What is Enterprise Agility? What are the expectations vs the reality of Enterprise Agility (EA)? This article covers the six pillars of EA that sums up the expectations or the future state along with the actual state of things.
"The rate of change is not going to slow down anytime soon. If anything, competition in most industries will probably speed up even more in the next few decades." - John P. Kotter
Enterprise Agility - Expectations
Enterprise Agility is centered on the ability of an enterprise to quickly respond to change. Agile enterprises are expected to have:
- Planning Agility
- Funding Agility
- Team Agility
- Technical Agility
- Leadership Agility
- HR Agility
The planning agility represents the flexibility of an enterprise to change its priorities considering changing market conditions or emerging technology trends. The expectation is that an enterprise is able to reprioritize and realign its business priorities quickly with changing market conditions or customers' preferences.
This is closely related to the planning agility. In order to quickly adapt to changing market conditions or emerging technologies, an enterprise must have the flexibility to move its funds or resources around, across teams, departments, and products, depending on the need.
Enterprise agility can only be achieved when all teams across an enterprise have adopted the agile mindset, values, and principles. For a team to be agile, they must adapt to change, learn to collaborate, self-organize their work, and consistently deliver high-quality work to generate business value.
Teams achieve technical agility by leveraging engineering practices to deliver high-quality products quickly. Some of these practices include continuous focus to architecture and quality design, test-driven development (TDD), behavior-driven development (BDD), continuous integration (CI), continuous deployment (CD), creating unit tests, and ensuring code quality.
This is an important competency for enterprise executives and leaders to develop. Leadership agility is the ability to make effective decisions, inspire people, and act with an understanding of what it takes to lead in a rapidly-changing world. With more agility, leaders become more collaborative and proactive in leading teams and driving organizational changes.
In an agile enterprise, it is important to integrate HR and other supporting departments such as Finance, Sales, Marketing, etc. with the product development process and introduce agility into their work.
Enterprise Agility - The Reality
But, are enterprises “truly agile”? Are you able to quickly adapt to the changing market conditions or emerging technology trends? When your corporate strategy/goals shift, how soon will the change flow from the corporate level to your own products? How soon will funds move from one product to another or from one release train to another?
Let's take a step back and think - does your roadmap even align with your corporate goals? How often do you revisit your product roadmap?
The reality is that change is slow. Larger the organization, more difficult it is to be agile. If the enterprise has adopted Scrum or Kanban, or SAFe, it doesn’t mean that they can quickly adapt to change. With SAFe, the product priorities are revisited on PI boundaries, thus it could take around 10-12 weeks to realign priorities. It may take even more time to move funds and resources between different departments. Enterprises often compromise their agility to have the desired predictability.
Post your comments on the expectations vs the reality of Enterprise Agility. Also, check out my latest book, Enterprise Agility with OKRs.
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