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Common Misconceptions About Business Agility

Recently, I was reading the State of Business Agility survey from CA Technologies, and it struck me that according to this report, only 12% of organizations are on the path to achieving Business Agility. Only 12 percent! Hasn?t Agile been on the scene long enough to show the value it brings ? not only to software development teams but across the business?

Thinking it through, I?ve seen first-hand how challenging it can be to realize true business agility ? and, through a number of conversations with my clients, can share some of the biggest misconceptions and challenges organizations face when they think about bringing agility across their organizations.

Business Agility Is a New Evolution ? Only the Daring (or Desperate) Face it Head On

I typically receive mixed reactions when I discuss business agility with my clients. Some leaders are excited to blaze new trails, while others were leery when realizing that they?d be forging a new path forward. It seems we went back in the innovation diffusion curve!  This must be a new evolution! Early adopters ? or those who realize that without change, they?re facing imminent doom ? will embrace business agility and vie to test it, while the majority will need it proven with risks sorted out. In other words, we will need to cross the chasm with business agility. At least that is the case in traditional industries.

The Jury Is Still Out on What Business Agility Means

Business agility is new, and most don?t agree on a definition. Let us start with some myth busting on what it is not: it is not merely software delivery teams embracing agile methods and mindsets. It is more than training product ownership and management to support agile delivery teams. It is even more than engaging business people in Agile delivery.  These are all ?hows? to a bigger picture.

CA has codified business agility, based on its own transformation and operating as an agile business: removing friction between ideas and outcomes, to get to the shortest sustainable path to customer value. I see it as having your entire business, company, etc., operating as one organism with the same heartbeat; so that you can better sense and respond to change and market disruption. The ?Why? is being able to pivot on a dime when necessary. Yes, there are the components mentioned above, plus more: transforming enterprise strategy settings and linkages to execution, portfolio planning and budgeting functions, business operational agility, and executive engagement.

Business Agility Takes a Different Breed and the Right Support in Place

This is not the first time I?ve encountered, ?we once put an Agile Coach in front of the executives, and we will not do it again.? Before we discount all Agile Coaches for business agility transformation, let us first consider their background. The Agile consulting industry is still evolving, a standard does not exist for the ?Agile Coach? title, it is mostly self-proclaimed. Many coaches grew from programmers or project managers, they became coaches because of working with Agile delivery teams. That does not necessarily prepare them to handle broader business transformations nor executive conversations. That trend is starting to shift, especially as Agile has become mainstream. We now have executives entering as Agile coaches, successful Product Managers, MBAs and startup strategists, are now coaches. You need a consultant that has depth in both their Agile experience as well as the right business and leadership background. 

So, now what? Take a deep breath, recognize that you are an early adopter that can help shape this space, think big, and learn from innovative organizations as you take yours on the journey to business agility.

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DeemaDajani contributed to this article