Agile is typically associated with more effective management of software projects. However, the principles and mindset from the Agile manifesto makes it relevant beyond this context.

In particular in times of crisis, as we are currently experiencing, taking an Agile approach to leadership is more relevant than ever. In this article, I want to provide perspective on some of these principles and why they are essential to modern leadership.


Embrace change

“Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.”

Japanese station
Japanese station
Photo by Ivy Barn on Unsplash

At a young age, we learn that the world is made up of rules to be followed. In particular, our parents and school foster us to follow rules with the intent that we have a good foundation, and that those rules will continue to guide us, so that we make good decisions that align well with other people…before at some point, we realise it’s possible to bend or break the rules.

To what extent we choose to follow rules or not, is very much a matter of personality, but also the culture we grow up in. In Japan, perhaps more than most places in the world, rules play a very important role. Rules are essential for people to feel comfortable and ensure a certain degree of control in the world around us. Everything from how we behave on trains, how we communicate with each other, our rituals and behaviour at work, to how hospitals and public institutions function is all governed by a surprisingly detailed set of rules. …

The expression しようがない (shiyoganai) or 仕方がない (shikataganai) have fascinated me since I came to Japan. It is also expressions that have been controversially challenged by non-Japanese people, who interpret it as pessimistic or conservative, so I will try to avoid making the same mistake. Often expressions like this are rooted in culture, which is why when put in context of e.g. American, French, German or Swedish culture it takes on a different meaning. What I have been particularly fascinated with is the potential personal and financial costs, associated with overusing the term しょうがないね. Could companies suffer substantial costs due to employees being reluctant to address outdated, but difficult to challenge, company norms? …

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イノベーションの明確な原理を定義することは困難です。なぜなら、企業の環境や文化、そして直面している問題に根ざしているからです。背景として、UNDP(国連開発計画)のイノベーション原理 (p.71)、6つのベクターなどを提案するIDEOの包括的な研究を見てみることをお勧めします。













Wicked problemsを取り込もう ?





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Photo by Kiana Bosman on Unsplash

When we hear about leadership, we typically imagine the strong leaders standing up, taking a stance and showing the way. Leadership often assumes a title and authority to stand above others. This view of leadership isn’t likely to go away any time soon, as it’s deeply ingrained in history and culture. It is of course not incorrect, yet in today’s context, this view of leadership has become outdated and far too narrow. I have been curious to start an exploration on what is at the heart of leadership, and how could we look at leadership in a more multifaceted way.

What is leadership?

There are many definitions of what leadership is in multiple contexts, but there are some consistent themes(Ref). …

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Image by Ben Marsh


確かに、私たち ustwo の仕事はある程度のイノベーションに貢献しています。しかし、私たちの仕事自体を「イノベーション」とは呼んでいません。なぜなら、私たちはイノベーションそのものを作っているのではなく、クライアントのプロダクトやサービスの構築を支援しているからです。イノベーションとは、プロダクトを作るのにより適した文化が育成されることで、副次的に生まれるものです。


残念ながら、これには簡単なコツはありません。また変革的な組織にするために、決まったプロセスやツールセットもありません。このマインドセットを養うためには、絶えずポジティブな変化を起こそうとする企業文化の育成が必要であり、ustwoでも常に努力を続けています。そうでなければ、クライアントの期待通りに”walk the talk”、つまり有言実行することは不可能だからです。

After many years working with digital products, I am still astonished to see how many individuals and companies that are willing to spend a large portion of their time, energy and money to work on products that are fairly likely never to be launched or that seem doomed to fail before they are launched. Often this is the result of messy stakeholder compromises, inability to prioritise or the lack of a focused and well considered value proposition.

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Photo: Nathan Anderson

Generally, working as an “outsider” with our clients, I am somewhat aware but of course not fully immersed in the challenges of internal politics in complex organisations. Nevertheless, it would seem the business case of not building mediocre products is rather compelling. It would have a massive impact on both our market competitiveness and the hidden costs of maintaining a unsuccessful product over a long period of time. …

Typically, most people either make plans or simply prefer to improvise. I guess I have always done a bit of both, trying to find a balance in how much I plan and how much I let things naturally evolve.

Ultimately, most plans fail, because we don’t know what the future looks like and sometimes big changes make plans obsolete or even foolish.

At the same time, living a life without reflection and goals may provide us interesting experiences and open up a world we never considered. Yet, it makes it hard to consciously achieve anything of real significance. …

While I think it is essential to have clear purpose and focus in life, we still need to recognise that change happens and our reluctance to embrace change is our worst enemy.

That said, there is a difference between reacting to change, in other words going where the wind blows, and consciously responding to change.

Having a clear understanding of purpose, and identifying guiding principles help us navigate much of the change we face. However, I also find it immensely valuable to learn to tap into the plasticity of our own minds.

Over the past 10, 15 years or so, semi-consciously I have tried to embrace challenging my mind, observing the world around me, testing how I feel about venturing into new domains, new ways of thinking, looking at things from new perspectives. Although it’s not a change that happens immediately (it typically takes years to shape new patterns of thinking), I think this has been incredibly valuable to define where I am today. …


Lars Rosengren

Coaching teams and individuals on digital product leadership, user centred strategy and agility @Ustwo Tokyo, Japan.

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