Recently CV Magazine profiled the creative coaching team before speaking to Mia Horrigan to find out more about the company and its extensive achievements after Mia’s recently being recognised by CV Magazine’s Corproate Execllence Awards as one of the most influential women in Scrum caoching – Australia 2018.
Digital Strategies Which Redefine the Industry
Zen Ex Machina (ZXM) is a professional management consulting company, specialising in digital transformation, agile coaching and training across government and commercial entities. From the onset, ZXM look to help their clients achieve the best results possible by devising business agility strategies to implement which will be of benefit to staff to improve their delivery of programs and for external customers, create a client experience that delights.
As a sign of the organisation’s success, ZXM boasts a wealth of high profile clients, including the Australian Taxation Office, Department of Industry and Innovation, Department of Human Services, Origin Energy, Nestle, eBay and Australian Bureau of Statistics.Z XM has coached over 65 teams across 20 organisations and trained over 600 people in the last five years. The company’s agile coaches and trainers are experienced practitioners, who have worked collaboratively with government departments and agencies to help organisations, portfolios, programmes and teams to be as effective as possible. Mia discussed the team’s overall mission, as well as what steps the firm is taking in order to achieve these results.
“Here at ZXM, we help our clients improve their digital business’ products and services by using Agile, Lean and UX methods”. The digital economy has transformed the way both small and large businesses operate. Competition, government policy, industry standards and regulations all require smarter, faster, leaner ways of working. To meet the challenges that modern organisations face, ZXM consulting services focus on helping our clients solve complex business problems with solutions of elegant simplicity. Our goal is to support clients from strategy through to implementation.
“Essentially, we work with executives to define a strategy for portfolio delivery using agile frameworks including Scrum, Kanban and Lean and align initiatives to strategic themes for the organisation with a focus on delivering business value and value for end users.” Mia explains that Agile isn’t just about technology, it’s about Business Agility and these software frameworks are now being applied in non-software environments such as government policy, change management, marketing and creative services.
Continuously delivering results, these agile frameworks have proven successful for Mia and her team.
Working with new clients and on new projects can sometimes prove to be difficult, but it is a seamless transition for the staff at ZXM. Mia explains, “A key element in ZXM’s approach to supporting our clients to achieve the best outcome is focused on developing capability and knowledge and delivery of value-based products through the use of user-centred design methods, including Design Thinking, combined with Agile frameworks such as Scrum to drive improvement cadence and Lean to improve efficiency. We establish our approach to new projects and engagements based on an understanding of the problem, needs of business and end-users, the current organisational context of service and product delivery, and the gaps to establish an agile learning culture that is user-centred at its heart.”
Boasting a team full of experienced Agilists, the team’s professionalism, knowledge and ability to rejuvenate and transform various entities has been crucial to the success of the company. Additionally, ZXM has a proven track record of working alongside clients and forming long-term relationships with trusted partners, and it is this quality which helps it to differentiate itself from its clients, according to Mia.
“Here are ZXM, our first goal is to build a strong, collaborative relationship with our clients”. ZXM’s team of consultants provide pragmatic advice on best-practice agility based on practical experience across Scrum, Lean, Kanban, and scaled frameworks including Nexus and SAFe. “Agile methods are at the core of our practice. For us, agile means a disciplined use of methods like Scrum and Lean to achieve goals quickly, collaboratively, with minimal waste, and with high repeatability. As a result, we learn faster, deliver better, and continuously improve our practice. Our team are highly skilled practitioners who do not just teach you about Agile and Scrum, they provide guidance and knowledge based on years of experience in implementation of large scaled scrum initiatives across enterprises.”
However, an essential part of standing out within the industry is being able keep on top of any developments which are constantly arising across the sector, and working hard to monitor which strategies are effective. This is something that the team at ZXM is able to do with great effect, as Mia explains when providing us with a brief overview of the industry at present. “One of the leading causes of failure of agile initiatives is lack of experience in implementing the frameworks and practices. Our aim is to improve the agility of our client’s program teams by focussing on building capability and enablement through coaching support, as the team develops their capability in using agile frameworks”.“Importantly, our frameworks enable our Agile Consultants to focus on supporting the creation of enterprise agile capabilities and organisational change and support the digital transformation of products and services and that meet the DTA’s Digital Service Standard by integrating UCD methods, tools and practices into agile processes, including the ‘Definition of Done’ and how best to describe and define a Minimal Viable Product (MVP).”
Internally, the thriving working environment and team culture within ZXM has contributed significantly to the success of the company. Mia comments on the values which are embedded in the company ethos, and how they contribute to staff being able to deliver an excellent service. “We really live our values of Simplicity, Agility, Collaboration, Sustainability and Value. We value simplicity, as ZXM uses 21st century, digital, agile techniques to understand complicated business problems. Furthermore, Beginner’s Mind and minimalism is always at the forefront of our thinking and our practice.Agility is ZXM’s passion as it encourages incremental improvement through transparency, inspection and adaptation, strong leadership, and a disciplined use of frameworks such as Scrum to achieve goals faster and collaboratively with business and stakeholders”.
“In terms of collaboration, and we love working side-by-side with our clients. This helps us to build a love for our customers’ needs, create empathy, and generate insights. This also means we work in multi-disciplinary teams. Furthermore, the team focuses on Sustainability, as when a team hums along, time just passes by quickly without you realising it, you’ve got flow and a high performing team. This comes from embracing sustainability, planning work so that it flows better, and most importantly not overloading our teams”.
Providing value to clients is important to ZXM, and Mia believes they are only as good as our last engagement. “The focal point of simplicity, agility, collaboration and sustainability is nothing if we do not deliver a high-value outcome for our clients. This is what ZXM always strives to deliver.” In her concluding comments, Mia is clearly excited about what the future holds for the firm, and there are many reasons for this, including the continuous success that the company has achieved recently. Additionally, this success has resulted in the team being well placed to embrace any challenges that come their way in the future and turn them into opportunities.
“Moving forward, we have grown significantly over the past two years and now have a depth of capability to support our large enterprise clients as they continue to innovate and transform their digital services. One of our clients recently won an award and we were thrilled to be part of their team, but also seeing them be recognised for their fantastic work and achievements in digital services over the past two years.
“Ultimately, Business Agility and demand for agility in non-software environments is a growing trend in our Industry, and ZXM has been at the forefront of providing Business Agility services to large government and corporate clients over the past five years. Throughout the years, we have helped executives in creative teams, marketing, policy and program offices improve their process, as well as seeing efficiencies in delivering services to staff and clients through adoption of agile frameworks such as Scrum and Lean.”