What are we talking about when we talk about an agile enterprise? Some elements of definition are needed to better understand the state of mind and the different solutions brought by Agility.
What’s the definition of an agile enterprise? Before answering this question, it’s important to share a common vision of the word “Agile.”
The Agile State of Mind
One could summarize the agile mindset with the words “trust” and “permanent questioning“. Trust is the prerequisite for full collaboration, which is itself required to deal with complexity. Same thing for the permanent questioning that is essential to face a constantly changing world. After all, it’s better to regularly make small, painless changes that improve things significantly than big changes that are rare and risky.
The Agile Enterprise: a Paradigm Shift
Now, back to the question, “What is an agile enterprise?” Large consulting firms have looked into the matter, and here is Deloitte’s proposed definition: “The agile enterprise is a company that brings concrete and personalized solutions to its customers, which cooperates to improve its competitiveness, which organizes to master change and uncertainty, and finally feeds on the wealth of its employees and its informational assets.”
To accept this way of working and to choose an agile mode is to change the way one thinks, it is a real intellectual upheaval, a paradigm shift. That implies leaving aside benchmarks, sometimes anchored for years or even decades. So in the end, it’s a question of letting go; and then appropriating new references. Becoming agile is a real adventure, an adventure that can be facilitated by the support of people who have already made the trip.
The Agile Enterprise: a Human Adventure
Embracing these changes is not something that can be forced, because people are at the core. And even with the best plan in the world, if the organization’s culture is not ready, it will fail. Moreover, we cannot change people directly; we can only play on the environment. In the end, we face a huge challenge: to change the culture and the way of thinking.
Another way of formulating it is to say that if we just adopt methods, practices and agile tools, we will probably change the way we work, that’s for sure. But to make a transformation is to change our way of being in order to think differently.