The Drivers

I started writing an article for the business-agility presentation posted earlier. This article is more to give a sense of the thinking behind …rather than a narrative to the presentation itself. Not surprisingly it got kinda …ummm bloated. So, I’ve broken it into smaller increments of ‘shippable thought’ which I’ll post over the coming days.

There are many factors conspiring to tip the Industrial Age organisational pyramid, and notions of leadership, on its head. We now live in a fragmented, highly adaptive, uncertain, disrupted, mobility-enabled, app driven …post-waterfall, agile world.

First, it’s worth a moment to look at the why, or perhaps the, what …the feck! For instance …give some thought to how some of this new technology has changed …forever, the way we form, understand and shape relationships.

Then we have technology that has changed the way we can work and the way we organise work, especially in areas of collaboration (give a ‘like’ if you love slack and trello), or things like co-creation and crowd-funding …giving rise to the contingent workforce, co-working spaces, open source/creative-commons, even new business models like the crisp.DNA or driving the gig economy.

…or how about other technologies like blockchain, whose potential we haven’t even come close to realising.

Then there’s the advances in testing and automation, allowing us to get feedback from customers in real-time. We can now minimise uncertainty (read risk) by making not just better decisions, but in all likelihood …the correct decision, and in real time …rather than the ‘guesses’ which are still being made by those trapped in the waterfall of the pre-planning, planning session.

On top of this we are now entering the age of big data and the world of AI, whose ability to outperform humans in analysis, predicting trends and making decisions has been easily demonstrated.

However, it’s worth remembering, it is not technology that is behind this change or disruption. It has always been the thinking and the leadership of smart people, and the ‘switched-on’ businesses they are building. Technology has merely been the outcome …as much as it can also be seen as the enabler.

These are some of the background factors I see as the primary drivers and enablers of the agility movement. In the next article I’ll explore the impact these technologies, and how agile ways of thinking are changing our understanding of leadership and the world of work.