Strategic Planning

5 reasons why agile is the new lean — Why you should cultivate a business agility strategy

Your future pivots upon agility more than you realize. Become students of business agility. Why? Because agile is the new lean and will soon be be as ubiquitous as lean. Here are 5 reasons why:

  1. Change has changed

The nature of change itself has changed. We live in an increasingly VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous). The speed of business and the pace of change are accelerating all the time, laced with the turbulence of increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. The result is an increasingly time-compressed VUCA world.

  1. Lean is no longer enough

In an increasingly VUCA world, lean is no longer enough. Whether you do formal lean or semi-formal lean, we all do informal lean; it’s called continuous-improvement, waste reduction, efficiency/effectiveness, streamlining etc. But there is a problem with lean. You can buck this trend if you really know what you are doing but, if you aren’t careful, lean is continuous-improvement on steroids, which would be rather like rearranging the deck-chairs on the Titanic! We have continuously improved the heck out of the deck-chairs. They are now nearly perfect. But nobody is recognizing that somewhere in the fog of VUCA coming at us there is an iceberg looming, which will very soon cause a hole below the water line, very soon after which we will need a new ship!  Preparing a new ship is discontinuous-improvement. Are you prepared?

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Agile is inclusive of both continuous-improvement/sustaining-innovation and discontinuous-improvement/disruptive-innovation. Even General Electric has recognized the need to pivot from lean to agile, and nobody invested more heavily in lean than GE. In an increasingly VUCA world, we will all be disrupted, probably bigger, faster and sooner than you think, with few second chances. It’s not a case of “if” you will be disrupted; that is the wrong question. It’s a case of if you will be the disruptee or the disruptor?

  1. The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed

Agile is already here and is already huge in the field of Agile Software Development, which has taken over the whole world of software development. It’s already ubiquitous. Agile Software Development has already been up-framed into Agile Project Management. This extends to of any kind of project — not just software projects.  AGILE Planes, Trains & Automobiles (and so much more)The future of agile is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed. But it will be soon, and coming to a business near you!  Your enterprise-agility in an increasingly VUCA world depends upon it.

  1. All of the seeds of agile exist within lean

Agile is a much more fast-cycle, iterative/experimental, learn-by-doing/self-organizing approach, acutely oriented to customer value. All these seeds of agile exist within lean. In many ways, we are reaching inside of lean, turning the body of wisdom inside out and looking at it through an agile lens.

  1. The agile model

The agile model provides that agile lens.  In an increasingly VUCA world we must anticipate change (by sensing, monitoring and envisioning the icebergs inside the fog of VUCA), generate Confidence in the face of that VUCA (by connecting the dots, engaging our team and aligning our organization), Initiate Action (to be learning by doing, experimentally, embracing a willingness to fail early/often/small to emerge into success), Liberate Thinking (to find fresh innovative solutions) and Evaluate Results (with fact-based, real-time feedback, from real people experiencing real products in real circumstances) as a closed loop which is never ending.  In an increasingly VUCA world, we must strengthening, shrinking and speeding up our loop to be increasingly fast-cycle, to keep up and stay ahead.

Participate in The VUCA Report and you will also begin assessing the 15 driving capabilities of The AGILE Model.

Agile is the new lean. Your future pivots upon agility more than you realize. Become students of agility!


Category: Strategic Planning

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Vistage Staff About the Author: Vistage Staff

Vistage facilitates confidential peer advisory groups for CEOs and other senior leaders, focusing on solving challenges, accelerating growth and improving business performance. Vistage member companies grow 2.2x fa…

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