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Agility – aspiration and reality

Rugby agility

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

‘Agility’, is without doubt a key enabler for digital transformation.

Most organizations request their teams applying agile approaches to business . You might now that the agility idea originates from a revolution in IT software & tools development, where lean, flexible and iterative project management methods replaced the old way of doing projects with a huge gap of months if not years between specifying requirements and delivering/testing.

One key principle of agile approaches is to fail quick, learn, and improve iteratively. Repeatedly, in short cycles. Flexibly and stepwise approaching the ideal solution starting from a minimum viable product (“MVP”), instead of having a single big shot.

A few years ago, I had the exciting opportunity being part of a great cross-functional team developing an inhouse “PubMed+”. Within 6 months from mandate to launch! Following the ‘Scrum’ framework for agile development. This experience had been a true eye opener for me.

As the agile methodology has provenly revolutionized software development and successfully shown its effectiveness in IT project management, I was very happy to see that the same concepts are being more and more applied to business projects.

So far, so good.

But does the following sound familiar to you? “We want you to be more agile! Instantly and consequently! … … …  but(!) watch out sticking to the processes … and don’t bypass established decision lines … and do not forget to include Aaaaa, Bbbb, Cccc and Ddddd … and do not forget to provide me with your 3-years plan …”


Sometimes, management seems to expect their people winning the surfing world championship … but in the Sahara desert. ‘Agility’ necessarily means finding new ways of doing instead following the established. ‘Agility’ requires the readiness for taking smart risks and aiming at failure. ‘Agility’ expects iterative approaches following the paths of customer needs, and not the needs of process paths or organizational structures.

If agility as a business approach is wanted, it needs to be part of the corporate culture, consequently.

If you miss this culture, then be brave and take smart risks! Have the courage being an example that agility works and delivers.