Agile – To Be Or Not To Be

We Love Agile Because…

It’s helping to open people to the idea that the process is not more important than the outcome..

But We Are Nervous Because…

It’s in danger of becoming a process that’s more important than the outcome…


OK, So Let’s Explore That Contradiction A Bit…

There are a lot of great things being written about Agile at the moment, and personally we are great fans of it. In fact you can read the article that prompted this thought here. There is a link at the bottom of the page to a full article The Agile Business first published in the Times. There’s a lot of good additional material in this, but they want your details to download it. Please note neither I nor Custerian were involved in its creation… Just to be clear

So why would I set up a potential negative?

Well because in my view it’s what Agile is enabling that we should focus on, and not the methodology itself and that is the speed of considered decision making. Now it used to be in the good old days that we had time to expend making decisions, because things went slowly – Standard and Poor top 500 index for the US showed that in 1957 you needed to be around for 75 years to make the index. By 2003 that had dropped to 25 years, and as of 2013 it’s at 10 years – and thats on average, and we all know how misleading averages can be – but the message is clear “If you want to grow, you need to run to stand still” Lets be clear though, making decisions faster requires 2 things:

Appreciation Of Consequence

It used to be that a lot more things fell into the ‘high consequence of getting things wrong’ category, and I don’t think it is a surprise Agile has resurfaced in Technology (yes – it’s been here before originating in manufacturing in the 50’s I believe). That’s because in a technology dependant world, change has to be facilitated by IT which because of the huge cost and timescales involved, meant only the brave took a leap of faith. But we all know how that landscape has changed. Perhaps no longer does the “You won’t get sacked for choosing IBM (other large scale IT providers are available!)” apply.

Open Collaboration

By this I mean the involvement of your business and it’s customers to create a correct environment in terms of context and completeness for the decisions that are reached to be ‘considered’. Or put more simply, just because you can change things quickly because Technology (provided your not stuck with massive depreciation costs on your balance sheet for legacy systems) is now an enabler, does not mean you should simply embark on a mud at the wall approach to decisions making, and that loops us neatly back to Agile.

“As with many things in life, we should take the best bits of Agile, the parts that resonate with us most, the bits that we hear because we listen well, and strive to make ‘considered decisions’ and take them into our business’.”

In fact we have felt such an affinity for it that we have brought into our toolset of things that be used to create effective change, along with our other Customer Experience skills & techniques, as it perfectly compliments our simple model for decision making in rapidly changing environment. So why don’t more businesses adopt this ‘way of working’ when the benefits lead to: – 71% faster to changing market conditions – 55% overall improved organisation efficiency – 54% improved customer satisfaction – 44% more profitable business results Our simple model in everything we do ….. DecisionProcess Oh and just to be clear, the precursor before anyone embarks on any form of ‘rapid change program’ is a very clear business Purpose encompassing the Commercial Goals and Brand Proposition.

In Summary…

This is of course my view, but read what Mark Pearson has to say about Agile in the downloadable Agile Business Raconteur article. He talks a lot about creating a vision, being open to change, taking risks and the importance of leaders (of agile business’s) being good listeners. So my final thought is that as with many things in life, we should take the best bits of Agile, the parts that resonate with us most, the bits that we hear because we listen well, and strive to make ‘considered decisions’ and take them into our business’s. And if we do, we might just still be around when Agile re-emerges as the next new thing in 10 years time – after all even the ‘there’s nothing new’ cycle is spinning faster and faster.