What’s all this talk about agile in business?

What is agile, agility and business agility and why is it such a thing at the moment? Businesses of all sorts need to adapt and respond – this is agility

What’s all this talk about agile in business?
Plenty of business leaders, conference speakers and even politicians are talking about ‘agility’ or being ‘agile’ in business.

You’ll hear them say ‘we need to be more agile' or 'it’s all about agility'. Heck, even the Prime Minster, Malcolm Turnbull said: “The Australia of the future has to be a nation that is agile, that is innovative, that is creative.”

Apart from cheetahs, jaguars and other agile animals able to move quickly and easily over land hunting prey, what's agile got to do with business?

Agile means quick, easy and nimble. In business it’s a way of thinking, a way of working that is increasingly part of how many of the most successful companies work.

Born from the world of software project development, an agile team divides up work to be done so it can be completed quickly, easily and released to the market frequently. Quick, easy, nimble. 

With the rise of apps on your mobile, the power of the internet and advances in technology, many businesses leverage technology to deliver services to their customers; the sooner they can deliver that service or the better that service is, the greater the value is for customers. 

Getting great things into your customer’s hands quickly is kind of what it’s all about. 

Beyond technology, other global changes demand agility: challenges from competitors, customer demands, govenrment changes mean the most adaptive, those who can change swiftly will survive, thrive and win. 

There are casualties on the list of companies that didn’t – or aren’t - changing quickly enough: Kodak, Napster, Netscape, Blockbuster, Nokia, Yahoo… and many more sliding from Top 500 lists.

In most cases they didn’t adapt or change swiftly enough. They were slow, rigid and too stuck in their ways. 

The path to being agile isn’t travelled overnight. It takes time but it’s a must for businesses of all sizes. Rather than complaining and wishing for ‘the good old days’ to return, adopting an agile frame of mind and being willing to adapt to changing conditions is what success is made of in today’s world.  

Here are some agile thought starters:
•    In terms of mindset, how open are you to change… to really change things up? 
•    What changes are you noticing in the industry or your client’s industry?
•    What other businesses are you noticing adapt and change in their quest towards agility? 
•    What parts of your business or practice could be stuck, rigid or too slow to adapt? 

This is the first in a series of articles about agile and business agility. Next: What we can learn from techs, geeks and nerds about agile.
Lynne Cazaly is an international keynote speaker, author and facilitator.
She is the author of five books including:
•    Agile-ish: How to build a culture of agility
•    Leader as Facilitator: How to engage, inspire and get work done
•    Making Sense: A Handbook for the Future of Work 
She works with executives, senior leaders and project teams on their major change and transformation projects. Lynne is an experienced board director and chair and on the Faculty of Thought Leaders Business School. More info at www.lynnecazaly.com