Monday, September 22, 2014

Agile Maturity with Contradictory Coherence

The strategic planning and agility need to achieve contradictory coherence with such delicate balance.

At today’s digital dynamic with high-level of uncertainty and velocity, Agile as a management philosophy and methodology is expanding out and scaling up, should organizations adopt agile project methodologies also adopt agile strategic planning practices?
Applying strategic agility practice is to set priority right to execute with adaptation. The key question, whatever methodology one is applying, is whether one is devoting resources to the right projects and to the right degree and manner. Applying strategic agility practices to a great extent will help frame these questions and hence will render project agility much more effective and credible because it has a strong motivational factor to team members. Such strategic agility supplying the radar by which projects can be aligned and adjusted continuously to the fast evolving strategic reality. It is also clear that organizations into strategic agility should adopt agile project methodologies. This to ensure that their fast adapting project portfolio or strategic initiatives get executed in due time (or before the next transition loop is taking place)

The terms strategic planning and agility need to achieve such contradictory coherence. Can anything be really agile and strategic? A strategic plan implies deciding major moves the organization must make now to be ready for the challenges of the future. Agile means making adjustments right now to meet the situation of right now. Even in the fluid world of IT, if you are unable to commit to technical directions for long enough, you'll never be able to develop and maintain a capable staff to execute. In that case selecting total agility in your strategy also implies a longer-run decision of total dependence on out-sourcing of technical capabilities. It may also imply a total dependence on the environment to dictate what the company's next move is, it is somewhat the opposite of what a strategy is supposed to accomplish. 

Three levels of corporate agility: (1) Strategic agility: identify major opportunities and risks when they arise. (2) Operational agility: defined as an organization's ability to execute within a focused business model, consistently identify and seize opportunities more quickly than rivals. (3) Portfolio agility: The importance of 'portfolio definition' as a means of devoting resources to the right projects and to the right degree and manner and balance the value the projects are creating and the risk of failure because of complexity or size. Quickly and effectively shift resources out of less promising businesses and into more attractive opportunities.

Applying strategic agility practice has to be cohesive and adjustable. Therefore, a periodic assessment of overall strategic direction should not impede the use of agile in the specific projects that are launched. After all, the point of projects is to take on innovative work, and the point of agile is to decide which obstacles to bypass and which to slog through ... to maximize the progress towards the strategic objectives.


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