Who is talking about Business Agility?

You can tell that an idea is starting to catch on when different people or groups start trying to advance it independent of each other.

The advantage of that is people who hang out in different circles find out about the idea. The downside is that they run a chance of finding out wildly different views about that idea to the point when people from those different circles start talking to each other, they can’t tell whether they are even talking about the same thing.

Business Agility is in that territory right now.

I defined business agility for Agile Alliance’s Agile Glossary as:

Business agility is the ability of an organization to sense changes internally or externally and respond accordingly in order to deliver value to its customers.

Business agility is not a specific methodology or even a general framework. It’s a description of how an organization operates through embodying a specific type of growth mindset that is very similar to the agile mindset often described by members of the agile software development community.

There are at least three different views of Business Agility of which I’m aware. I suspect there are others. They have some common themes, primarily the ability of organizations to respond to change and a focus on their customers. They also have some differences.

Agile Alliance

Agile Alliance has an initiative, facilitated by a group of current and former business leaders focused on identifying and sharing methods to explore the adoption of the Agile mindset and methods in the enterprise.

The initiative includes a monthly webinar that connects business leaders to the Agile community to share perspectives and insight of how Agile works within a business and an ongoing worldwide narrative-based retrospective of Agile and business. The goal of the program is to identify both positive and negative stories from the agile community and to work to amplify what makes Agile work well for business.

ICAgile And the Business Agility Conference

The International Consortium for Agile (ICAgile) has added a Business Agility Track to their Learning Roadmap that will provide a path toward a business agility certification.

ICAgile presented the Business Agility Conference in 2017 The conference was 2½ days of authentic short stories and facilitated deep dives on business agility; focusing on organizational design, market disruption and product innovation, agile outside IT and next generation leadership. You can get the videos from the 2017 conference from InfoQ.

Evan Leybourn the conference chair of Business Agility Conference 2017 described business agility in the article Domains of Business Agility. In that article, you can find the following comment:

“If, and until such time as, there is a Business Agility manifesto, the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto apply across all areas of the organisation with one minor modification.”

He posted that article in May, 2017. By September, a Business Agility Manifesto showed up.

A Business Agility Manifesto

In September 2017, Roger Burlton, Ron Ross and John Zachman published the a Business Agility Manifesto with plans to “officially” announce the manifesto at the 2017 Building Business Capability Conference (BBC). The manifesto includes a few supplements, including the SideBar for IT Project Professionals which appears to try and address several agile adoption anti patterns.

Making Sense of these Perspectives

If your organization is trying to implement business agility, you’ll find some practical experiences and stories from the Agile Alliance efforts and the Business Agility Conference content. I haven’t seen much practical information from the Business Agility Manifesto, but then again manifestos are primarily intended to communicate principles and intent.

Did I miss any discussions about business agility? Let me know in the comments.

Photo by Climate KIC on Unsplash

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