To get the real benefits of Agile, you also need to be agile.

Having worked in IT for over 30 years I was excited at the rise of Agile, this was an approach that I took to, like a duck to water, with many of its practices already being second nature to me.

Yet here we are 20 years later and whilst many companies have implemented Agile, so few are actually agile.

I did hope that as we moved forward with this approach that it would spread into other areas of work and help companies develop agile cultures.

Here I am not just talking about the methodology but about the adjective agile, whose definition is “to be able to move quickly and easily“.

Yet so many companies who claim to leverage Agile are in fact still rigid and inflexible. Yes they can develop applications quickly, but what about the rest of the business processes and ways of doing business.

At one company, where they claimed Agile was in their DNA, you still needed to follow formal processes to get quotes for simple solutions, fill in masses of paperwork and go through multiple approval processes.

In today’s hyper-competitive world businesses have to be move quickly and easily, you have to be able to respond to change, to be flexible to requirements, and to be able to give your customers what they need when they need it.

If you can your competitors will and you will love business.

Too many processes are so rigid they have the turning circle of a supertanker, there is no nimbleness, not option to short cut to the solution, even though it’s clear and obvious.

No this process has 7 hoops and you need to jump through all of them.

So what is the point of implementing Agile, if the rest of your business doesn’t have an agile mindset?

The benefits of one, will be lost because of the absence of the other.

Companies need to develop the nimbleness to respond, whilst still retaining some degree of organization, just descending to anarchy is not a solution either.

You need to develop that balance of just enough, which is one of the key tenets of Agile.

Here are the key principles of agile

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation.
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
  • Responding to change over following a plan.

and if you change working software to working solution you could apply these ideas to each and every part of your business.

If you can do that, then you’re business will be agile, and you will be able to reap the benefits, in these difficult times.

Hover, if you cannot disrupt yourselves, and need to stick with the rigid, slow-moving processes which you believe add value and rigor, your competitors will eat your lunch.

One of the arguments I heard recently against this was that they would rather take the time and get things right than rush and get them wrong.

Now that is something I can understand and agree with, however in their case this was something that they took their own sweet time with and still got it wrong.

There are so many things that are ripe for disruption if people are prepared to challenge preconceived wisdom. Now that doesn’t mean that we should through everything out, but it does mean we should challenge everything and ask is there a quicker and easier way of doing it.

When you can develop that kind of agile mindset you will start to see opportunities everywhere and be able to reap the benefits.