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AVIO Insights

Agile and Organization Agility, Part 2

Survival in today’s fluid business climate requires agility. The ability to respond to change quickly and strategically is a hallmark of effective digital enterprise.

Last month we began a discussion of how the principles of Agile Software Development can be applied to organizational agility. We considered the first tenet of The Agile Manifesto, “We value individuals and interactions over processes and tools.” We also met Natty Gur, a vice president/CIO who blogs about the implementation of XOIT (ExpOnential IT), the program through which he’s applying Agile principles as an organizational philosophy for his IT department.

The Agile Manifesto’s second tenet, “We value working software over comprehensive documentation” is more development-specific. We can generalize it, however, to apply universally: output and outcomes over bureaucratic exactitude.

Constant change has turned engaging and delighting customers into a moving target. Companies with the capability to respond quickly and repeatedly are more likely to meet the market’s changing demands.

The Principles Behind The Agile Manifesto express this truth in software development terms as:

Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.

This approach is built on the understanding that specifications are likely to change and that the product of some development sprints may consequently miss the mark. Short cycle times enable developers to gracefully adjust and re-deliver.

The willingness to fail is regularly cited as one component of organizational agility. Its flipside is the ability to quickly reload and relaunch. Together, they enable the digital enterprise to meet customer expectations through iteration and adjustment.

Greater individual autonomy through what Natty calls “self-management” is one of the central features of XOIT. It’s intended to increase agility by reducing the bureaucratic friction that often hinders responsiveness in traditional organizations. He blogged recently about a particular challenge of self-management—Dealing effectively with mistakes without making his team fearful of taking initiative.

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