9 Agilities for TRUE Business Agility

We live in the “Age of Disruption”; therefore, we need to cope with rapid change everywhere! Our 100-year old management techniques (Sloan management, departments, Taylorism, managing business processes, etc.), are simply not good enough to handle this much change, and everything is pointing to more “agile management” everywhere, not just in software development:

  • company management
  • business strategy
  • change management and transformation
  • startups and new innovative business units
  • portfolio management at all levels
  • marketing and sales
  • compliance
  • Etc.

However, with so many choices, so many frameworks, and so much advice everywhere, what are even the right questions to ask as you embark in Business Agility?

Getting your company to be more Agile requires making the right choices. In my experience, very many companies fail before they even start because they don’t even ask the right questions.

Don’t let that happen to you.

Here is some guidance. However, don’t attempt to rank, or think “one aspect” is more important than the other. We are in the “Age of Agile” (Steve Denning), and we need to start thinking about “coevolving” things together, because once we focus on one aspect, we make a “functional process” out of everything.

At the very least, you need to worry about these important things in your overall “agile approach”:

  1. Cultural Agility
  2. Leadership Agility
  3. Agility of the Agile Transformation
  4. Org Design Agility
  5. Framework: Inherent Agility of the Agile framework chosen
  6. Framework: Genericity Agility of chosen framework.
  7. Framework: Scaling Agility of the Agile Framework chosen
  8. Framework: Configuration Agility of the Agile framework chosen
  9. Framework: The Agility of how an Agile Framework is published and updated

These are important things to both assess and attain. When we start our Business Agility journey, it’s a good idea to ask:

How ready are we to start Business Agility?

And the, of course:

Where do we want to be?

Before you answer any of these questions, make sure you really understand what it takes to get there.


Let’s dive deeper into each one of them.

1. Cultural Agility.

An integral part of being Agile is now each individual behaves. We call this the Agile Mindset. The Agile Mindset is based on how an individual behaves with participation, cooperation, collaboration, sharing (anything of value, knowledge, responsibility, success, etc.)

These behavior is supported by Agile Values such as focus, respect, honesty, openness, courage, and commitment.
 
And and good understanding of their purpose and what Agile is: all-at-once, iterative-incremental, customer delighting, employee pleasing, results-driven management.

When many individuals have the same Agile Mindset — we call this Agile Culture.
Self-assessment: Give a score from 1–10 on how agile you think is the culture of your team, business unit and company.

2. Leadership Agility.

For Agility to really work at any level, there needs to be supporting Agile Leadership, that is leadership that truly understand Agile, and how it could work at all levels. This is not only important to set example, understating is key to make supporting decisions. In most large companies with non-Agile leaders, very many non-Agile decisions are made every day that ruin Agility. Also, part of being an Agile leader, is to understand that a leader needs to change its management and leadership style depending on context. Enterprise Scrum includes options for leaders, while they support and grow their Agile organizations.

Self-assessment: Give a score from 1–10 on how agile you think is your leadership for your team, business unit and company.

3. Agility of the Agile Transformation.

Most frameworks don’t have an explicit way to do their Agile Transformations (change management). Most dismiss this important topic. As of this writing, Agile Transformations are typically very low in Agility for all frameworks; however, there are more Agile options like OSA and Enterprise Scrum -Agile Transformation.

Self-assessment: Give a score from 1–10 on how agile you think is your Agile Transformation.

4. Org Design Agility.

According to the Global Human Capital Trends 2016, 88% of all executives interviewed, say the Organization of the Future, is the most important future trend.

But as of today, most management consulting firms, and agile frameworks avoid giving an answer to this important question. In fact, the only framework that I know that provides any guidance in Agile organizational design is Enterprise Scrum. I am sure others will come, I mean, they have to. We are not going to “agilize departments”, or “agile business processes”. If you understand Agility, Agile Org Design is a NEW way to organize companies; it is all-at-once management at all levels of scale.

Self-assessment: Give a score from 1–10 on how agile you think is your organization design for your team, business unit and company.

5. Framework: Inherent Agility of the Agile framework chosen.

Then we get into what framework to use for Business Agility. For example, for software development the inherent Agility of the SAFe framework is very low — it only adapts every release, and high for Scrum.

However, as of this writing, I don’t know of any other framework for Business Agility other than Enterprise Scrum, and of course, since it is based on Scrum, with varying Cycle times, it’s inherent Agility is very high.

Self-assessment: Give a score from 1–10 on how agile you think is your Business Agility framework or apprach.

6. Framework: Genericity of Agility of chosen framework.

This is related as to how Agile in breath is your Business Agility framework. In other words, how many things can it Agilize. For example, SW, HW, compliance, marketing and sales, customer segments, portfolios, or the entire company.

For example: LeSS for product development, while Enterprise Scrum can agilize 50+ activities including company management, startups, portfolios, business units, customer segments, HW, SW, Agile Transformation, change management, marketing and sales, compliance, etc.

Self-assessment: Give a score from 1–10 on how agile you think is your framework in terms of genericity (application for different domains).

7. Framework: Scaling Agility of the Agile Framework chosen

This is the scaling Agility of the Business Agility framework chosen.

For example, in software developments, some have none, like Scrum — there is no prescribed way or patterns to scale. Within the software development domain, some have exactly ONE way to scale, like LeSS or SAFe. However, Enterprise Scrum provides 1024 scaling combinations, and its scaling options work outside of software development. So let’s say that you try one of these scaling options within Enterprise Scrum, and it doesn’t work well — there are still 1023 options that you reconfigure with. Instead, with other framework, you have to either stick to the ONE guidance, “cook you own” solution, or choose another framework.

Again, that I know of, there is no Business Agility framework that offers scaling at the business level, other than Enterprise Scrum.

Self-assessment: Give a score from 1–10 on how agile you think is your Business Agility framework or approach in terms of scaling.

8. Framework: Configuration Agility of chosen framework.

This is the Agility associated with the preferable explicit configuration options for implementation.

For example, within software development, Scrum is configurable, but none of the options are explicit, except choosing 1–4 week Sprints. In comparison, in Enterprise Scrum, there are explicit configurations options for customers, domains and industries, teams and roles, processes, metrics, charts, scaling, added techniques, etc. Everything is explicitly configurable.

Self-assessment: Give a score from 1–10 on how agile you think is your Business Agility framework or approach in terms of configuration.

9. Framework: The Agility of how an Agile Framework is published and updated.

Lastly, this is the Agility by which the frameworks are updated and published, which is important, specially in a time of rapid change. Well, here all of the frameworks I know, sadly, including Enterprise Scrum, are not all that Agile. We are trying to change this.

Self-assessment: Give a score from 1–10 on how agile you think is your Business Agility framework or approach in terms of its publishing and updating.


WARING: Miss any of these agilities … and you will have problems in your Business Agility transformation and on-going management. So choose carefully: your future, your existence, your success, and your survival ….may depend on these choices.


I hope you find this guidance useful, at least to the point where you are asking the “right questions”. And remember, part of being Agile is the ability to make corrections once you find more or better information. So, don’t be afraid to re-route your Agile journey, even if you had already started.

-Mike Beedle
CEO

Enterprise Scrum Inc.
http://www.enterprisescrum.com