Software agility is not business agility (Klaus, 2018).
If that sounds true to you, then the rest of this post should be a fun read.
If it is not, this may be challenging. It could still be a fun read.
The collection of knowledge called Agile Methods, as applied to developing valuable software, is deep and broad. Much of the variance both within communities and across communities is caused by the ambiguities in their experiences and where they’re at in their personal and leadership development. There are good reasons for the distinctions among the different forms of Agile. The Universe is whatever you say it is, so just say.
Business, Busyness, Problems
Have you ever participated in a mass ideation session?
You get a whole bunch of people into a room, you distribute sticky notes, label all four walls, and execute a facilitation plan. A general rule of thumb is that each person is capable of generating 20 to 40 stickies, so a room of 40 participants can reliably produce 800 stickies with problems and solution statements on them. The more diverse the group, the less duplication you’re going to get. The safer the environment, the more diversity of ideas you’re going to get. It can be absolutely fantastic.
The problem isn’t that there is a shortage of problems. The problem isn’t that there is a shortage of solutions, either.
After all, a problem is just a solution without a solution (Cohen, March and Olsen, 1972) (Iris, Avenue5, S1).
This should ring true if you’ve ever run a business. There is no a shortage of problems looking for a solution, or a solutions looking for problems. The real work is in the matching of problems with solutions, and the resulting execution.
So just do it? What’s the issue?
Well…some problems just aren’t interesting. Some solutions may appear to be important tactics, but they just aren’t important strategically. Complicating matters, judgement, insight, predictive ability, and the capabilities of complex thinking varies wildly across individuals.
Whether you choose to orchestrate a mass ideation session or not – all those problems are still there. It’s just that if good ideas can come from anywhere, they could come from anyone.
Just like in software agility, the way you choose to lead people through this forest of possibilities has a lot to do with what you know, how you feel, and where your people are at.
Unlike software agility, business agility doesn’t just drive outcomes by shipping quality software. Business agility concerns itself with outcomes by shipping quality decisions at different mandate levels.
You can choose to apply ideas from software agility to business decision making in order to improve business agility.
It depends on where you’re at. Where you’re at with software agility. And where your business is at.
Concluding Writing Prompt
What would happen if the business shipped decisions the same way agile software teams shipped software?