Agile is not Innovation
One of the capital sins of Agile is Failure to Innovate. Assuming it will be the solution to all your problems and that Agile alone, regardless of its flavour (Kanban, Lean, Agile, Scrum) will enable innovation, growth and business agility.
“We didn’t do anything wrong”, said Stephen Elop is his last speech as NOKIA’s CEO. Nokia was the major agile adopter at the time. Proof that Agile is not sufficient to ensure the survival of your company. You need something else.
Selling agile as the solution to all our ills or as the salvation of the company is a lie. Agile, like Lean, is an operations strategy. Nowadays, it seems that everything fits under the Agile umbrella and that Agile is the solution to all the problems of the world.
Agile (and Lean) allow you to build things faster, better and more efficiently by engaging everyone in the organization. But, there are two things Agile doesn’t do, and are key to the survival and growth of businesses: innovation and product development (Lean Product Management)
You can be the fastest company in the market, but if you build products nobody wants you are doomed.
You can be the most adaptable and resilient company in the market, but if you are not diversifying your portfolio including the future growth of your company you are doomed.
Agile is not enough, in order to drive business agility you need an operations strategy (operational excellence), lean product management and innovation.
Business Agility can be defined as the ability of an organization to sense the environment and quickly adapt to it.
You can find out there many complicated and elaborated descriptions of what a company needs in order to achieve Business Agility. But, from our point of view and experience, everything is superfluous unless you have embodied the three building blocks that will enable your company to adapt and quickly react to changing market conditions.
- Operational Excellence – The ability to be fast, cost efficient with quality and customer centric. If this is not even in place, it doesn’t really matter your employee experience or your innovation efforts.
- Lean Product Management – You want to have the capability of designing and building products customers love. Here, Agile is not enough. You need to learn to talk to customers and evolve your products and business models based on market feedback
- Innovation – Innovation is the life insurance of your company. You are buying options for the future by investing in ideas that will be the future business models of your company.
Be suspicious of anyone who will sell Agile as the solution to all your problems. Agile is good for what it is, and you need to complement it to allow your business to thrive and survive.
Next up, The Evil Managers.