech sector to help companies manage projects and their run business efficiently.

”Agile certainly isn’t just for tech businesses, and in fact I have worked with hundreds of local businesses, including toy manufacturers, marketing agencies, breweries and geologists, who have used agile to springboard their growth.” She said that the businesses she has mentored have all launched and grown in uncertain and constantly changing environments.

She said: “Developing a culture of agility has been vital for their success, embracing change, adapting to it and turning uncertainty into opportunity.”

She said that an agile mind set and approach helps to build momentum within the business and release blocks and barriers.

Agile can help add value and free up time for growth and improvement.

She said: “It might sound complicated, but agile is actually a very simple way of testing out new ideas and opportunities quickly, validating their value and viability, and then identifying the best way forward.

“As well as our exciting and thriving local economy, businesses in the South West are increasingly competing in global markets, so agile allows companies to cope with change and operate in a way that makes them as flexible, dynamic and responsive as any other business anywhere in the world.”

Belinda’s top three tips:

1. Focus on value

Wilfredo Pareto an economist in the early 20th century presented a theory that 80% of the value we create comes from 20% of the effort put in. What 20% of activities in the business deliver 80% of the output, which 20% of your customers provide 80% of your business? Identifying this 20% helps to identify who and what creates the most value within the business.

2. Increase visibility

Visualising our work is incredibly powerful for getting things out of our heads, communicating with others, clarifying expectations and understanding different perspectives. Agile mapping is a powerful way of thinking through and rationalising ideas and thoughts, establish the reality and options and create a clear and positive way forward.

Visualising goals, plans and work in progress within a business helps to provide clarity and focus.

3. Continuous improvement

Agile works by integrating change on a regular basis, whether it is driven by internal or external forces. It is a learning-based method and builds continuous improvement into your daily workflow. Work is broken into short sprints with slack built in to allow time to improve and respond to changing circumstances. By tracking our work we can identify the blocks and barriers and work to improve workflow. Agile builds in time to reflect, think, and experiment into the process, providing a structure to make regular, small, iterative improvements.

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