Transforming Team Dynamics: How a Legal Service Provider Achieved Business Agility

Discover how an online legal service provider transformed its operations and culture through the implementation of the Flight Levels system, enhancing collaboration, reducing technical outages, and fostering continuous improvement. Read about their journey to agile mastery and the lasting impact on their business.
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Nine years ago, a promising venture in the online legal services sector embarked on an ambitious journey. This company swiftly reached profitability within its first year and saw rapid expansion, with its workforce growing from 50 to 350 people in just three years. However, with this growth came significant challenges: the smooth operations once enjoyed were now bogged down by inefficiencies, and the company’s relentless push for new features started to strain its systems. It became evident that without a transformative approach, the company’s progress and quality of service would suffer.

 

The Wake-Up Call

As the company grappled with frequent technical outages and a growing backlog of tasks, the leadership recognised a need for change. This led them to the Flight Levels system, an approach designed to enhance business agility through improved collaboration and flow management across various organisational layers. At the time, they did not fully realise the profound impact Flight Levels would have on their future success.

 

Adopting a New Approach

The first step in their transformation involved a deep dive exploration into the current situation, gathering insights from individuals, teams and leaders. This initial activity, guided by Flight Levels principles, revealed a resilient company culture, with a strong anchor in the Clan and Adhocracy quadrants.

 

This indicated a good cultural foundation on which to build agile values and principles. However, the exploration also revealed significant challenges such as:

  • collaboration & transparency between teams
  • technical debt and failure load
  • too many projects and unclear priorities; and,
  • unplanned work and interruptions.

 

Visualising Change

To address these challenges, the company implemented the Flight Levels Level 2 Board, a tool to visualise workflows and identify bottlenecks. This visual management system became a central element in their strategy, serving as a clear representation of current projects and areas needing attention. The visualisation process not only diagnosed issues but also rallied the teams around a common goal, reinforcing collaborative problem-solving.

 

Focusing Efforts

With a clearer overview provided by the visual management system, the company could prioritise tasks more effectively. The leadership emphasised the importance of finishing existing tasks before embarking on new initiatives, a key principle that helped restore order and focus to the workforce.

 

 

Cultivating Collaboration

One of the most transformative aspects of adopting Flight Levels was the enhancement of team interactions. The visible, shared workflows fostered an environment where team members naturally collaborated more closely. This not only improved the flow of projects but also strengthened team cohesion, acting as the catalyst for this new, dynamic form of collaboration.

 

Measuring Success and Adjusting Course

As part of their commitment to the new approach, the company closely monitored key metrics like the balance between planned and unplanned work and the frequency of outages. This continuous measurement allowed them to not only track improvements but also to adapt their strategies in real time, ensuring sustained progress.

 

A New Era of Innovation

Several months into the transformation, the impact was undeniable. Through the constant feedback loops, the Flight Level 2 system evolved significantly, expanding to incorporate work from other parts of the organisation. The connection and flow of work between the Level 2 and Level 1 (team level) systems was smooth and effective, providing transparency and increasing collaboration. Technical outages had dramatically reduced, management of technical debt had improved, and the company had expanded its agile practices. The Flight Levels framework had become the backbone of the company’s operations, promoting a culture where transparency, collaboration, and continuous improvement were standard.

 

 

Reflecting on the Journey

The transformation journey taught the company that focusing solely on new capabilities without addressing foundational issues was short-sighted. More importantly, it highlighted that Flight Levels was not just a temporary fix but a lasting approach that could guide the organisation through future challenges and opportunities.This narrative is a testament to the power of the system, illustrating how a structured approach to agility and collaboration can revitalise a company’s operations and culture.

 


 

Frequently asked questions

Q. How did the company manage the transition for employees who were resistant to the new Flight Levels framework?

A. In managing the transition for employees resistant to the new Flight Levels framework, the we adopted several strategies to ease the process and ensure buy-in across all levels. Typically, such transitions involve comprehensive training sessions and workshops to familiarise employees with the ideas and ways of thinking. Communication is key; thus, regular updates and open forums where employees can voice their concerns and get direct responses from leadership would have been crucial. In addition, and probably the most effective approach, was to ensure the Flight Levels Systems were co-created by the people within the organisation. This provided the opportunity for mentoring and support from peers who are advocates of the new system can help in alleviating fears and encouraging acceptance among the people.

 

Q. What specific metrics were used to monitor success and adjust strategies during the transformation?

A. Regarding the specific metrics used to monitor success and adjust strategies during the transformation, these included measures of workflow efficiency, such as the rate of project completion, incident response times, and the frequency of technical outages. Additionally, employee satisfaction and the balance between planned and unplanned work likely played significant roles. These metrics would help the company gauge both the operational effectiveness of the Flight Levels system and the impact on staff morale, enabling timely adjustments to workflows, priorities, and perhaps even staffing levels to optimise both productivity and employee satisfaction.

 

Q. What long-term changes has the company planned to sustain the benefits achieved through the Flight Levels system?

A. As for sustaining the benefits achieved through the Flight Levels system, the company continued to implement continuous improvements that includes regular reviews of processes, ongoing training, and updates to the system as needed. This was coupled with a robust internal feedback mechanism that allows employees at all levels to contribute ideas on how to further refine and enhance the system. Leadership commitment to maintaining an agile, transparent, and collaborative culture is essential, as this underpins the long-term success of any such transformation. This would ensure that the agility and efficiency gains from the Flight Levels system are not just temporary boosts but integral parts of the company’s operations and culture.

 

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Full Level 2 and Level 1 system

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