Wednesday, May 11, 2016

"CIO Master" Book Tuning XXVIIII: The Long Jump to Achieve Digital Agility

The agile agenda should be a business value agenda, sustainable and fully empowered.

Agility is the ability to "pivot" and change direction in response to market pressure, or to create the market opportunity. Need for agility arises due to increasing speed of changes in underlying assumptions. Every business executive, especially CIO should ask her/himself: Is business and IT responsive and proactive enough to find answers and solutions in case of emerging chances? Does IT have a platform which is scalable, secure, resilient and well interconnected?  Digital transformation starts with mind shift, business value has to be driven, indicated and understood at all levels of the organization, It is a long jump to achieve agility, because it’s neither just about adopting a methodology or the best practices, but to be equipped with agile mindset, and follow a set of principles to create and adapt to changes.

The agile agenda should be a business value agenda, sustainable and fully empowered: If you have a very good idea of where you are going - what your systems will be like and how they will work, and then it is much easier to choose quickly between immediate opportunities: pick the ones that take you in the right direction. Because strategy as a vector has both direction and force, the goals should be clear and therefore the ability to follow a strategy more than possible. It's also worth pointing out that agility is closely related to simplicity. The simpler the business processes, the faster the business respond to changes. Refocus on business fundamental is crucial for improving digital agility. Ignoring business basics is a short route - sometimes longer - to "Agile failure."

Agile is about continuous improvement: Agile is about doing, we learn by doing, we change as the output of that doing. Always have the plan to be getting better either at enterprises, departments, teams, individuals, etc., level. If you don't know more and have the capability to execute better than you did six months ago, there is a good chance one or more of your competitors can. Stop overly worrying about the state of Agile and Agile maturity. It sometimes just tends to move the focus from improvement to metrics (usually false metrics). Go and chase down the profit with an infectious passion. You will find yourself pushing everyone to be agiler because it is the most efficient way to achieve those goals. The more passion you have in this pursuit the more people who will follow your lead.

The agile approach to adopt Agile is to do what's appropriate: It takes agreement upon "doing what is appropriate" and define a common goal. Then the problem becomes one of finding out what is appropriate. Do not blindly follow the best practices of "enterprise agile." Often what there is at the enterprise level  is a rigid process that maintains the status quo and gives lip service to agile concepts by adopting a few of trivial practices. This is in no magic formula of being agile. The very notion that there would be "schools" of agile is itself a misunderstanding of the underlying notions. Agile happily supports many different practices frameworks at many different scales. The point is how to figure out what’s the appropriate approach to tailoring your needs and make a smooth transformation. For example, you will want to use some engineering “practices” to improve agility and increase quality, without which you cannot be agile enough. You are not agile until your practices match your principles, as they can not be separated completely.

The ultimate goal is building up an agile enterprise which can succeed in combining two distinct but interconnected elements, strategic responsiveness, and organizational flexibility. Being agile also means to become a truly holistic organization. Organizational agility is only achieved when the organization changes, stop talking about IT and business, but running a holistic organization with one set of strategic goals and objectives, and start to think how best to achieve those goals, and recognize that there is always room for improvement. It’s the long jump to achieve digital agility. Agility within and of itself is a strategy.


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