What is Business Agility?
By Abi Walker | 2 November 2018
Being fairly new to the Agile Business Consortium, and new to the world of Business Agility, one of the questions that I asked during my interview for my current role was, “so, what exactly is agile?”.
When telling my friends or family about my job, I am often asked this same question. As I am getting better at answering it, I thought it would be useful to share what I’ve learnt for the benefit of other Business Agility newbies. So, if you’re wondering what Business Agility is and how agility affects business, please continue reading…
What makes a business agile?
If you do a quick search on the internet, you will find that the definition of Business Agility is the "ability of a business system to rapidly respond to change by adapting its initial stable configuration". This is true, and I could end this blog here, but that doesn’t really tell the full story.
How did it all start?
I’m sure you’re familiar with the term “agile”, which means having the ability to move quickly and easily – like a monkey!
But why and when did the term start being used in the workplace? Well, back in 2001, when I was starting secondary school, a small group of people, tired of the traditional approach to managing software development projects, created the agile manifesto.
The agile manifesto consists of four core values of agile software development. These are people over processes and tools; action over planning; collaboration over contract negotiation; and responding to change over following a plan. Fast forward 17 years, and agile through Business Agility is now spreading rapidly to all departments and all types of organisations as it allows teams to work more efficiently and effectively.
The Agile Business Consortium (then the DSDM Consortium) was one of the signatories of the agile manifesto, represented by Arie Van Bennekum (now also a Fellow of the Consortium), and we actually pre-date the manifesto. We’re the world’s oldest organisation for agility, originally founded in 1994.
So, let me get this clear, agile is……?
Agile is a term which is used to describe an alternative way of working. By adopting an agile process, teams can stay productive and focused on customer needs, being able to adapt to increasingly complex and uncertain environments. Agile has a specific focus on people and providing useful outputs as you go rather than waiting right until the end to deliver something of value to the client.
And how does the Consortium help?
For those of you who aren’t familiar, the Agile Business Consortium is the not-for-profit member organisation leading, promoting and enabling Business Agility worldwide. We help to spread the message of agility through events, thought leadership and educational resources, certifications and our annual Agile Business Conference.
Since I started working for the Consortium, I have found that working in an agile way has helped me become much more productive. I’m able to manage my workload much more efficiently – and one of the agile tools I use for this, is MoSCoW prioritisation. I recommend you look it up!
If you want to know more about becoming agile, I also recommend reading “5 Steps to Business Agility” which looks at what it takes to become an agile business.
So, what I would like to ask you is: what are your thoughts on Business Agility, and how do you sum up what agile means when asked? As a newcomer to agile, I would love to hear your comments below, on Twitter, on LinkedIn, or on Facebook. I look after our social media accounts, so I’ll be sure to spot any messages you send.
About Abi Walker:
Abi Walker is the Head of Content for the Consortium. She is based at our HQ in Ashford, Kent. In her spare time, she enjoys walking her English Springer Spaniel, visiting tea shops and hanging upside down at pole fitness.
You can find Abi on Linkedin.
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